The gift of learning to love unconditionally.
The gift of realizing that life is about becoming the person we alone were created to be.
The gift of learning to want all others to succeed in their own journey.
The gift of sheer joy over small, but difficult accomplishments.
The gift of living in the present.
The gift of freedom from image and others’ opinions.
The gift of your best self being called forth.
The gift of patience.
The gift of tenderness toward all who are vulnerable.
The gift of humane values.
The gift of courage.
The gift of seeing beauty in those different from yourself.
Anyone who has not been blessed with the opportunity to love a handicapped person, needs to attend a Special Olympics to experience these gifts.
The moment of pure grace for me was when one of the children fell down in his race and the other runners all turned back to help him up. And every child was thrilled with finishing the race no matter in what order they came to the finish line. Each parent cheered equally hard for every child in the race, not just for their own.
The greatest blessing is realizing that life is not about winning, but about loving.
When my youngest son was about two, I tried to get him to talk into a tape recorder for a family message to my mother, who lived in another state. When I held the microphone up for him, he froze. I tried to help him by saying, “Tell her who you are.” He remained mute with a tortured look on his face. As I prompted him again, he blurted out desperately,
“I’M SOMEBODY! I’M SOMEBODY!”
I think that is the cry of all hearts, “I’m somebody.”
Unfortunately, even as Christians, we think that means being somehow special from being better than others. Sibling rivalry carries over even into being the children of God. I bought a Tee shirt once, that said,
“JESUS LOVES YOU, BUT I’M HIS FAVORITE.”
I thought it was funny, but more and more I see that as the root of so much of the conflict in families, churches, countries, the world.
It’s not enough to be loved and loving. We want to be smarter, better looking, richer. We want to be a STAR. Our whole culture is built on this.
Being the least of God’s children is anathema to us in any setting.
And in every conflict, we need to feel we are right, PARTICULARLY when we lose.
To feel mistreated, wronged, unappreciated allows us to be self-righteous, to cling to our sense of being SOMEBODY.
We are of eternal value because we are loved as the unique creation we are. It is not relative to anything or anyone. We are called to be the best “us” we can be. We are not called to be better than anyone.
The only place I have seen this grasped and celebrated is in the Special Olympics. There, when a child falls down, the other children in the race will go back and help them up. Every child gets a ribbon for not giving up, for finishing the race, for doing the best they can. Every parent claps and shouts for every child, not just their own.
This must be how it is in the kingdom of God.