Justin and Kristi Osmond: The Gift of Being Deaf and the Gift of Hearing

Wed Sep 14 11:20:50 EDT 2022
Episode 193

For the first two years of his life, Justin Osmond was totally unable to hear the music that made his dad and uncles famous. Born with 90 percent hearing loss, the son of Merrill Osmond initially resented his inability to hear but it has become something he has embraced and something his wife, Kristi, loves because it has made him who he is. After 12 years of intense speech and listening therapy, Justin is able to give voice to a community rarely heard from on a podcast. On this week’s episode, we talk with Justin and Kristi about how it’s by leaning into our challenges that we become who we were meant to be.

My lack of physical hearing has helped me to rely more on my spiritual ears so that I can hear Him more.
Justin Osmond
We have way more rainbows than we have rain.
Kristi Osmond

Episode References:
Justin's Book

Singing For Hearing Aids

The Story Behind Justin's MBA

Justin and Kristi's Adoption Story

Justin's TedTalk

Show Notes:
1:31- Not Being Able To Hear the Music
4:10- Hearing Impairment in the Osmond Family Story
9:18- Speech and Listening Therapy
11:22- Meeting Kristi
20:17- The Olive Osmond Hearing Fund
25:47- Embracing Something While Acknowledging Challenges
32:08- Until You’ve Experienced It
37:19- “And Some Have Compassion Making a Difference”
41:22- Refined > Defined
44:13- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00

Justin Osmond was born the son of Merrill Osmond, lead singer of the Osmond brothers, but for the first couple years of his life, no one knew he couldn't hear the music. At age two, he was diagnosed with 90% hearing loss. After years of speech and listening therapy, Justin now plays multiple musical instruments has written a book and shares the source of his hope with all who can hear him while also seeking to give hope to others. Justin and his wife, Kristi, work together to run the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, an organization Justin founded to raise money for hearing aids. Justin and Kristi are the parents of two daughters. This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson, and I am honored to have Justin and Kristi Osmond on the line with me today, Justin and Kristi, welcome.

Justin Osmond 1:01

Thank you, Morgan. It's an honor to be with you.

Morgan Jones Pearson 1:04

Well, this is such a treat for me, I was telling Justin and Kristi before we started recording that I have followed Justin on LinkedIn for years, and have just been so consistently impressed by the messages that he shares there and the light that he shares and your positivity and optimism, Justin, are so inspiring. And so I'm thrilled to have the chance to talk with you two. I wondered if maybe we could, we could start back a little ways. You are part of the legendary famous Osmond family, which plays a big part in your story. And Merrill Osmond is your dad, and you were born and could not hear the music that they were singing. Tell me a little bit about what that was like.

Justin Osmond 1:53

Thank you, Morgan. You know, being born and raised in the Osmond family had been an absolute blessing on so many levels. And I've had some incredible, very few people will ever be able to experience. But it also came with many challenges, like you said, Imagine being born into a world renowned musical family where your dad is the lead singer and not you're not able to really connect, hear and understand. I remember going to the concerts and I could feel the vibration that the bass, guitar and the drum. But I could not fully understand the words of the lead singer, my own dad. And as a result, I would go into depression, isolation, despair, confusion, low self esteem and even low self confidence, feeling inadequate, and frustrated and the list goes on and on. I feeling disconnected from my family, even also feeling hopeless, at times. But my amazing parents taught me at a very early age, that we don't overcome hopelessness by removing that broken obstacle in our lives. In my case, my ears are broken. But rather we conquer adversity by not letting it have us, control us or even define us. They even took it one step further and said, Don't let your challenges define you. But rather, let it refine you, let it purge you and mold you and build you into the man that Heavenly Father intended for you to become. This led me to my personal motto, which was also inspired by my uncle Alan who had MS. I may have a hearing loss but my hearing loss did not have me. So this mentality and this attitude that I have, this outlook in life, has taught me perspective, that we can control the quality of our lives just by how we think and act toward those challenges.

Morgan Jones Pearson 3:42

I love that. I think that's so awesome. It's so awesome to hear the way that you took that challenge. And I love and people will get a sense for this as we go through this interview today. I love the way that you have kind of just taken this head on and embraced it rather than let it be something that feels like a hinderance or a burden, but something that instead allows you to contribute even more to the world. I think it's fascinating that hearing impairment has been a part of the Osmond family story for a very long time. Your uncle's Tom and Virl were both born with hearing impairment. And your grandparents, I learned this as I was preparing, your grandparents were encouraged not only to not have any more children, which would mean that none of the rest of the Osmonds were born, but to institutionalize those two sons. What do you know about why your grandparents didn't follow that counsel?

