Life for Olympian Wilma Rudolph didn’t start out fair

| July 19, 2013 | 0 Comments




Chaplain (Capt.) Sam Olmos
30th Signal Battalion, 516th Signal Brigade
311th Signal Command

“It’s not fair!” protests the 5-year-old.

“Life isn’t fair,” her mother responds.

Maybe you remember your own mother telling you that life isn’t fair and struggling at how uncool that came across.

Often, life is not fair and such teaching is not realistically preparing our young people for its challenges.

Self-help author Dennis Wholey wrote, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.”

Life certainly wasn’t fair to Wilma Rudolph, who was born premature at 4.5 pounds in 1940. At the age of 4, she contracted infantile paralysis that caused her leg and foot to become twisted, requiring her to wear a leg brace until the age of 9. For the next couple of years, she wore orthopedic shoes, but incredibly, by the age of 12, she had become handicap free.

Once free to run, Wilma never looked back. At her first opportunity, she joined the high school basketball team, like her older sister, and set records for scoring. As a sophomore in high school, she was spotted by Tennessee State track and field coach Ed Temple and raced in the summer program with the “Tigerbelles.” Six years later, at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Wilma Rudolph, the once brace-wearing, prematurely born, disabled child, won three Olympic Gold Medals!

She earned the title as the world’s fastest woman. Not only was the early physical life of this champion not fair, but her accomplishments were done during the challenging civil rights era at a time when black women were not encouraged to excel at such things.

Jesus once told a parable about a vineyard owner (representing God) who hired three separate groups of men — one in the morning, one at noon and one only an hour before quitting time — yet paid them all the same. The ones hired in the morning complained that it was only fair they should get more, but the owner gently replied, “I paid you our agreed price, and it’s my right to pay others what I likewise agreed for them.”

Perhaps you feel like life and God have not been fair to you. Whatever you’ve been given, God intends for you to use it to the best of your abilities. We can spend our time complaining about what we do not have or how unfair life has been to us, or we can be thankful for the things we do have and make the best of them.

Wilma Rudolph could have spent the remainder of her teenage years complaining about how life had dealt her an unfair hand. Instead, she took what was given to her, invested her talents and came out a champion.

I encourage you to take what you’ve been given, great or small, and invest it into something meaningful and productive. This method is what pleases God and what will make your life worth living.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News

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