“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” ~ Romans 12: 10(NKJV)
For those who are Winter Olympic fans, more than likely they will recognize the name of Alex Bilodeau and his story. We first became familiar with Alex in 2010 in Vancouver when he won a men’s moguls gold medal for his home country of Canada. At that time we were also introduced to Frederic Bilodeau. Their story was one of the most memorable and emotional moments of the games. It was repeated again this year in Sochi as Alex was a repeat gold medalist. Frederic Bilodeau is Alex’s older brother who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age. Frederic is Alex’s inspiration and motivation to strive to live up to his full potential and abilities.
As was the case in Vancouver, again this year in Sochi, Frederic was at the finish line yelling excitedly for his brother. He was elated as Alex made his way over and lifted him up over the barrier to give him a great big bear hug. Alex included Frederic in his moment of victory, elation and celebration. Alex has included and shared his fame and glory with his brother beyond the sports arena. Alex has said through tears that he sees his brother’s every day struggles and is in awe of his attitude on life despite his difficulties. With love and admiration Alex has said of Frederic, “Every little thing in life is hard for him. I always complain, and he has every reason in the world to complain and he never does. He has dreams like you and I but he can’t go after his dreams.”
How powerful it is to feel included. The dictionary defines include as; comprise or reckon in as a whole; treat or regard as included. We are surrounded by people who desperately need to feel treated or regarded as included. They want to experience being a part of a whole. They may not be able to fulfill their dreams due to limitations of various kinds but by our actions we can include them on our journey. Conversely, by our actions they can feel excluded. Randy Kilgore writes, “Those who suffer can be found all around us – people struggling against loneliness, loss, health issues, etc. Their cries, muted by our many distractions, plead for mercy and comfort, for hope and help.” Author Sheila Walsh says, “We are the body of Christ, and deep within each of us is a thirst to be known and loved, to be part of the stream of life.”
As the result of Frederic being included in the “stream of life” of his famous brother he now has had success and acclaim in his own right selling his artwork to benefit the Cerebral Palsy Association of Quebec and he’s become a model for what individuals with disabilities can achieve. As the result of this relationship of inclusion, Alex has said when they are out in public together that Frederic is the one that is the most recognized!
“This is the heartbeat of friendships, rejoicing, honoring, applauding, commending, saluting, toasting the wonderful people in our lives. Not for what they do, but for who they are, and for what they mean to us.” — Nicole Johnson
Reflections on INCLUDED
Have you ever been to a party or other occasion where you felt totally left out? A place where you felt like you “stood out like a sore thumb” as someone who did not fit in at this event? Have you ever been rescued from that feeling by someone that everyone seemed to know and like? Do you know that feeling of relief that comes from being included…from feeling wanted…from feeling like you matter to at least one person? We live in a busy world where we flit from one activity to another like bees who are pollinating flowers. We barely stay in one place long enough to even be recognized before moving on to the next activity. Somehow our society has made us feel that there is value in busyness and that there is power in knowing a number of people and in having them recognize us. The truth is that the ones who matter most are the ones that we sometimes neglect as we try to fill that desire to be loved, accepted, admired and respected.
What about those who are unable to “fit the mold?” Those who are hampered by disabilities, whether physical or emotional or mental…some temporary, some lasting…but the end result of those disabilities is that they no longer seem to fit in with this frantic pace. If we are not carefully watching, we will knock them down emotionally and spiritually by ignoring them or worse, not even seeing them. When we are in tune with the Holy Spirit, He points them out to us. He calls us to draw them into the inner circle of warmth and acceptance. He causes us to not only see them, but to acknowledge their need to feel a part of our lives and to feel included as part of the group.
Will you spend time with the Lord today so that He can help you be more sensitive to the leading of His Spirit? And when He prompts you to include someone, will you slow down and be His vessel to be used to minister to those who feel excluded?
Prayer for the hurting person:
Please help this one who is hurting to remember that she was on Your mind when You gave Your life for her on Calvary. John 3:16 reveals our worth to You. The sacrifice you made for us shows the depth of your love and the height of our value in Your eyes. Help her to feel honored and treasured by You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
Help me to yield to your call today to spend intimate time alone with You. May I stop and listen to Your voice and obey your promptings to love and serve others who are feeling excluded. Father, help me to remember that, but for your grace, I too could be on the outside looking in. Thank you for including me in Your plan of redemption. Help me to bring others along and love them with Your love.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.