How often do we remember inspiring personalities but fail to acknowledge those who made them a model of inspiration? Helen Keller is one such person. Her incredible life despite her being a deaf and blind person has impacted the world.
But every bit of Helen's achievements stemmed from the efforts of Anne Sullivan, her teacher, guide and companion.
Anne was born in a humble home with four other siblings. Her family migrated from Ireland to United States to escape the Great Famine of the 1840s. Sullivan was herself a victim to poor eyesight, due to a trachoma, an eye disease she contracted when she was five. After the death of her mother, her father abandoned the family and Anne grew in Tewksbury Almshouse, a home for the poor.
Anne chose education as a means to untangle herself from poverty and trained at the Perkins School for the Blind. At just 20 years of age, she was chosen by the school director Michael Anagnos, to work for Keller's family as a tutor. She was to help their deaf-blind, angry and rebellious seven-year-old girl, Helen Keller.
It would have almost seemed impossible to make the deaf and blind girl understand how the world looked like and how words sounded like. But the teacher's perseverance knew no bounds. Anne taught Helen to read, write and speak. She would let Helen touch the objects with one hand and would write the word on her other.
Helen learnt to speak by putting her hands over Sullivan's throat feeling the vibrations it made for each sound.
Though there was no progress early on, Anne's patience was greater than Helen's disability. This eventually led Helen to be the first blind-deaf person to earn a college degree. Helen went on to become a champion for the rights of the disabled around the world.
The teacher and the student were an inseparable duo and Anne breathed her last, holding Helen's hands.
In some sense all of us are disabled. It is hard to take in, but it is true. We are broken, incapable and rebellious in our hearts, unable to live a life we are called to live. But the God who created us, has called us to live a life set apart for His glory. He is patient enough to deal with our stubborn hearts.
The Bible says, "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
If the efforts of one young teacher could build a person to be an inspiration for millions, God is infinitely more capable of shaping our broken pieces. Remember He will never give up on you until you are transformed to be who He has called you to be! May we place ourselves in God's hands and be led by him into our glorious destiny!