‘She Taught Us to Stand Tall’

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Friday, May 21, 2010 at 2:40 AM

She was born into a family with power, status and money. She never lacked for anything and always had great privilege. Her father was ambassador to England, one brother became president, another attorney general, and still another became a U.S. senator.

As for her husband he became the first director of the Peace Corp and himself was a vice presidential candidate in 1972. Her daughter, oh yes she is the first lady of California as I speak. The last name is familiar, it says Kennedy. Be careful where you let you mind go after hearing the last name and when thinking of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

As all of us are Eunice was shaped by the events of her life and one of those events was the mild mental retardation of her sister Rosemary and her family’s response to it. Rosemary learned to read and write but her father; concerned about her wild mood swings and its effects on the family reputation, had her given a lobotomy at the age of 23. Instead of helping to calm Rosemary this made her condition worse and led to her being in an institution the rest of her days.

This would be the event that would shape the legacy and life of Eunice. In 1961 she championed a bill that would form a President’s Committee on Mental Retardation. But her life’s work would best be known as the founder of ‘Special Olympics’. It would become the world’s largest athletic competition for the mentally disabled. Today more than 3 million athletes in more than 160 countries compete.

Eunice had resources and who could argue with the thought that she could have done anything she wanted with those resources at her disposal. Many times those of us who have less financial resources and apparent privilege point fingers and say I could have done that if I had that kind of resource at my disposal. Be careful with that attitude, it shall not fly around God.

To make my point lets here what people said about her life. Kester Edwards a former Special Olympics competitor said, “Mrs. Shriver wasn’t making cars, she wasn’t selling houses, she was changing human lives.” Sounds like a good use of recourses to me. He went on to say she helped him, “find a place” and ‘She taught me to accept me as I am.” Funny I did not hear him say anything about her money or the fact her brother was president in those sentences.

On a card written last week that was delivered to her casket Mike Rhodes a 25 year old mentally disabled man wrote, “She taught us to stand tall.” I wonder if Mike Rhodes cared one bit that her son in law is governor of California or that Eunice graduated from Stanford.

You don’t make the lowest of low feel like standing tall by throwing money at them. You don’t help people find their place by high rolling it in social circles. No, you do that by diving into what God has called you to dive into with all the love, care and compassion you can.

We are all gifted with resources, all gifted by God to make a difference in this world he has planted us in. Pointing fingers at others with more resources is not what God has in mind. God does not call us to worry about what others have or even what we don’t have. He calls us to use the resources given to make our world a better place.

Your resources, what are you doing with them? Are you using God’s gifts to help others ‘stand tall’?

Scripture: Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to worry little about what others have and much about what we can do. Lead us to lean on you, to stay focused on your purpose for our lives. We thank you that you prepared for us something to do in advance, help us to do it not grudgingly but with all the love you instill in us. We ask these things in the name of Christ, Amen.

all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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