I have an encouraging word for you.
Since the time my oldest sister was in the play “The Miracle Worker” I have been fascinated with the life of Helen Keller. As I was reading a child’s library book about her life with our youngest daughter, a brand new aspect of Helen’s life came into focus. Her life exemplified something that arrested my attention.
Her voice had been stolen through sickness. Literally.
She had NO voice.
To learn to speak she held one hand on another person’s mouth to learn to lip read. She would feel the vibrations of their voice combined with the movement of their mouth. Anne Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, would spell the words being spoken to Helen, in her other hand. Eventually, Helen would touch her own lips and imitate what she felt from the speaking person’s mouth. She learned to speak. She was so determined to push past her obstacles that she would not stop.
Absolutely amazing. But that is not all!
She worked to have a voice…and she used it.
Helen Keller used her voice (she had worked so hard for) to make a difference. In the book, Helen’s Big World, it says, “Many people did not like her ideas. To Helen, words brought freedom. She would not be silent.”
I cried. I am crying now. She did not care what others thought about her voice. Helen said what the world needed to hear. She cared enough about the world that she dared to speak. She was determined to make a difference. .
Helen became a world traveler. She met all kinds of people. Despite her inability to see and hear, the cries of the hurting still reached her. Helen Keller had every “right” on this earth to do nothing.
She could have played the impossibility card.
But she refused to remain locked in her isolation.
Helen rose above the obstacles.
To Helen, learning was a privilege. She spent every waking moment trying to educate herself so that she could connect with the world. Once she was able to communicate she became a world changer.
Helen herself said, “I love my country. But my love for America is not blind. Perhaps I am more conscious of her faults because I love her so deeply.” She spoke against the war and child labor. She spoke for worker’s unions, the right for women to vote and civil rights. She spoke on behalf of people with disabilities and on behalf of children.
Grumbling and complaining about her hard life was not an option. She did not vomit in anger, she spoke with love and conviction. She diligently worked toward solutions.
I feel empowered! If Helen Keller jumped the hurdles created by being blind and mute, who am I to be silent?
I have a voice and I see the challenges.
I hear the cries of injustice.
You have a voice as well. Maybe you do not feel like you do. Has your voice been stolen? Did you learn that you should be seen and not heard? In all honestly, have you felt like no one would want to hear what you have to say?
Just think about Helen Keller. She could have used every one of these excuses and more. But she did not excuse herself, she qualified herself. Helen refused to let other people’s opinions impact her actions.
You and I can decide to make a difference. Let’s throw off the limitations that have bound us and “run the race with endurance that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1) If the road seems too long, stop and consider the ridiculously challenging obstacles Helen had to face when she was learning to speak. She was not just an amazingly gifted woman, she was determined. She did not give up. When you think you can not take another step, step one more time. Step once more. Just keep the goal in mind and keep stepping.
We “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us. (Phil. 4:13) We have within us all that we need, even though we sometimes have a hard time believing it. No matter how big our challenges are Jesus is the great leveler. Got a wall, He can scale it. Standing at a valley, He can span the divide. If we look at the challenges and compare them to ourselves we may pale in comparison. But look at them in light of Jesus and no obstacle can even come close.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying this is easy. We need endurance. Helen Keller did not learn to communicate in a few days or weeks. And if you asked her I am certain she would have said it was an arduous endeavor. But with each step she took she stepped out of her isolation and into the life of a world changer.
Coming out of the darkness and into the light is absolutely worth it.