Justin Osmond 4:44

You're absolutely right Morgan, and just to make it very clear. My grandparents and my uncles, Virl and Tom, they're not just my heroes, they're my hear-o's. And you're right that is one of the untold story of our family. After my amazing grandparents, George and Olive, the matriarch and the patriarch of our family, they had their two older sons, Virl and Tom. And you're right, they were told not to have any more children, since their deafness was hereditary, and it could be passed on to the other children. But just imagine the weight on our shoulder at that time, when there were very limited resources back then to make the right decision. But like all of us, we're all put in situations where we need to pray and seek guidance and direction from the source of all truth and knowledge. My grandmother, Olive, she was a spiritual giant. And if she'd taken the counsel of her doctor, and her medical professionals, she also listened and followed the guidance and the direction of the Holy Ghost. And that has made all the difference. So instead of institutionalizing her two deaf sons, she put them through homeschool, and they both received a wonderful education. Then she and my grandpa also followed that spiritual promti to have more children. So they went on and had seven more children, nine children total. And the Osmond family was born just by following that prompting, which imagine, had she listened to the doctorss, I wouldn't be here today, the musical family wouldn't be here today. It'd be a whole different world right now for our family.

Well, and a different world, I think for a lot of other people who your family touched or changed their lives in some way.

Kristi Osmond 6:31

We were talking the other day, and talking about how faith building that must have been for his grandparents, that each time that they had a kid, it would require new faith all over again because that third child to be born, you know, as a parent wow we see that a little bit differently. But I've never really thought about it from her perspective in that sense that every time it would have been, Oh, do we have a hearing loss again? Or do we not? And it ended up that only the oldest two had the hearing loss. But the other seven to come would have been a little bit stressful and at the same time giving you a little bit of glimpse into the faith and trust in Heavenly Father with that.

Morgan Jones Pearson 7:10

Absolutel. And I think that that's something that's relatable for a lot of people, you know, no matter what the situation is, there can be a lot of things surrounding having children that can be that. One thing that I also learned is that the Osmond Brothers singing group kind of began as a result of trying to earn money, or raise money to buy hearing aids for your uncles, is that true, Justin?

Justin Osmond 7:37

That's so true. Morgan, again, another one of those untold stories about our family, for those who have children know how expensive it is to raise your family. But imagine raising nine children with a very limited budget and a small income and living on a tight budget, they had no additional money to provide hearing aids for their two deaf brothers. And if you know hearing aids are not cheap. So my grandpa, he had to get creative. And with so many talented boys in the mix, now they have seven more boys, nine boys total, he decided to form a barbershop quartet, which was Alan, Wayne, Merrill, my dad and my uncle Jay. My grandpa George, he was also a soldier in the Army so he taught his boys at a very early age, the value of hard work. Then they started performing and entertaining and around Ogden, Utah, which is where they were born and raised up in northern Utah, and then went out there to try to raise money so that they could afford hearing aids for their two deaf brothers. And that right there. That's how and why the Osmonds got started in show business. So the love that they had for each other was unconditional. And they always had each other back. Because all of us have limitation, you know, just happened that two older brothers, they had challenges that they had to deal with, but they had each other's back. And so, you know, a lot of times we live in a world of excuses. But my grandpa he would never come up with an excuse, he would find a way, he would find a remedy or find a solution to provide a way so that their two oldest boys could receive the gift of hearing.

Morgan Jones Pearson 9:17

It's remarkable. I also found it interesting to learn that despite this history of hearing impairment in your family, you were not diagnosed until you were two and then you underwent 12 years of intense speech and and listening therapy. What do you remember about that experience of having to work so hard to develop the the both hearing and speaking and listening skills that we're witnessing in this interview, which I think is awesome?

