"The Blind Side," based on the book, "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis, retells the story of American Football star, Michael Oher, who plays for Baltimore Ravens.
It is a heart-warming drama about one person's triumph over life's struggles, and an encouragement for people to do acts of kindness that go a long way.
As a child, Michael moved from one foster home to the next after being forcibly taken by social welfare from his mother at age seven. Before that, the place he considered home was that side of town where gangs, out-of-school youth, poor and homeless people call their own. It is that side of town nobody dares to explore in the dead of the night for fear of robbers and gangsters.
Michael's father was murdered in prison when he was in senior highschool. He never had the chance to know him because he had always been behind bars. His mother, he virtually lost to drugs, alcohol and prostitution.
He never performed well in school. In fact, he consistently received "D's," just enough to promote him year after year in public school. But in a stroke of fate, he was able to move to a private Christian institution at the urging of an auto mechanic acquaintance, Tony Henderson.
Originally, only Tony's son intended to enroll at Briarcrest Christian School, but the football coach noticed Michael's potential and urged the board to give the child a chance. In a scene with the teachers and administrators of the school, Burt Cotton persuaded them, saying, ""We do not admit Michael Oher because of sports. We admit him because it is the right thing to do." This he said after challenging them to take the "Christian" in their school's motto seriously.
Michael was eventually accepted, but life at Briarcrest wasn't easy for the newcomer. He felt out of place. He neither talked nor participated in his classes. He was failing them all, and his teachers did not know what to do.
In one discarded essay, Michael even wrote:
"I look and I see white everywhere--white walls, white floors and a lot of white people. The teachers do not know I have no idea of everything they are talking about. I do not want to listen to anyone, especially the teachers.They are giving homeworks and expecting me to do the problems on my own. I have never done homework in my life. I go in the bathroom, look in the mirror and say, 'This is not Michael Oher.'"
This loneliness went on for sometime until he met the son of a former basketball star and a strong-willed interior designer, a boy named Sean Jr.
SJ's family is undeniably wealthy. His father, Sean Tuohy, used to play for the New Jersey Nets before becoming a sports commentator for NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. His mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy, is an interior designer who was a cheerleader for the University of Mississippi. The family also owns over 80 franchises of leading fast food chains in America.
It was Leigh Anne who really had a soft spot for Michael ever since they saw him walking to the school gym where he could warm himself one frigid night. She could not turn a blind eye to the child, and instead, invited him to spend the night in their house.
That single incident eventually led to Michael's integration to the Tuohy family where, for the first time, he received the love and support he never had from his parents. The Tuohy couple eventually applied to become his legal guardian after slowly gaining the boy's trust.
From then on, Michael's life took a 180-degree turn. He learned to labor in his studies to qualify for the school's football team. When he finally met the grade requirements, Coach Cotton drafted him in. Though his gentle nature proved a limitation at first, they finally discovered how to harness his excessive "protective instincts" to make him one of the most promising football players of his time.
He eventually received several commendations like "Lineman of the Year," and "the #5 offensive lineman prospect in the country" among others.
After one of Michael's first ever official games, SJ sent out videos of his big brother's outstanding performance to several leading universities, including the "University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University, the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and the University of South Carolina." This caught their attention and Michael slowly received invitations to study in the said universities.
He eventually decided to enter his guardians' alma mater, the University of Mississippi, to play for the Ole Miss Rebels. His decision led to an NCAA investigation of possible collusion between the Tuohys and Ole Miss.
This strained Michael's relationship with Leigh Anne whom he accused, for the first time, of showing him kindness only to influence his decision to play at Ole Miss. He thought that was her tactic to help her alma mater's football team win in the NCAA.
After a brief confrontation, Michael ran away in search for his biological mother. He ended up in their old home with his old acquaintances. He was invited to spend the night in their den of alcohol and women, but Michael was offended by their indecent inquiries about his step sister. A commotion broke out, and his gangster friends found themselves flat on the floor after successive tackles of a world-class athlete.
Michael eventually calls Leigh Anne and the two had a heart-to-heart talk about the issue. In their conversation, Michael reveals brief portions of his dark childhood. He retold how his mother used to tell him to close his eyes everytime she did drugs or had a customer for the night.
Michael's own words were, "When I was little and something awful was happening, my mom tells me to close my eyes. She was trying to keep me from seeing her do her job and all the other bad things. And when she was finished or when all the bad things are over, she'll say 'Now when I count to three, you open your eyes. The past is gone, the world is a good place and it's all go'nna be okay."
The two talked about his life a little more before Leigh Anne asked Michael if he really wanted to play football. She did this after realizing that she never really had the opportunity to hear his son's thoughts on the issue. She also assured him that he could choose the school and team if he wanted to play.
That mother-and-son conversation only confirmed Michael's desire to play for Ole Miss. He had a new reason to play there. He said, "Because it's where my family goes to school. It's where they've always been to school."
Finally, the sad mask falls off his face to reveal a long overdue smile. Michael found his place and his family. He was on his way to achieving his dreams. These may have not been possible if he was overlooked as another of society's failures.
|Photo from loveofstpaul.blogspot.com|
The greatest lesson this movie imparts for Christians is the challenge to examine one's faith. Here, I remember James 2 and the proper interaction of faith and works. Works can never save a soul, but they can prove the genuineness of faith.
If one claims to be a Christian but his life virtually goes against that claim, most probably, his faith in Jesus is hollow. But if he professes faith in Christ and his faith bears good deeds, even little ones, praise God for he is truly saved.
The moment Leigh Anne laid her eyes on Michael, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit told her that the right thing to do was to help him. Though her socialite friends viewed her acts of charity as only "white guilt," I know it was much more-- the prodding of God's Spirit.
She was right when she corrected a friend who said she was changing Michael's life with all the good things she was doing. "No," Leigh Anne said, "He's changing mine."
God really uses people to make us realize how we fair in our Christian walk. It will hurt a lot of times but we must be thankful because our Father prunes and molds us for we are His. In Leigh Anne's case, God made her see the need of so many people. That struck a chord in her heart, knowing that she had always enjoyed life's wealth.
That may be one great struggle for her. Thus, God sent a young man who never knew a loving family, who had no place to warm himself in a cold night, who had never slept on a bed, who had no parents, and who had virtually nothing to challenge her to practice her faith.
It may not be wealth for us. It may be time or relationships or talents. But whatever our greatest struggle is, be sensitive to God's pruning and obey Him when he does. But if despite one's obvious self-centeredness no pruning or discipline comes, it's high time to heed the Apostle Paul's exhortation:
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)"
To God be all glory, honor and praise!