If I don’t write it down, you can bet I’ll forget it. Too many times to count, I’ve been on my way to the store and my dear husband will say, “Hey! Why don’t you pick up some extra _________!” I’ll agree. I’ll even be excited about whatever Mike has thought of. It could be cheese or cookies or chips. But more than likely, within 20 minutes I’ve forgotten the item, and it doesn’t even cross my mind until I get home with no extra whatever. Again.
For years I just assumed there is something wrong with my brain. Who can’t remember something from just 20 minutes before? It’s annoying. But science tells me I’m not so much weird as I am decisively NOT an Auditory Learner. Words go in my ears, but have a hard time sticking to anything. Untethered words last about 10 seconds in my brain before evaporating. So I have to tie them down with cues, because I’m a Visual Learner. That means I remember what I write down, I have a hard time processing audio-only messages (hence my fear and loathing of voicemail), and I learn best alone.
The trouble is so much of the world is auditory. When information is spoken at me, I can’t seem to process it well, and that leaves me feeling out of the loop. It’s like I have cotton in my ears or like I’m always under water—everything is muffled and confusing. I need some sort of special earphones to help me process sounds like a normal person.
Just as we’ve looked at the way physical eyesight related to spiritual sight, I think there’s a lot to consider in comparing physical hearing with spiritual. The Bible is full of references to God speaking, including this one from Isaiah (19–21):
[God] will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
It’s rare that I hear God telling me—in actual, audible words—the way to walk (aside from a few times, which are precious to me). And when I’m in a season of zombie-like faith? It seems even harder for me to hear God. His voice is muffled, if not silent. Without God’s instruction, I stagger about like someone half-dead or half-drunk as I try to lean into hear which way to turn.
After thinking a bit more about my learning style, I’m guessing God wired my brain this way on purpose, or at the very least, He knows how it has adjusted itself over the years. And if He is gracious to me, as He has said, then maybe He knows spoken words don’t have much chance of sticking. Maybe that’s why I tend to relate to God better through other senses? What if God is pairing up His spoken instruction with words and pictures so that I’ll have a better chance of grasping His presence?
That would be just like Him, doing whatever is needed to help me know Him better.