Justin Osmond 9:52

Thank you, Morgan. You know, try to imagine your life without sound without music, without hearing, without the company and voices of your family and your friends, imagine how much different your life would be without sound. For you and for all those who are listening, it might take some imagination. But for me, I've lived it. I was born, as you said, I was born with a severe to profound hearing loss. And for the first two years of my life, I lived in a world of complete silence. And then finally, I was diagnosed around the age of 2, they didn't have the newborn screening hearing screening like they have today. But that's why it wasn't detected until much later. And so after two years of complete silence, they immediately put on a hardware devices into my ears. And for the first time in my life, I heard my mom's voice, I heard my dad's music, I heard my dog bark, and my all time favorite, I got to hear the toilet flush. I mean, all these little things I think we all take for granted. And, you know, literally my world changed. And it was like I entered this whole new world, but I quickly learned that in this new world, it came with lots of new challenges along the way, and because I was two years behind my peers and like you said that my parents put me in this intense speech and language lesson therapy for about 12 or 13 years. So for those who are listening to the podcast, you can probably now understand why I talk with a little, different accent. But that's okay. A lot of times when people hear my accent they think I'm from Canada or from England or from Australia. I take it as a compliment because I love the accent. I think it's a great accent. But you know, I do remember growing up so I socially awkward and even embarrassed because of my accent. I wanted so badly to sound like my dad, the lead singer of the Osmonds, I wanted to sound like my uncles, they all have an amazing voice. But then it dawned on me one day. Why do I want to sound like someone that I'm not? I want to sound like me, Justin Osmond, with my unique voice and my deaf accent. That's who I am. That's my brand. That's my logo. That's my signature. Why should it matter what the world and everyone that everyone else thinks about me? All that really, truly matters is what Heavenly Father, and my Savior Jesus Christ thinks of me. I'm a Son of God, with a divine nature and eternal destiny. And as soon as I realized my unlimited potential, and my eternal value, and I accepted myself for who I was, and not what I was, I was so much happier. So here's what I found: the more we can understand God's purpose, and plan for our lives, the more we can tackle and overcome life's challenges.

Morgan Jones Pearson 11:22

So well said. Thank you so much. I am curious. So I know the two of you you met when you were a little bit older. Is that right?

Kristi Osmond 13:08


Justin Osmond 13:09


Morgan Jones Pearson 13:09

So tell me tell me a little bit about how the two of you met. And Kristi, we haven't we haven't heard a ton from you thus far, because all my questions have been centered on Justin. So I apologize for that. But I am curious about what initially drew you to Justin.

Kristi Osmond 13:26

First of all, no apologies necessary. I'd rather him do all the talking and just listen to him. So we met, ironically, I had gotten sick. And you know, like right before an event that he was doing in Arizona. So he has a charity. And that charity was doing a 5k event. And I had talked some friends into doing it with me. And then I got so sick that night before I wasn't going to do it. And one of my friends who had never done a 5k said, You can't not be there. This is the first time that I've ever done a 5k. What are you doing? And I'm like, Okay, fine, I will be there, but I'm not gonna run it. And then you know, it is when you're sick, you get up and then you're like, oh, maybe I'm okay. So I ran it. And so we actually met at that event. And right off the bat, the thing that impressed me the most about Justin is that just actually perfect timing on the question before but I could tell that he had a deaf accent and I knew that he had to have had a hearing loss because of that. I have two sisters, an older and a younger sister that both have hearing loss in one ear each. I had actually taken sign language classes, wanted to be an interpreter at one time. So that was the reason I attended the event is because I knew that it was a good cause wanted to help the cause. And so what impressed me was seeing Justin up there and having him be able to MC and see his confidence. And you could tell his humility and competence at the same time, which is kind of a rare combination, I think. And so that was the first thing that drew me to him is I just thought that seems like a really genuine down to earth guy. And then I found out he was from Utah and so I kind of dismissed it and said uh I don't know, I kind of had a thing against Utah guys and thought that they take the church for granted. So I didn't really necessarily want to go there initially, but we had a mutual friend. So we started talking through Facebook actually and connected that way, and then had our first date in St. George, we met partway I was in Arizona, he was in Utah. So we met in St. George, and had our first date on Thanksgiving night. And I told my parents, you guys can grill him for an hour. And then after that the the date is mine. So they didn't grill him. He was too nice. They were like, how do you grill again, like that? He's so nice. We really like him. I'm like you guys had your chance.

Morgan Jones Pearson 15:40

You missed it. You throw away your shot. Justin, what was your first impression of Christie?

Justin Osmond 15:50

Well whenever I do events like this to benefit a good cause like my charity, I'm always impressed by those who do come. Because those who come and support a good cause like that, it shows that their heart is in the right place. And so I always love making...I don't know of anybody that's a stranger, but as a friend I've yet to meet. And so I'm making all the friends there in Arizona, and all of a sudden a drop dead gorgeous blonde shows up. And I'm like, wow, she's cute. I didn't know if she was single and whatnot. But I did know that we are a mutual friend. And so I had to do a background check. And, I found out she was single. And then I found out he also had a couple of Deaf sisters, which means she would understand and have an awareness or understanding of what the Deaf culture is like and that she would accept me for who I was and not what I want, and she would accept all my flaws and weaknesses and what comes with having a hearing loss. And I was so nervous. I was so scared that I didn't even get her phone number or contact information or anything I couldn't have been brave enough to ask. But I asked my own mutual friend. And that's what got us together. And I am so glad I did and my best friend right here. I love her.

Morgan Jones Pearson 17:10

Well, and I think people will resonate with one question that I have for Kristi because they're listening to you, Justin, and you're just like a rock star and you have such a great attitude and outlook and perspective. And Kristi, you said you wondered if he was all talk?

