Do you feel you don’t fit in and that you are a misfit? Then read on and discover how much your life matters to God and others.
“If it had not been for Anne Sullivan, the name of Helen Keller would have remained unknown.” With these remarkable words, Helen Keller paid tribute to a woman who made a huge difference in her life.
Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, published 14 books, met every U.S. president from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy, visited 35 countries on five continents and was a champion for the blind. The world knows the story of Helen Keller and how her remarkable teacher, Anne Sullivan, turned this wild, hopeless young girl’s life around.
Winston Churchill said, “Helen Keller was one of the most powerful examples of triumph over adversity.” When Queen Victoria asked Helen how she accounted for her amazing accomplishments in life, Helen’s reply was, “If it had not been for Anne Sullivan, the name of Helen Keller would have remained unknown.”
Helen certainly could have been considered a hopeless case, a misfit, with no hope of any kind for the future before Anne Sullivan came into her life. But what about Anne Sullivan? What was her childhood like? What made her able to patiently nurture and take a chance on this multiply challenged child? Was Anne, too, the product of others taking a chance and turning her world around?
Anne Sullivan could truly have been considered a lost cause—a misfit. She had everything against her. Anne’s mother died when she was young. Her father was a drunk, and was very cruel to the children. He eventually abandoned his children. Anne, half blind herself, was placed in a poorhouse along with people who were considered insane, where survival was a daily chore. She watched her beloved brother die there, and grew more defiant and hostile.
But one day a committee came to investigate the institution, and while they were there, Anne begged them to send her to a school for the blind. Someone from the committee listened, took to heart her request, and she was placed in Perkins School for the Blind. There she still faced great challenges, but she found some caring and sympathetic teachers after whom she would choose to model her life.
Anne did not allow her childhood to permanently embitter her heart. Instead, she became a teacher and mentor to Helen Keller, who had no hope either until Anne Sullivan came along. Anne Sullivan became a champion of a misfit. There is another example of a champion listed in the Bible—King David.
David, Champion of Misfits
David was a great man who was called a man after God’s own heart at the end of His life. He had a caring heart for the people, and they knew it. He had learned this great caring by being a shepherd first. David had risked his life many times saving his sheep from the jaws of a lion or bear. He stood up against Goliath when no one else would.
For many years, David lived in great danger from jealous King Saul, and so he hid himself. Amazingly, while hiding in a cave, hundreds of people came to follow him. They were the misfits and those who were mistreated under the rule of Saul. David had become the captain of the misfits and soon their king. (1 Samuel 22:1-2)
God, the Greatest Champion
In Ezekiel 34:11-16 it talks about our great God who will come and gather up all those who are scattered. He will go out and search for His lost sheep. He will gather them, feed them and cause them to lie down and fear no more. He will take away their pain and sorrow. God will seek out the lost, bring back those who have strayed, bind up the crippled and strengthen the weak. God will intervene in this world and its sorrows. But in the meantime we, too, must become champions.
Becoming a Champion
You don’t have to be a great hero of the Bible to be a champion in someone’s life. All we have to do is be alert to people and their needs. Be an encourager. Look for those who are down and take time to find good qualities in them and let them know.
I can relate to Anne and others who were misfits. At times I still feel like a misfit, especially if I have goofed up. During my times of deepest discouragement, I’ve asked God to encourage me or send an encourager. Then someone would come along and lift my spirits by a kind word that validates that I am special, that I belong, and that God has a purpose for me. Encouragement is one of the most important things you can do for someone who may feel worthless.
Look for those who seem to be the weak, neglected or ignored. Make it a point to make them feel special. Validate them as being a very important, needed part of the human race and especially of the Church. Be alert to those who are shy and who may not fit in. Make them feel a part of your congregation. It is easy to mingle with our friends when we attend church, but why not make it a point to seek out those who do not fit in?
Become a mentor to an orphan or other young person in need. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (NIV). In this world there are plenty of children who are being raised without fathers and some without mothers. Take the time to look around and get involved with the fatherless! Not just occasionally, but roll your sleeves up, get involved and make a difference. Pray for them, care for them and include them in some of your family activities.
We all can become champions if only we take the time to reach out. I would not be where I am today without the help from mentors who have come along to give me a helping hand. As Helen Keller said in an article, “We Can Do More,” in Home Magazine’s February 1934 issue: “We imagine we cannot do anything important because we are not fitted like the great men and women about whom we read. But if we examine ourselves diligently, we may discover that we possess a talent with which we can create beauty or joy, or assist somebody else to achieve something fine.” Remember Anne Sullivan, David and God’s example—be a champion of misfits!