Volume and Tuning

Quieting life noise comes down to hearing aids.

When they were missing out on too many conversations and the television on highest volume was still too quiet, several people I know got hearing aids. All of them have said how much easier it is to hear with them, and they are grateful. But all of them admitted that enhanced hearing came at a cost: loss of a muffled world, and a sound reality that made background noise as loud as conversation – sharp audio edges and the loss of distinction between the sound they wanted hear and the noise they didn’t. A loss of sound depth and discernment, the trivial and the important weighted equally by the hearing aids. The switch from missing out on the world of sound to no foreground/background audio distinction was the benefit and the cost. What ears do – give weight to some sounds over others – hearing aids cannot.

If we don’t live a life deaf to the world around us, when we choose to hear the reality we live in, it can be deafening in a whole new way. There are so many things making noise, asking for our attention. Some of it is wonderful, some sad, some necessary, some a waste of time and energy. But how do we listen to what’s vital, turn off what’s destructive, and ignore what’s distracting? In more Biblical terms, how do we have ears to hear (eyes to see are for another day)?

Paul’s words on love are volume controls, helping us focus on what’s life-giving and holy. Ears that hear focus on what isn’t rude, what admits to being partial, what speaks of patience and kindness. Attend to these things, listen to the voice of love in all its many forms. If we can’t turn off the rest, we can at least let it fade into the background. We’ll be amazed at how quiet life becomes.

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