Kristi Osmond 17:29

I did, because I feel like sometimes in the singles world you have people who say yes, the gospel is important to me. And yes, my relationship with Heavenly Father is first but do they actually do that is a whole nother story. And I had been through a whole heck of a lot of trials and things myself. And I had been away from the Church for a time and kind of I would call myself an ala carte member, where it was like, when it's convenient, then I'll do it. And so I had gone through the refiners fire and had discovered how important the gospel is to me and looked at it from a different perspective, which is that the gospel is a resource and a tool to help us draw closer to our Savior. And so I was not about to get into a relationship with somebody who's like, I'm kind of casual about it, like I wanted somebody who was all in. And so the thing that immediately impressed me about Justin was first of all, just by definition, like the things that you were already were talking to him about, is that he already had to work much harder than everybody else with the speech therapy. And with all of that he had a sense of work ethic. And he also had a sense of confidence, which I knew came from Heavenly Father. And so it really impressed me to know that he was not just all talk, however, the more I got to know him through dating, I feel like you don't really know somebody until you know how they handle trials. And so I watched him go through a couple of trials while we were dating. And I watched him turn to his faith into his Heavenly Father to help him get through those. And so to me, that was, we talked about this a lot, that the thing that drew us to each other was that we both had Heavenly Father be our biggest confidant—that's who we would go to, to try to get inspiration and to try to know to go forward. I knew before he knew that he was the one for me, and it kind of freaked me out. But I also knew that Heavenly Father knew that I needed to know. And I also knew that Justin would not know yet and that it would take him longer and that I needed to be patient and

Justin Osmond 19:25

I had to get my act together.

Kristi Osmond 19:28

Not even close. And so it was cool to see how he responded to that, that each time I would drop a bombshell on my past it was like, it gave me the confidence because I knew that Heavenly Father was my partner and it gave him the confidence to say okay, normally that might be a deal breaker but I'm gonna ask Heavenly Father You know, even though family or friends might be saying like, hey, red flag, red flag, he knew that that was our plan together. And so I think just seeing that and experiencing that and his family is the same way I've been through a lot of trials and seeing how his family handled trials, I knew that he handled trials similarly, because of those exposures that he had on how his family dealt with it. So it helped to give me confidence along the way to know that he was all in and wasn't just talking about being all in

Morgan Jones Pearson 20:17

For sure. And Kristi, you mentioned that the event that you went to the 5k was for this organization that Justin founded. And I think it's so cool, you mentioned that your sisters have hearing loss. And so you have your sisters, you have Justin's experience and together, the two of you you've been able to join on. And so I want to talk a little bit about this, the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund. So maybe we start with why did you name it after your grandma?

Justin Osmond 20:50

First of all, I've got to make make it loud and clear, I am her favorite grandchild. And we have a big family. When I was born into this family, I was the only one in the whole second generation that was born with a severe profound hearing loss. So because of that, I had this immediate connection with my grandmother. And we've already talked about her, she already had compassion and love for the Deaf and the hard of hearing community. Especially her two older sons, Virl and Tom. And a lot of people don't know this, but she also started a charity called The Osmond Foundation. And that was primarily set up to help her two deaf sons. There weren't a lot of resources back then to help the deaf community. But she wanted to do all she could do to help provide resources and help and education and awareness for the deaf community. And so when she passed away, of course tht was a sad day for a whole family, I wanted to carry her legacy, I wanted to carry her vision, and her dream. And so I started in her honor the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund. And this is a nonprofit organization that provides educational resources, q&a devices and medical scholarships for the Deaf, the holy parent community, on our over the world. And so to date, I am so humbled and grateful that with the support of so many wonderful sponsors and volunteers, we've helped now over 3000 individuals with the gift of hearing, and it's just so fun to see them light up like a Christmas tree when they hear their mom's voice for the very first time. Kristi and I have had an opportunity to travel all over and to help many of these children. And it's life changing. You know, someone gave me a chance to be able to hear with conviction, to be able to speak with passion. And so this is just my way of paying it forward, and try to try to make a difference one ear at a time.

Morgan Jones Pearson 22:47

I love that so much. And I found it interesting. I didn't realize this that most insurances don't cover hearing aids. And I said that to my mom this morning, because she my grandma is struggling with hearing loss. And my mom was like, I can confirm that the insurance did not cover it. And so I think that that's a huge thing. And being able to facilitate that for people is incredible. I think it's cool that Kristi, like I said can contribute with the passion that she has. How would you say Christie that you feel particularly passionate about this? How does your background allow you to contribute? And just how has that been rewarding for you?

