While there are some treatments that have helped make tinnitus more bearable, there is no known cure. The most common words of advice from even the very best ear, nose, and throat doctors: Learn to live with it.
For me, most days the ringing is tolerable. Other days, for reasons I still haven't been able to figure out, it is quite pronounced. Today is one of those days.
I tend to like to be in control (those who have ever worked with me are saying, "Yeah, tell us something we don't know). But wanting to take charge of the situation has only proven to make it worse. The more I dwell on it, the more I try to fix it. The more I try to fix it, the more helpless I feel. The more helpless I feel, the more frustrated I get. The more frustrated I get, the more stress I experience. And stress is a known trigger for tinnitus sufferers.
I am learning (I'm not there yet--but I'm learning) to embrace my tinnitus as a means to experience at a deeper level God's wonderful gift of grace.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul acknowledged that there was a difficulty in his life which he referred to as a "thorn in the flesh." Biblical scholars have come up with a number of possibilities as to what Paul's thorn actually was. Some believe it was a physical disability, perhaps malaria, epilepsy, migraines, or an eye problem. Some are of the opinion that Paul's thorn was a temptation he was experiencing. Others contend it was a person who had gotten under Paul's skin.
No matter what it was specifically, there was something in Paul's life that clearly bothered him. And on multiple occasions he asked God to take it away. God's answer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
What God said to Paul and what He is saying to all of us who struggle with adversity in our lives is this: Don't dwell on your problems. Dwell in my presence. My grace is all you need.
Every one of us has problems. Legitimate, difficult, sometimes painful problems. But while we can't choose which problems we'll have to deal with in our lives we do have a choice as to what we do with them.
Many of us, in the theater of our minds, choose to give our problems center stage. We choose to make them our primary focus. We choose to place our full attention on them. We choose to worry about them, we wonder about how to fix them, we ask why they are happening to us.
And left in the wake of our worry, wonder, and whys is any possibility of happiness, joy, and contentment.
If we have determined before we even get out of bed in the morning that it's going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, we may as well stay in bed. We'd actually be doing the rest of the world a favor.
But, the truth is, we have a choice in the matter. Every day, at any given moment, we can choose to be happy simply by choosing what we want to think about.
Groucho Marx once said, "Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be."
So how might our lives be different if, rather than settling into our ringside seats every day to watch how our problems are going to play out, we chose to place God center stage? What if we chose to make make Him our primary focus? What if we chose to place our full attention on Him? What if we chose every day to watch God's love, mercy, and grace show?
I am in no way saying that we must simply think happy thoughts and ignore our problems. But there is a big difference between dealing with our problems and dwelling on our problems.
A person who chooses to dwell on their problems cannot be happy. But a person who chooses to dwell in God's presence cannot be unhappy.