I just finished one of my favorite books of the year (though January was a long time away), The Blind Side by Michael Lewis. I thought it was about football, and it was, but I found my eyes misting up from time to time as I was walking on my treadmill. There’s fascinating analysis of how football has evolved since Lawrence Taylor started destroying quarterbacks and Bill Walsh created the West Coast Offense. These two forces resulted in making the left tackle a most coveted position in football.
This effects the lives of quick-footed giants – or even potential ones – in high school and college changed significantly. Lewis follows a few years in the life of Michael Oher who was taken in by a wealthy Evangelical family. I get nervous when something mainstream involves Evangelicals. Not sure we’re going to get a fair shake. This was a beautiful book that made me proud to be a Christian and challenged me to make a difference in the lives of others on a micro level.
I won’t spoil it for you, but a rich white family took in a black high school kid who had essentially raised himself, but didn’t know how to function within the structure of school – let alone a white Evangelical high school. But he became a “Freak of Nurture” due to this family’s love for him and their commitment to his success, particularly due to the relentless, fiery mother of the family who would not let Michael fail or give up on him.
And Michael Oher has been a success. He’s the left tackle for Ole Miss, but his personal transformation is what is most powerful in my mind. He earned academic honors during his freshman year of college – a 3.75 GPA – to go with his athletic prowess. It is a great story of the change that all of us are capable of if we have someone who will walk with us and help us be the person God created us to be (Michael gave his life to Christ during his high school years).
I’ll close this post with a quote from the book, but first I want to encourage you to seek opportunities to do good, to make a difference in people’s lives to help them be all God created them to be.
Near the end of the book Michael was in trouble and he ran away for a couple days and they were wondering if he was gone for good, that he had used them and their generosity and was now done with them. Upon later reflection, Sean said something helpful for those of us who might say, “What if it doesn’t work? What if we get taken advantage of?” His words: “Your mind does funny things when it’s idle,” said Sean. “But that’s when I decided that the downside was that we’d helped some kid – so even if he’d been playing us all along there really was no downside.” No downside in helping people be who God created them to be … even if they end up deciding they don’t want it after all.
I won’t tell you if he came back. Go get the book – or I’ll loan you mine (with serious collateral).