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Many Challenges, Many Triumphs

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What do you think of when you hear the word hero? Do you think of celebrities, athletes, or do you think of brave people overcoming amazing odds? Heroes can come in every shape and size; every race or culture; and overcome disaster or tragedy. My hero is a woman by the name of Jeanne. I know her because she leads the 7th and 8th grade youth group at my church. That in itself might be heroic. I am out of that class now that I am in high school, but she had a profound effect on everyone in my family. Her sister died when she was younger, she teaches the special education kids at Creekside Middle School, and she has overcome cancer. These are only a few of the challenges Jeanne has faced in her life. Jeanne can be a little hard to get along with for some people. She is a very direct and demanding person, but she is also fun and outgoing. She also possesses super human strength. No, she is not a body builder; she is simply strong in her heart. That truly is heroic. She is like a pillar, always strong, dependable, and always in plain sight. Jeanne is brave and strong and holds you up like a pillar, so you can’t fall down. I think people like Jeanne are heroes that do not get the recognition that they deserve.

Two of the biggest things in Jeanne’s life are church and school. In fact, the biggest challenge in her life right now is trying to balance her job at Creekside and everything she wants to do at church. She works with the special education kids at Creekside Middle School, and she is the perfect person for the job. The reason she got into this line of work, she says, is because “One of my friends when I was younger had cerebral palsy, and I loved to help her. I just knew I could make a difference to kids who learn differently.” Jeanne comes to church some Sunday mornings and has some spectacular stories to tell. Once, she had to call in security because one of her kids got out of control. When the officer was trying to handcuff the kid, he got her instead. She made a joke out of all of it, and she really showed that she was a hero. She always stays calm for everyone and makes light of things that get out of control. Church is another huge part of her life. Jeanne does so much to help our church. In addition to her everyday job, she volunteers to organize activities and just help the church. She is also an amazing teacher in youth group. Jeanne likes to get her students involved in church, and she organizes and participates in activities for us. She is always fun and outgoing, and loves what she does, both at school and at church.

The most inspirational person in Jeanne’s life is Jesus. In fact, six of her ten answers involved God in some way. Jeanne said the biggest challenge ever in her life was when her sister, then her father, died. Her sister got a brain tumor, and she died three months later when she was 29. Her father died not long after that. These brought out heroic traits because she accepted it and went on with her life. She never forgot her sister or her father, but she adapted and flourished. These two events taught her that no one is in control of their lives, and you have to rely on God and just surrender. Many people have influenced Jeanne’s life, and through her, me. Her biggest inspiration in her family was her father. He told her that if you put your mind to something you will get it accomplished. He also told her to make a difference in the world, and she has kept her word. I think Jeanne has made a huge difference in the worlds of many people. Another huge obstacle Jeanne has had to overcome recently was breast cancer. I asked her if the experience made her stronger. She immediately said “That’s an easy one. Of course it made me stronger. How could it not? I also really re-learned the lesson that I am not in control. Afterwards, I asked ‘Why can’t I give up control of the rest of my life?’” She displays yet another hero trait in the question after that. When I asked her how the church had influenced her, she said that it was the whole grace and forgiveness thing that teaches her that she can never be perfect. It takes a heroic effort to admit that.

We all possess heroic traits, but we aren’t all recognized. One famous hero, though, was Odysseus. Jeanne can be compared to him in many ways. As Odysseus was trying to make it home from Troy, he had to overcome great difficulties. Jeanne has had no fewer difficulties to overcome. Odysseus held on to what he loved, and never gave up on his love for Penelope. How Odysseus loved Penelope is how Jeanne loves her family. Everybody that she knows is the Ithacans. The suitors are the people that are trying to bring her down. Jeanne stays strong though and takes stuff as it comes, and she will never give up. There are many differences between her and Odysseus. Jeanne is not very patient, while Odysseus could sit around and wait for days, and Jeanne is not proud, Odysseus was the epitome of pride. He went into Cyclops’ cave because he was proud; and he didn’t tell his men about the bag of winds because he was proud. We all can relate to Odysseus in some way.

I asked her another question just out of curiosity. I asked who her hero was. She responded that a fourth grade teacher and fifth grade teacher are her heroes because they not only teach their kids really well; they also have such great, kind, and loving personalities. I can see why Jeanne would like these two teachers because they sound just like her. Jeanne is just someone you want to be around. She seems to attract people like a beautiful place; you just want to see it. She certainly attracted my family when we came to church the first time. Through all the challenges in her life Jeanne has stood strong, loving, and kind. I think, and I am sure my family would agree, that Jeanne is a true hero. When I asked if she was content in where she was in life, she simply said “Absolutely, absolutely.”





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