Last Sunday at church the children sang and did sign language to the song. As usual, the sign language made me cry.
Sign language has always evoked emotion from me, and I even felt strongly that I should learn it. I remember about 18 years ago telling a coworker, "I feel like God wants me to learn sign language." I even added, "I feel like if I don't learn it, I'll have a deaf child." She said, "Well you better learn it!" And I think I said something like, "I know!" Yet I dismissed it.
I was not at a place in my faith to know what to do what such a feeling, with an impression on my heart from God. And so I ignored it. I got married, and had child #1, and then child #2, "Cici." When Cici was 12 months old she wasn't talking yet. The average 12 month old should have 3 words, with one of them being "mama." She had none.
At 16 months, the peditrician suggested intervention. We had a hearing test. As I sat there in the chair, I worried. Would she be deaf? I remembered that "feeling." Thanksfully, she was not but still no words by 18 months, and so she entered the early intervention system. To help with the frustration level of not being able to communication, we began...sign language.
By the time Cici was talking, she knew 80 signs. We communicated smoothly and effectively with sign language. And when she was tested at 3 years old, while she still scored low in the expressive speech (the ability to talk) she scored very high in receptive speech (the ability to understand). They credited her off the charts receptive speech to the signing.
As the years have gone by, we don't sign anymore. There is no need. But every time I see sign language, it makes my cry. Because it reminds me of the grace and mercy of a loving God who forgave me, when I ignored the feeling to learn sign language. And while he still made me learn it through a speech delayed child, his forgiveness, his love is what overwhelms my heart.
And every day when Cici leaves for school, there is one sign we still do. It's the sign for "I love you."