Edelyne Lau's hearing loss continues to deteriorate. But she says: "I may not hear very well physically but, spiritually, I can hear God." All photos courtesy of Edelyne Lau.

“It wasn’t my fault that you fell. It’s your balance that was no good.” 

These were the words that 12-year-old Edelyne Lau, wearing her brand new hearing aid, heard her father say to her.

She had only recently been diagnosed with moderate hearing loss caused by nerve damage. It was irreparable and her hearing would regress with age.

Answers and questions

For the quiet prepubescent, the diagnosis was the answer to some questions she had never thought to ask.

The cost of a medical check-up did not seem like a necessary expense, her father told her.

Why was it so hard to understand what people around her were saying?

Why did her teacher sound so far away even though she was so near?

Why were there weird looks on her classmates’ faces whenever she spoke?

After an audiologist narrowed the cause of the damage as a form of brain trauma, her father revealed something Edelyne had never known: When Edelyne was three, she had hit her head after falling down a flight of stairs and later developed a high fever.

But her father didn’t take her to the doctor and instead, merely waited for her fever to subside over the next few days.

The cost of a medical check-up did not seem like a necessary expense, he told her. 

Kindergarten class photo. Edelyne (standing) second from right with her classmates.

Young Edelyne did not know how to react and suddenly felt embarrassed and ashamed.

She resented her parents; they had not even realised she had a hearing impediment until a school nurse raised concerns with them.

Already ridiculed because of the way she spoke, Edelyne clammed up after receiving her diagnosis, refusing to speak to anyone for the entire PSLE year. In class, she wrote notes to communicate with her teachers and peers. It did not help her social life. 

“I think that was where my inferiority complex developed,” Edelyne told Salt&Light.

An unhappy start

To begin with, Edelyne did not have a happy childhood.

Her father did not like children and had anger management issues. Triggered by even the slightest annoyances, he would hit Edelyne and her younger brother.

Edelyne (centre) with her younger brother (right) and cousin with whom they played often in their grandmother’s house.

Sometimes they were punished with canes, other times with whatever object was lying around. Edelyne remembers the frightening episode when a chopper was brandished.

“I was insecure, easily offended, yet I sought love and acceptance.”

Her mother, on the other hand, was trapped in her own battle with depression. She once told a primary-level Edelyne: “If you don’t see me in the house, that means I’m at the void deck.” 

Even as a child, Edelyne understood the suicidal intent behind those words.

The questions took a dark turn as she entered her teenage years and issues of identity and self-worth surfaced: Why was she like this? Why did her life seem so full of suffering? What did she do to deserve a father who didn’t love her? 

“I hated my life,” Edelyne, now 48, said in hindsight. “I was an emotional wreck – insecure, easily offended, unable to express myself. Yet I wanted to prove myself to others and I sought their love and acceptance.”

Working to put herself through school, Edelyne lived for the weekend when she would party and drink her sorrows away.

Edelyne put herself through polytechnic and graduated with a diploma in graphic design. She lived for the weekend when she would party and drink heavily.

Material goods offered a temporary solace.

“I tried to camouflage my insecurity through my appearance and drew satisfaction from the interest I got from guys,” she admitted.

What love is this?

It was in polytechnic that a classmate reached out to Edelyne and told her: “God loves you.”

“I heard God tell me clearly: I love you.

Edelyne was not ready to hear those words and rejected her friend’s repeated attempts to invite her to church.

The words made no sense to her: She hated her hearing disability and the rejection that came with it. She hated her parents and their lack of love for her. She even hated life and the notion of a God who allowed the suffering that came with it.

Still, her friend persisted.

Edelyne was annoyed and decided to put an end to the matter. I shall go with you and I’ll challenge your God, she thought.

“But God did something supernatural that day,” Edelyne said. As she approached the premises of Faith Community Baptist Church in Marine Parade, Edelyne heard strains of a worship song being played before the service.

“I had so much hate for him, and it suddenly disappeared.”

“I love You, I love You, I love You,” came the tender chorus of the song “Dwelling Place” by Hillsong Worship. The lyrics rang loud and clear above the distant echoey buzz caused by her hearing impairment.

“I heard God tell me clearly: I love you,” Edelyne said quietly. Standing at the entrance outside the hall, she broke down and wept.

After the service that evening, Edelyne went forward and prayed to receive Christ.

She was referred to a pastor for counselling and went through a year of deliverance ministry where she found the ability to forgive her father. She decided she would strive to “serve my dad with love and honour him” even though he had not changed.

“That was supernatural,” she said. “I had so much hate for him, and it suddenly disappeared.”

“I think your God is real”

As a young Christian, Edelyne spent hours reading the Bible, devouring the message of God’s love for her. It filled a lack that she had always known.

But there was still the reality of her hearing loss which had continued to deteriorate over the years. If God could heal, then why hadn’t He?

“I think your God is real,” he said unexpectedly. “My daughter is very different now; she has changed.”

“You said You healed me, but what about my hearing?” she challenged God yet again.

Conflicted and unsure of how to reconcile God’s silence in that area of her life, Edelyne continued to seek solace in the clubbing and drinking lifestyle as a form of escapism.

“I still faced a lot of rejection and struggled to accept myself and the way I speak,” she confessed.

But as she grew in the faith, Edelyne also realised that it was her perspective that needed a re-orientation.

“I had to tell myself to renew my mind and learn how to keep going back to the Bible and feed on the Word of God. Because God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

“That was when my life started to change,” she recalled. “Then I, almost literally, lived on God’s love.”

At her grandfather’s funeral several years after becoming a Christian, Edelyne’s father approached her cell group leader.

“I think your God is real,” he said unexpectedly. “My daughter is very different now; she has changed.”

Edelyne (front row, second from right) with her cell group from FCBC.

Her father, though still an unbeliever, soon softened towards Edelyne and her brother. He did not explode in rages and was somehow more in control of his emotions.

Home became peaceful and harmonious.

God healed the wounds of the soul

Today, Edelyne’s hearing continues to deteriorate, the loss increasing with age.

“I may not hear very well physically but, spiritually, I can hear God. And perhaps that serves God’s higher purpose for me.”

She says she will eventually lose her hearing entirely, possibly even before she turns 60. But there is no trace of bitterness in her demeanour. In fact, Edelyne serves actively in cell group and in the intercessory prayer team in church.

She readily shares her testimony of how God healed her “wounds of the soul”.

“Those who know me can see how God has changed my life,” she said.

“God has not shortchanged me,” Edelyne said. “I may not hear very well physically but, spiritually, I can hear God.

“And perhaps that serves God’s higher purpose for me.”


“Stop your mourning, stand up and fight!” God told couple who were struck with cancer one after another

When a young widow found grace in grief

Two weeks on, the world’s eyes are still on Ukraine. Are ours?


About the author

Tan Huey Ying

Huey Ying is now an Assignments Editor at Salt&Light, having worked in finance, events management and aquatics industries. She usually has more questions than answers but is always happiest in the water, where she's learning what it means to "be still".