After enjoying a speaking ministry for years, I was speechless.
While fighting a cold, I spoke in a medium-sized venue without a microphone. The following morning my voice was raspy and cracking. The next day I was inaudible. I went to a drugstore clinic and received a decongestant. While the medicine dehydrated my sinuses, it parched my larynx, worsening my condition.
I cleared my schedule and didn’t answer the phone. Being somewhat of a hypochondriac, I spent hours researching laryngitis on the internet, finding recommendations from inhaling hot steam to cold steam, from drinking juices to avoiding juices, even rubbing hemorrhoid cream on my neck!
Research said a doctor should be consulted after fourteen days. I had to speak 300 miles away in less than two weeks; I couldn’t wait. I read that it takes hydration, time, and rest for the voice box to recover. I remained silent, drank gallons of water and hot marshmallow tea, and sprayed homeopathic spray into my throat, although it didn’t reach my voice box.
I couldn’t talk to my husband Jerry, my pets or sing around the house. What started as cute became frustrating and lonely. Unable to share the daily happenings, I became a very good listener.
Jerry had flashbacks of early in our marriage when I gave him the silent treatment for days at a time. He continually reminded himself that I wasn’t angry; I was just resting my larynx.
Five days passed and still no voice. I went to a nurse practitioner. Although there was no infection, she gave me antibiotics “just in case,” and a steroid shot in the gluteus maximus—the largest muscle in the body. Childhood memories of screaming and running to avoid a “shot in the butt” flooded my mind. I took it like an adult and within ten minutes, my voice was back!
As I limped into the supermarket, painfully aware of my cramping derriere, I called my sister to share the good news. She said to stay quiet until Jerry got home from work. I agreed because, after all, I had so much to tell him.
By the time he got home my voice was gone again; my heart broke. I returned to the internet for answers. My investigation brought me to the hypochondriac conclusion that I had a tumor and was surely dying.
At dinner that night, Jerry told me about his day. He asked if I’d Skyped with our daughter and granddaughter. They lived in Hungary and it was our only communication; I cherished our daily chats. Little Fiona had been so cute that morning, dancing, singing, and showing her nearly-two precociousness. I had much to share! Writing my thoughts wasn’t enough. I dropped my head and cried. Jerry hugged me, assuring me that my voice would return. I wrote that I wasn’t sure. What if God didn’t want me to talk again? What if my speaking ministry was over? “He didn’t bring you this far to drop you now,” my sweet, lonely husband reassured me.
I thought about the trillions of wasted words I’d uttered over the past year; stupid words of no worth – “godless chatter” as spoken of in 2 Timothy. Each morning I had 30 minutes of whisper in me. Should I tell Jerry how much I love him? Should I share the cute things Fiona did? Choosing my words was never a concern before; now I couldn’t waste even one.
With all prayers only in my thoughts now, I was comforted that God could “hear” me. He was the only One with whom I could readily communicate. I’m learning, Lord, I thought, drawing closer to Him.
I looked at the possibility of God being “through with me” as a speaker. This isn’t the “Kelly Show” and it isn’t about my happiness, I reminded myself. Whatever God allows will be for His glory and the ultimate purpose of my presence on earth—to bring others to Him. However, I thought that’s what I was doing when I spoke for Him.
God knows all things and He loves me became my mental mantra. Still, I felt sorry for Jerry who craved two-way communication with his wife.
On the seventh morning of silence, I broke. Your perfect will be done, God, I prayed. Although I don’t always understand You, I trust You. If You want to take away my ability to speak, it’s all right with me. It really is because I honestly trust You.
I felt as if a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was truly ok with it. I was almost excited as I wondered how God would work in my voiceless future. That night, I slept peacefully, putting myself in His care.
The next morning speaking didn’t occur to me. I padded into the bathroom where the cat meowed loudly. “Demanding,” I said perfunctorily. I heard my voice! “Are you hungry, little kitty?” There it was again!
Jerry poked his smiling face into the room. “Honey! You’re talking!” I was cautious, fearing my voice would disappear again. It was different this morning, though. It wasn’t a whisper, but a crackly solid sound. I smiled and nodded. “I knew the Lord would give your voice back!” As we hugged, I rejoiced at the ability to say, “I love you,” into my patient husband’s ear.
Was it the natural progression of laryngitis; the antibiotic; the steroid shot; all the water and silence bringing healing? Or was it the breaking of my will and the readiness to wholly put myself into the Lord’s mighty hands, trusting Him to work all things together for good because I love Him and am called according to His purpose? (Romans 8:28)
The next week when I addressed the women’s group, my voice was weak, but audible. As I held the microphone against my chin, I tried not to think of all the germs on it that would bring new and strange illnesses to me and, as I’m sure the internet could verify, would probably kill me. But that’s research for another day!
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About Kelly Stigliano
Kelly J. Stigliano has been writing and speaking for over 3 decades. She and Jerry have celebrated more than 30 wedding anniversaries together—all proof of God’s redemptive power! Kelly made bad choices for years and shares the lessons she’s learned along the way, hoping to keep others from making the same mistakes. Because no one benefits when we wear masks, she tries to stay transparent. “Everyone has skeletons in their closets, but my closets don’t have doors on them!”
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