More than anything else, the Olympics seem to highlight the importance of family. Grandparents, mothers and fathers gather at the ropes to cheer on their sons and daughters lifting banners of encouragement high above their heads. Brothers and sisters, husbands and wives embrace one another in tears, celebrating victory and comforting one another in defeat.
Who could not be moved by the images of Alpine Skier Bode Miller’s wife, Morgan, tenderly encouraging and comforting him as he sought to medal in his third Olympics? Or the convulsion of tears that gripped him when he won the bronze and remembered his brother who died?
The Canadian Dufour-Lapointe sisters won gold and silver in the moguls on the second day, and two days later the Dutch twins, Michel and Ronald Mulder, took home both the gold and the bronze medals in men’s speed skating. And where would figure skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White be without their moms?
Noell Pikus-Pace competed in the Women’s Skeleton, an event in which athletes plummet head-first down the luge track reaching speeds up to 80 mph. I will remember her, not so much because she won the silver, but because of her joy as a mother for her children and her love for her husband, who encouraged her to return to Olympic competition after she miscarried a third child.
And, I will remember the Canadian free skier, Alex Bilodeau, who won gold in the moguls. As soon as Alex knew he had won the gold he looked for one person, his brother, Frederic who suffers from cerebral palsy. Finding his brother, he wrapped his arms around him and dragged him over the ropes to celebrate his victory.
Asked about his action, Alex explained, “It's crazy the motivation that he takes and every step is very hard for him. In life, I have an easy path and I need to go out there and do the best I can just out of respect to him. … he’s my everyday inspiration.”
Most of us will live obscure lives of virtual anonymity, but in our families no one is obscure or anonymous. Each one is important.
The Bible says, ‘He places the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68:6). The Bible is a family book. It starts with Adam and Eve, continues with Noah, traces God’s redemption through Abraham and culminates in the child Jesus swaddled in the arms of Mary and Joseph. Jesus expanded the importance of family when he said, “Everyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother, sister and mother.”
Like Jesus, we too can expand our families to include others. We can embrace the young as our sons and daughters, the old as our mothers and fathers. We can embrace the stranger as our brother and sister. What an amazing world it would be if each of us saw one another as family.
Most of us will never be Olympians, but each of us can celebrate what is better than gold or silver. We can celebrate the relationships God gives us. We can be there for each other, encouraging, cheering each other on and comforting one another whenever tragedy strikes. We can bind up each other’s wounds and exhort each other to a higher plane.