Woodlawn: The Movie & The Amputation

Woodlawn, Amputation, Open DoorsI got my foot stuck in a sawmill, lost half of it, and that was the end of my baseball career.

I’m paraphrasing the scene which lasted about a minute but which left such an impact as I watched Woodlawn with my boys. It’s a scene I’ve played over in my mind amazed at how that tragic event changed thousands of lives.

I went into Woodlawn expecting a cool football movie for my kids, but Woodlawn isn’t a football movie as much as it’s a movie about the racial tension and what happens when we ask God to show up. Football is simply the tool God used to show His Grace in this instance.

Woodlawn Public High School was the scene of race riots, a place of fear, anger, and distrust. It was a place that used physical restraints on students who endangered others

It was certainly no place for a soul like Hank to take to walk his feeble, cane-leaning body. It could certainly be no place God would want to be, and yet that’s exactly where God was thanks to His courage given to one man, the limping Hank, and Hank’s persistence and belief that God was exactly what was needed in the midst of the turmoil.

It was the voice of this one man

that made such a difference.

It was a voice that may not have been heard if tragedy hadn’t entered Hank’s life, a voice that may not have been heard had Hank’s dream, Hank’s plans been granted rather than God’s. It is also a voice that would not have been heard had Hank refused to listen to the Holy Spirit and held onto bitterness, loss, self-pity, and despair.

Had Hank given up when his plans were so suddenly and desperately dashed, God still would have found a way to make His plan a reality, but Hank’s life would have ended very differently.

The explanation of what happened to Hank, of his dream to become a professional baseball player obliterated by the loss of half his foot in a sawmill accident struck home.

Those who witness divorce know what it means to end the dream. The life Hank saw unfolding before him, dashed in a moment without his ability to stop it. Perhaps he’d been careless at the sawmill. Perhaps the boss had skimped out on safety regulations or pushed workers to do a job faster or at a lower cost than safety allowed. Perhaps it was just a fluke accident where everyone and no one was to blame.

Viewers don’t discover why Hank lost his foot,

Just as many will never learn why a spouse chose to break Marriage vows.

What we do know is the Good that came out of Hank’s situation.

I cannot imagine the physical pain of losing a body part as Hank did. I cannot imagine the mental and emotional agony accompanying the realization that everything he had worked so hard for, believed in so much, or felt so close to his grasp suddenly gone.

I can imagine the dream Hank must have seen for himself before the accident. I can see the years of a young man physically pushing himself to the limits, of training and looking forward to the first day of professional ball, of running onto that field to the cheers of adoring crowds, to the glory of the crack of the bat as it connects with Your Pitch, and of the satisfaction of doing a job he loves.

Without the loss of his foot, what would Hank have become?

Perhaps Hank was a faith-filled Man before the accident and would have led prayer groups as he travelled from city to city, but perhaps he would have faced temptation and seen his faith challenged in ways he was unprepared for, lost faith, and become like every other professional athlete who forgets or never suspected their bodies and talents are gifts from their Creator. Perhaps Hank would have gone on to live a lukewarm life.

No one knows what might have become of Hank without the loss of his foot. What we can be sure of is that Hank’s amputation kept him from achieving his dream but allowed him to open doors to a dream greater than his own. His amputation opened doors he would not have known existed, and those doors opened doors for thousands of others.

What a difference one,

persistent, faith-filled voice makes!

What a difference staying faithful and open

to the Lord’s plans

rather than our own

can make in the world!

In Marriage, a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife as the two flesh become one. Divorce is an amputation, complete with phantom pain and the loss of dreams, plans, goals, and hopes, but it is a loss of our dreams, plans, goals, and hopes.

Divorce is never a loss of the Father’s dreams, plans, goals, or hopes. God hates divorce, but He knew the tragedy that was ahead of you long before you were a thought in your great great great grandparents’ plans. God doesn’t hate you no matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you. He Loves you more than you can ever know (John 3:16). God has great plans for you when you are open to them.

The question is…will you use your amputation open you to the Lord’s plans rather than your own? Will you sink into dejection, bitterness, anger, betrayal, and pain at the loss of your plans, or will you embrace and rejoice in plans that may be unimaginably better than your own down the road?

I know what I hope you will choose, and I know the strength of the Holy Spirit who groans at the loss of your dreams will also support and strengthen you for the Glory of God’s plans.

Even in the face of an amputation, focus on moving forward along a new path rather than looking constantly behind, locked in shadows. Choose plans greater than your own and be amazed at what the Lord can do!

And if you’re looking for family friendly, faith-based movies you can watch any time, check out PureFlix, a Christian alternative to what mainstream media shoots into our homes. Purchasing PureFlix through SingleMomSmiling also pays me a small commission. 🙂

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God Bless…

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2 thoughts on “Woodlawn: The Movie & The Amputation”

  1. There is a scene in the movie “The Natural” where Iris Gaines visits Roy Hobbs in the hospital. Roy is lamenting over his failures and Iris simply says in reply ” I believe we have two lives: the one we learn with, and the one we live with after that.” Her reply evinces what, I think, the divorced do – live our life after we live the one we learn with, albeit stronger and more faith filled than perhaps the previous one was. We all took for granted a long life with spouse and family, and when that is taken away, we enter the “flee or fight” mode. Some may flee, but most of us fight by finding the strength and courage within the only framework that can carry us into our “new” life – Our Lord Jesus Christ. Divorce has the capacity to break you, spiritually, emotionally and with some, even physically, as the actor Robert Walker, Sr. unfortunately found out years ago.

    Falling further into the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts is the only recourse many Catholic divorced have to live their lives post-divorce. The contentment found there is priceless, as is the requisite Peace of Soul, and once attained, the temporal strength and fortitude needed comes more easily – especially as a single parent.

    Woodlawn sounds similar to “Remember the Titans” and “Facing the Giants”…if it’s as good I’m sure I will enjoy it.

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