Kristi Osmond 23:31

Yeah, I didn't really have any intention of being involved with the charity side as much it was Justin's baby that he had started before we even got together and, you know, through a series of events, it just kind of evolved into me having more of a picture and being able to help with that, I think being able to go on some of these hearing missions and see, you know, it's, I mean, there's nothing like seeing a kid who, you know, they might be six or seven, and their parents are there. And it's really interesting to think that they don't even know what sound sounds like. So we take that for granted. But they literally don't understand it. And so they'll hear something and they're like looking around as they have these hearing aids in their ears and going what is that. They don't even recognize what it is. And so something you take for granted is that their their parent will say, "Hi Jonah," or something and they don't even know that that's what their name sounds like. So they can look and read lips and try to put it together and then they can make that connection. But it's really really cool to see the communication gap get filled with the hearing aids. And so by being able to see and communicate, you don't realize how important that is until you don't have the ability to do it. And I think all of us got a little bit of sense of that with COVID because with the masks, it was always harder to understand. That's what it's like probably to be hard of hearing, but to actually be deaf. You know, they rely even more on body language and and lip reading. And so you see the connection that people are missing out on. And it's really hard not to want to help people to be able to connect more with their families and with their friends and in situations, social settings, you know, I watch Justin struggle, even still, with social situations. If you've got one on one that's different. But if you've got a large group, and there's background noise that's competing with it, it's even harder to understand. And so it's been cool to see what we can do. And all of the people that we have involved with the charity work that we've done or events, it's cool to bring awareness and to have other people see what they can do to try to make things better for those who have a hearing loss.

Morgan Jones Pearson 25:43

Absolutely, I bet that's so awesome to be there and see that. I wonder, Justin, you have said that you actually love being deaf, and that it's made you who you are. But that that doesn't mean that it's not hard? How would you explain that balance between embracing something that makes you who you are, but also acknowledging that it is a challenge? Absolutely.

Justin Osmond 26:07

And I have to say I do I love being deaf. It gives me the opportunity to be more patient, more kind, understanding and compassionate of others. And when I say give me an example of why I love being able to turn my hearing aid off and go into my own quiet world. That cute little six year old when they're running around the house, and they're screaming and yelling, I turn my hearing aid off and it's nice and quiet. It's also nice when my dogs are barking or when my wife yelling at me. Oh no, don't ever turn your hearing aids off on that. But there are so many more blessings and benefits and tender mercy to having a hearing loss, that the balance, you asked me what's the balance in making it all come full circle. I love a formula that our Savior had given to us in the scriptures. And the New Testament, when the Savior gives his answer to a disciple, when they asked him a question and said, Master, who did sin this man or his parents that he was born blind. And the Savior answered him, neither had this man sinned nor his parents. But that the works of God shall be made manifest in him. See in my life, and all those who have challenges, I truly feel that my hearing loss is a manifestation and a blessing of God's hand in action. I feel that with my lack of physical hearing, it has allowed me to be more reliant on my spiritual provider right there, that's a blessing in itself. So just like my hearing aid devices are there to help me hear with my physical ears. There are many devices and tools and resources out there that Heavenly Father has provided that can help us here with our spiritual ears or in other words, how to hear Him. The hashtag "#HearHim" is very big right now. But we all have to learn how we can learn to hear Him. But this challenge that I'm going through, my lack of physical hearing has helped me to rely more on my spiritual ears so that I can hear Him more

Morgan Jones Pearson 28:19

Amazing. I have never I never thought of it that way and so thank you so much for sharing that. Kristi, how would you say that Justin's being deaf has made him who he is.

Kristi Osmond 28:31

You know, I think all of us go through our hard things. losing one of your senses or not having been born without one of your senses is what happened with him. And, and I think that he's had to work harder. And you know, it's interesting. He mentioned being a good listener. I remember my parents and I talking about that after the first night that we had our first date at my parents house and saying, he is a really good listener. And the irony of that is that he is a good listener because he's had to practice at it. And I think that everything that he does, he does all in. And you know, he came to me once and said that he wanted to do this big, huge, massive run. And he wanted to help deaf kids who couldn't afford hearing aids. So he wanted to raise awareness. So he ran 250 miles from Ephraim to St. George, which is where we were living at the time in Ephraim, we're now living in St. George, ironically. But he told me that and I just thought you are kind of crazy—not kind of crazy. I actually cried, I cried and said no, you can't. You can't do that. I was early on pregnant at the time, I ended up miscarrying, and so all of the emotions and hormones were going on and I just thought, No, I can't do that right now. I can't do that right now. Which was really selfish of me. And I've realized that Justin is very dedicated to helping people and whether it's church callings, whether It's charity work, whether it's speaking engagements, his light comes on when he's able to share the lessons that he's learned and be able to share that with other people and to help lighten their burdens and give them hope. And I think that that is who he is. And it's because of the hard trial that he not only went through, but continues to go through, you know, it's still a struggle. When we get together with family and friends, it's still a struggle, and, you know, we go boating or something, and he's got to take his hearing aids out. And so he's got to rely on lip reading, and there's some nervousness there. And I think that people are drawn to him and to his light and to his spirit because of the unselfish nature that he has. And I think that he is that way because of the trials that he's been through, to know that he's had to rely on Heavenly Father. And because of his closeness with Him, it makes others want to draw closer to him, including me.

