Monday, April 15, 2013
a book and a blindfold
Grace and I have recently discovered something that we enjoy doing together...reading The Story of Helen Keller. (see thrift store finds from this post). My husband and I used to read to the kids all the time when they were little. Sadly, we rarely, if ever, read to them anymore... except from the scriptures. I once taught a class
on the importance of reading to children even when they are older. I had read several studies on the benefits of doing so, and I remember thinking that I hoped we would continue that tradition as our kids got older. We all know that life is full of distractions though, and it is so easy to get sidetracked from worthy goals.
Just to understand a little bit more about how Helen's world was changed when she became both blind and deaf from an illness, we took turns wearing an airline sleep mask. :) The story is fascinating, and it has made us both appreciate our senses and how easy it was for us to learn to read and write compared to Helen. It is miraculous how Helen's world was changed forever through the tutelage of Anne Sullivan.
After Helen became blind and deaf as a young child, her parents didn't discipline her. I am guessing that they didn't know how to, or felt so bad for her in this condition that they didn't want to make things worse. She had temper tantrums when she wouldn't get her own way. When Anne came to teach her, Anne realized that Helen could only learn if she could be taught obedience. Anne wrote, "I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of the child." (p.194)
To teach Helen obedience, Anne had to take her away from her family for a while. She took her to a little garden house not far from Helen's home. When Anne had to be firm with Helen, she kicked and screamed in defiance. She was probably scared also, and simply did not understand. Gradually, with Anne's consistency, Helen began to learn obedience. Then, with time, a whole new exciting world was opened up to her! She began to learn that objects had names, and words associated with them. In time she began to write and read. Imagine how she was then able to communicate with her family and understand the world around her!
Like Helen, I have a teacher...God. I am learning in recent months how He wants to show me great things. I know that I am sometimes like Helen. I rebel because I don't want to be obedient to His will. Because I don't understand, or I am afraid. When I am humble, and teachable, He can begin to show me things about myself that I would have never understood on my own.
And while Helen was probably terrified, alone, and confused at being in a new place away from her family, that experience was a turning point in her life. I have struggled with some personal things in my own life. When things got particularly difficult a few months ago, I received a prompting from the Lord one day to "humble myself". I didn't know what it meant, but I tried my best to be obedient. During that time, He began to teach me, and I am starting to understand things about myself, my relationships, and the world that I could have never understood on my own...things that have made such a difference in my life already! I now am beginning to better understand how a partnership with God, is a partnership with light and greatness, just as Helen discovered with Anne.
So the next time I want to kick and scream when I am angry or scared, or I simply don't understand...I hope I can remember this story of Helen, and realize patience...that God is teaching me to prepare me for something great!