Friday, January 4, 2008

Remarkable Spirit

With the end in sight, Maranda pushes herself to a full sprint and within seconds surpasses her worthy challengers. Now there’s no other between her and the destiny of a Special Olympics medal.

Moments away from victory, Maranda hears a loud guttural groan from the crowd. She peers back over her shoulder and discovers one of her opponents face down on the track.

With all eyes on the fallen athlete, Maranda’s 180-degree journey backward goes unnoticed until she arrives to the spiritually stung competitor. Maranda reaches down and says, “Take my hand and let’s finish the race together.” United by hands, both athletes begin again to a roaring applause cheering on the unexpected selfless act.

There is one in the crowd who is not surprised at Maranda’s nobility and for Kimberly it brings her back to the time when she first met Maranda. Before coming to live with Kimberly as a foster child, Maranda had been in 50 different foster homes in 6 years.

Yes, you are reading that right. That is 50 different homes . . . 50 different beds . . . 50 different sets of families, and worst of all, 50 different times Maranda’s hope for a possible loving and normal life were crushed. Imagine for a moment what your self-esteem would be like if you were told every 45 days over the next 6 years, “Leave, we no longer want you in this family.” By the third year, many of us would become converts of suicide’s lie of worthlessness.
Maranda was created with a remarkable spirit in order to endure such life-devastating challenges—not for her sake alone but mostly to give hope to a world in despair.

Maranda’s mental disability is not obvious. When a new family would take her home they soon discovered she didn’t know how to brush her hair or teeth and other basic things many teenagers do naturally. Both of her parents, also mentally disabled, died when she was very young. From there Maranda went to live with her grandmother but months later she also passed on leaving her to foster care.

In the beginning, Kimberly was determined to provide a stable and loving environment for Maranda. However, soon after the two began their lives as a family, Kimberly was diagnosed with liver cancer. Given only a matter of months to live, Kimberly’s extended family put enormous pressure on her to give Maranda back.
“Those were dark and lonely times in my life,” Kimberly said. “No one knows how to act around a person who is sentenced to death so they just avoid them—no more visits and no more phone calls.”
One distraught night, Kimberly sat in solemn contemplation—not of her fate but that of Maranda’s . . . overwhelmed at the thought of sending her back. In her soul-searching moment, Kimberly is unaware of Maranda’s approach toward her. She takes Kimberly’s teary covered hands and holds them next to her heart and says, “I know how to cry really good, let me help you.”

Out of their brokenness, Kimberly and Maranda became whole—two people the world might say have little to offer achieved enlightenment in their most defining moment. Sparked by a remarkable spirit, they discovered the only thing they had to give was themselves and that is exactly what the other needed.

Thirty-four months later, Kimberly’s cancer is in remission and for the first time in years she is working again. Maranda is nothing less than extraordinary as is the case today on the field of competition. With the cheering crowd on their feet encouraging her and the once fallen athlete, a remarkable thing happened. As they reached the finish line, they joined hands with the other challengers and symbolically concluded the race together.

These are but two in a vast sea of testaments that will help guide you to your destiny.

That's the way things come clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they've been all along. Madeleine L'Engle

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