Justin Osmond 30:56

Even though you know, there may be a disconnect, because I can't hear, we both know sign language. And so we have some secret combination going on.

Morgan Jones Pearson 31:09

That's amazing. Well, Kristi, when you were talking, I started getting a little bit emotional. My husband was born with cancer in both of his eyes. And so his left eye is actually a prosthetic glass eye. And last night, he said something about like, my dumb eye in a picture. And I said, I love your eye. And he was like you don't. And I was like, actually, I really do. Because I feel like having a challenge like that does refine somebody in a way that nothing else can. And I love all the things about him that are the result of having dealt with that challenge. And so I do love it. And so I understand a little bit more what you two are saying having had the chance to be married to him. I wondered for you, Justin, just to give us kind of a perspective of what it is like to be deaf or to have hearing loss. There are some things that I think we don't probably appreciate that are challenges that come along with something like this. What are some of the challenges of being deaf or Kristi, in your case, being married to someone who is deaf that people might not even think about?

Justin Osmond 32:24

You know, that's a great question Morgan. One thing I think I've reflected on in my life, growing up and going to school, from kindergarten all the way to high school, I have had so many trials and challenges, if you will. It's difficult for me to remember, but back then 45 years ago, everything was still analog in technology. So hearing aids were just a linear aid, it wasn't digital like it is today. The cosmetic side, were very bulky, I had wires coming out of my both my ear, and they attached to a big old box on my belt, I definitely stood out. And many of my classmates, they didn't know how to react around me, as I stood out with all these hardware devices on me. It's not as bad today as it was back then. But unfortunately, back then I was bullied, I was made fun of, I was picked on. And I was even beat up. And if anything, this paradigm has taught me to be more compassionate and understanding towards other people, especially those who may be the target of aggression. As I look over my life, I reflected a lot about our Savior, and how He would react to how He was bullied and made fun of. You know, He was the master teacher, and an example on how to react, how to respond to cruelty, and then misbehavior of others. And He loved everyone unconditionally, and He forgave those who deliberately mistreated Him. And in my opinion, that's how we should conduct our life and walk in the footsteps of our Savior, despite the challenges that we go through, we all have them, and we can just learn to be more compassionate towards everyone, and even become more vulnerable. I think it gives other people permission to feel the same way. We can all be vulnerable at some point in our lives.

Kristi Osmond 34:14

So I think that, you know, it does have its set of challenges, but I feel like I have ADD, and he has to deal with my challenges with that. So I am consistently late, I'm very consistent about being late, very consistent. So he has to deal with that, my desk is always messy, like I have my challenges and so he has to put up with that and deal with that. It has its own set of rewards that go along with that and benefits but then there's also the challenges and I feel like it's no different with hearing loss. There are some situations that I think definitely make it harder, you know, at night when we're going to sleep. He will take his hearing aids out and so if all of a sudden I forgot to ask him something then I gotta like, tap him. I turn on my light, turn on my phone flashlight, and put it right on my face and either sign it or have him be able to lip read it, you know. So there's definitely some challenges that way that are also really funny and comical to where I'm like, no, that's not what I said, you know? And like, Okay, now you got to put your hearing aids in because sorry, but I gotta say this. If you don't, you're not gonna get it. Or if I need toilet paper, and I'm yelling, I'm like, oh, shoot, he just got out of the shower. He is never hearing me. Or another time where I went running, and I came back and he didn't know I'd gone running and just saw that the door was unlocked. So he locked me out. Literally banging on the door for like, 30 minutes, and, you know, he had taken a shower and has his hearing aids out. So there's definitely some funny things. The girls were playing in our pool the other day, and he's playing with them. And one is like saying, "No no!" And he doesn't hear you know? So there's definitely some funny things that happen and some challenges that come up. But at the same time, it's also really cool with our girls to be able to sit down and be able to remind them, I think it teaches them patience. I'll say, Emma, Evie, Daddy can't hear you because he doesn't have his hearing aids in and I'll say you need to face him, you need to look right at him so he can read your lips, you need to tap him, you need to get his attention, and so I think it's helped him to be able to like, okay, they don't get frustrated by that. They're just like okay, that's what I need to do. And I think, you know, that's no different than anybody with their challenges, you kind of have to know, what are some of those limitations...or like he said, he took a nap yesterday, while the girls were screaming and playing, and I took no nap. So there are some advantages that go along with that, too. But it's also just really cool to see other people, some people are so sweet and kind with how they react to Justin. And they'll ask me, you know, we have friends that will say, so what's best, you know, to be facing him directly? And I'm like, yep, he relies a lot on lip reading. And so, you know, it's really cool to me to see the people who are compassionate, and then try their best. And maybe they'll just ask him, what they can do? And so it's really cool to see the compassion and understanding from other people on how they handle it too.

