i did something i swore i would never do.
i watched "the blindside" starring sandra bullock and tim mcgraw. i get a little nauseous just typing it.
you see, it is the story of one michael oher, and his amazing tale of rising to being drafted by an nfl team and playing professional football. it would be a perfectly awesome story and movie if he wasn't drafted by the purple browns of baltimore, but he was, and so i had sworn that i would never watch such a piece of filth.
but i did.
and i'm glad i did.
what an amazing story. i mean, michael's story is certainly inspirational, going from the projects to the pros, but i was far more moved by the story of leigh ann tuohy and her family, and their compassion, generosity, and extraordinary love. the film is 5 years old now, so i'm not worried about giving anything away at this point. SPOILER ALERT. the kid is from a rough background, finds himself somehow (by the grace of God?) going to a private school, but still struggling to survive with no home, no clothes, no money. until mrs. tuohy takes over. as she discovers the reality of his predicament, she offers him hospitality and a mother's love in ways that make all the others in the movie uncomfortable. her love exposes their racism, their fear, and their inability to love. she and her husband (who is portrayed as a guy who will do whatever she says) show him such a welcoming love that he becomes part of the family before they even legally adopt him. which they do. and the story continues with michael's rise to college success and then to the pros. amazing.
but what intrigues me is the question of compassion. one rainy night (at least as it is told in the movie), the tuohy family encounters michael walking out in the cold and dark. they say hi, and then continue on their way, until leigh ann has second thoughts, and tells her husband to turn around. she makes a decision in that moment to offer some pretty uncomfortable hospitality and compassion. uncomfortable for her, for him, for her family, and for her friends. but she does it. it is a critical moment, that may seem like a small, rather insignificant moment in the grand scheme of things, but it is a life-changing moment. for her. for her daughter. for her son. for her husband. for michael, of course. and for the thousands upon thousands who have now seen or heard this story. amazing.
and the question of compassion is this: what would you do? would you welcome a near-stranger into your home? what if they were homeless? what if they were of a different race than you? what if they barely spoke? what if they dressed differently or smelled differently or acted differently? what would stop you from loving them or showing them compassion? safety? fear? social norms? apathy?
it is a compelling story, at least for me, because i wonder how many times i have driven past michael oher, and missed an opportunity to demonstrate real compassion that could change a life. not least of all my own.