I can’t find any evidence that The Whisper Test is an actual published book, but this purported story from it (which I received in an e-mail) is an outstanding reminder of the power that a few kind words can have on a child.
The author, Mary Ann Bird, was born with multiple birth defects: deaf in one ear, a cleft palate, a disfigured face, a crooked nose and lopsided feet. As a child, she dreaded other children staring at her and asking the embarrassing question: “What happened to your lip?” “I cut it on a piece of glass,” she would lie.
Each year the children had their hearing tested at school. The classroom teacher would call each child to the front desk and have the child cover first one ear, and then the other. The teacher would then whisper some simple phrase to the child, such as, “The sky is blue” or “You have new shoes.” This was the whisper test. If the child could repeat the phrase, then their hearing was apparently fine and they passed the test. To avoid humiliation, Mary Ann always cheated on the test, casually cupping her hand over her one good ear so that she could hear what the teacher said.
One year, Mary Ann’s classroom teacher was Miss Leonard, one of the most loved and popular teachers in the school. She exuded gentleness and loved the children deeply. When the time came for Mary Ann’s hearing test, Mary Ann cupped her hand over her good ear as she had done so many times before and strained to hear what Miss Leonard would whisper. “I waited for those words,” Mary Ann wrote, “that God must have put into her mouth; those seven words that changed my life.” Miss Leonard did not say, “The sky is blue” or “You have new shoes.” She whispered, “I wish you were my little girl.” And those seven positive, powerful words became a watershed moment in Mary Ann Bird’s life.
Nothing really changed for Mary Ann Bird. She remained disfigured and deaf in one ear and the object of her classmates’ painful ridicule. But everything changed for Mary Ann Bird. She began to see that her classmates’ judgments were neither the only words about her nor the final words. She started to understand herself as loved and lovable and dared to envision a future not constrained by her circumstances but a future that could transcend them. Indeed, following in the footsteps of the teacher who set her free, Mary Ann Bird herself became an acclaimed teacher known for her compassion and kindness.
Click here to view all my posts on the transcendent power of kindness.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
Who will benefit from reading Through God’s Eyes?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one.
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to.
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SEE EVERY MOMENT AS A GIFT
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• an overview of the book
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THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
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Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents.
Order it at GodIsLogical.com.
In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
• What is the secret to liberating yourself from other people’s judgments and expectations?
• How do you reconcile the “free will vs. Divine Will” conundrum?
• Why is there an exception to “Everything happens for a reason”?
Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.
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