Morgan Jones Pearson 37:18

For sure, and that actually leads into a question I wanted to ask you, I wondered for our church in general, what are some suggestions that you might have as far as how our church can be more inclusive of the deaf community within our church community?

Justin Osmond 37:41

Be more considerate, more mindful, more aware, compassionate, and understanding of all those who struggle with a hearing loss. Anybody, everybody has an inner battle that they're fighting with. But in this case, we're talking about a hearing loss. And and I'm not talking about those who are born with a hearing loss like myself, even though that have lost their hearing as they've aged over time. I'll give you an example, a great example of someone who is very mindful, I received a new calling in the church. And it was during COVID. Of course, like my wife said, everyone wearing a mask. And because I rely on lip reading, it became a constant struggle, and I was scared to death. You know that to be able to understand each other by communicating. And that's how we connect, and I was, so disconnected. And so my church leader, he was prompted and inspired. And before my very first meeting, he had ordered the masks that were see-through, transparent, clear masks for everyone in our meeting. And so I got there, he had everyone wear these masks and I could see them through the mask. And that touched me so much. I got so emotional, I even shed a tear or two. I was just so touched by his understanding and compassion. And so that's what I mean, by when we have a word council or whatever we're having, when we're talking about someone that has a particular trial, struggle, or challenge, whatever that may be. But I believe we all had them whether physically, mentally, spiritually, intellectually, we all have something in our lives that is broken. And so we need to be mindful of that, be considerate and when we do something like that...it changes things, and we're more unified. We're all in one in Christ. We're so grateful for His compassion and His love, and just being mindful of those that need help.

It's such a sweet story. What a good guy. Kristi, Is there anything you want to add about that point?

Kristi Osmond 39:55

Because you can see that I'm crying. You know, I do. I just think It's so sweet when people in general when they see someone struggle, and then they do something proactively to do something about it. And it really did it touched me, I think, you know, in that particular calling, it was one that Justin was stressed and very overwhelmed about. And so before he had even accepted the calling this this, this brother had already ordered the masks. And I just think about that, and the timing of that, that it was so cool, that he didn't really even know Justin. And he knew that he was going to accept the calling, knew that the masks needed to be ordered. And he didn't wait to even ask Justin, he just followed the spirit and order them. And Justin was so nervous about that first meeting on that first Sunday. And I just remember, like just being teary eyed with it and thinking I do sustain my leaders, like the fact that you would even know to do that is unique, but also just shows that you are close to Heavenly Father to be able to be led and guided by Him. Because Justin isn't one to make an issue out of it or to say that he needs that. He would never have said I need that. And yet this leader probably knew that or Heavenly Father knew that and had this leader just order it. And I just think it's really cool to know how mindful Heavenly Father is of us on those things that seemed little to somebody else that are big things to us.

Morgan Jones Pearson 41:22

It's beautiful, such such a great example. And it makes me think of how important it is for us to be proactive, rather than waiting for somebody to ask. Justin, you have said that you learned to allow your challengers to empower you rather than to hold you back. And I love this quote that you said, "Doing things we don't want to do but do anyway is what defines us." How would you say that we allow our disadvantages to empower us rather than hold us back? And why do those things we don't want to do define us?

Justin Osmond 41:58

That's a great question. But I have to be honest, and make it very clear the quote, doing things that we don't want to do, but doing them anyway, I learned that from my sweetheart. She's the one that taught me that. And so I have to be very clear on that. But thank you, Morgan. Going back to what I said earlier, we all have challenges. But the key is to not let those challenges own us or control us and instead of let them define you, let them refine you. And how do we let it we find it by embracing who we are, our limitations, our obstacles and our challenges and then allowing our challenging to empower and to propel us forward instead of holding us back. Now I know many of us, especially those listening to the podcast, right now, I'm sure many of you have been told that you couldn't do a certain thing in your life because something in your life was broken. In my case, my ears are broken. But we need to throw out the misconceptions or the misunderstanding that because something in our life is broken, that we're impaired or disabled. No, because it's an advantage. It's not a curse but a blessing. It's not a penalty, but an opportunity. That type of attitude and mentality has helped me to defy the odds of doing things I was told I could never do. I was told I could never play an instrument, even though I came from a musical family. But today, I play the violin, viola, the piano and the drum, despite my ears being broken. I wrote a book, I went on and got my Master's degree. That's another story in and of itself. I started my charity work we already talked about, I love being able to conquer my fears, and be able to give back as a motivational speaker, even with a deaf accent. And so this eternal perspective can help each and every one of us, all of us, to empower and to propel us forward despite the limitations and despite the challenges that we all have, and that will propel it forward to becoming more like our Savior Jesus Christ.

