Last year I saw the film, “The Blind Side”, which told the story of Baltimore Raven Michael Oher’s journey from homelessness to triumph. Oher is the adoptive son of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, also parents of daughter, Collins, and son Sean, Jr. I enjoyed the movie tremendously, and was curious to know how much was real and how much was Hollywood. I’m a sucker for this type of story, and admit to being in tears on and off through the whole film. I came out of the theater feeling happy and in charity with my fellow humans. Still I wondered.
Last Sunday I was surfing the internet for new books for my library reserve list, when I discovered that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy had co-authored, with Sally Jenkins, a book entitled, “In a Heartbeat: Sharing The Power of Cheerful Giving”. My library had a copy available, and I made it with 15 minutes to spare. I began reading right away, and by the time I fell asleep I was already halfway through. I finished it before lunch the next day. I believe I ate something while I read, but I couldn’t tell you what, I was so engrossed.
Biographies are not usually page-turners, but I didn’t so much read this book as inhale it. In a time when being a Christian seems to have very little to do with Christ, I encountered in the Tuohys, and in many of the other characters who people its pages, a kind of Christianity I can get behind. As Leigh Anne and Sean are quick to note, they are not perfect, but on every page, who they are speaks loudly and clearly. They are cheerful givers, and they spell out plainly what that is and how each of us is capable of doing something, no matter how small. This philosophy is so much a part of their lives it’s like a kind of breathing for them.
They neither preach nor proselytize. They’re not trying to convince anyone or judge anyone. The Tuohys have their own rags-to-riches story, and although their tale was not so desperate as Michael’s, they know what being poor is. They are quick to say that there are many ways to be a cheerful giver which have nothing to do with money and everything to do with heart.
The Tuohys are very likable people. Perfectly mated and matched, steady Sean and larger-than-life Leigh Ann, they and their three children, Collins, S. J. and Michael Oher, form a solid, united front. They are people I respect, and I feel I know them so well, from the movie and my reading, that I would probably embarrass myself were I ever to meet them. Their description of how Michael came to be their son is low-key, humorous and loving. They present it as more of an inevitability, than as a remarkable act of love.
“The Blind Side,” the book on which it was based, Michael Oher’s book and now the Tuohys’, are focusing enormous, positive attention on the subject of adoption and fostering. In 2009 there were some 400,000 children in the system, with another 300,000 projected to join them in 2010. Roughly 100,000 of them will be eligible for adoption. Unless they find families or care, statistics show that 70% will end up homeless or in jail.
They mention one statistic which stands out to me more than anything I have heard in a long time. “if every church in the United States would see to it that just one child is adopted, the problem of homeless children in this country would disappear. If each of us got involved, we could wipe it out overnight.” Clear proof that one person, or one family, can make a difference.
- “Blind Side” family’s story inspires others (reuters.com)
- Michael Oher Asks Todd McShay: What Are My Character Issues? (sbnation.com)