Morgan Jones Pearson 44:13

So inspiring. I feel like I gotta get off this interview. And when I'm done be a better person. So thank you so much, Justin. And Kristi, thank you. I appreciate both of your time so so much. My last question for you is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Justin Osmond 44:34

We have a motto in our family. We're going to keep doing it until we get it right. We'll keep trying, no matter how many times we fail, or no matter how many times we make a mistake, we'll get bounced off the saddle. We're gonna keep getting back on because my dad always said the show goes on. The show always goes on. And despite all the mistakes and flaws and mishaps that we will make and continue to make, we need to keep doing it until we get it right. And who knows how many times that will happen. Now, that's why some of my members of my family are still performing. They're going to keep doing it until they get it right. But in our personal life, you know, no matter how many times we're never gonna give up, and we're certainly never gonna give up on hope, especially hope in our Savior Jesus Christ, and with Christ on our side, there's no reason why we shouldn't be all in. Because if our Savior is on our side, and He's for us? Who can be against us? . So to me, that's a wonderful, comforting feeling, knowing that hey, all hands on deck, all feet on deck, because if he's for for us, our Savior who knows everything and we believe, with all the challenges that we've been through that faith isn't knowing what the future holds but knowing who holds the future. And that is our Savior Jesus Christ and that's why we're all in. And we know He's coming soon and that's exciting. And we know that if we do everything that the prophet has asked us to do, we're going to be okay, we have no need to fear because we're all in. And if we do that, we're going to be great so I'm so thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ and for the comfort and joy and all the wonderful lessons He continues to teach us every day, so that we can become more like Him.

Morgan Jones Pearson 46:31

Thank you, Justin. Kristi?

Kristi Osmond 46:34

I love your podcast. And I always love hearing this question. And I like different people's responses on this. And so, you know, I've thought about this a little bit. And, you know, I feel like our lives are meant to be frustrating puzzles, where the pieces are added, but in different order from other people. And so as that puzzle grows, it becomes more clear and beautiful. And we all have imperfectly pictured puzzles. So interestingly that kind of came to me the other days, I was thinking about this. And so I you know, I thought more about that, just that we all learn things in a different order. We all have different trials that we go through. And if you haven't gone through a trial, then hold on because it's coming up, or you're in the middle of it, one or the other. But that's what the point of life is. And I feel like Justin, I have gone through a lot a lot of trials before we met each other and even since we've been together that it kind of became a laughable [thing]. My younger sister and I are super close. And every time you would have another flood or you know, he diagnosed with diabetes, type one diabetes, and we adopted our two little girls, and we moved and changed careers and we had a concussion, he lost his brother, we've had several floods, we've just had a lot of things happen. And every time something else would happen, I'd call my sister and she would just kind of laugh with me and say, You have got to be kidding me like you guys have more trials than anybody I know. And I do feel like that is sometimes the case. And at the same time, I feel like we have way more rainbows than we have rain. And I feel like that's how Heavenly Father is, is that as we put our trust in Him, and he's our number one always, then everything works out. Like Justin said, you have Him as your partner, who wouldn't want the best partner in the world on your side. And so I feel like we have a cheat sheet now where it's like I don't have a hard time trusting in Him. Because He carried us through the hardest year of our life. Why would He not keep continuing to carry us through if we put our trust and faith in Him? And I feel like if we have if all we worry about is our standing with Him, who cares what somebody else is saying or doing? Or what's going on? If you're right with Him, you're right with everything else, and everything falls into its proper place. And as we focus on our relationship with Him all the rest of it is clear.

Morgan Jones Pearson 49:01

Thank you so much. Those are both so so thoughtful and helpful. And I'm going to be thinking about them. So thank you too, for your time for your examples. And I just I'm really grateful.

Kristi Osmond 49:14

Thank you so much.

Morgan Jones Pearson 49:18

We are so grateful to Justin and Kristi for joining us on this week's episode. You can find Justin's book Hearing With My Heart on the Amazon. Big thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix At Six Studios for his help with this episode and thank you for listening. We look forward to being with you again next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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