Once again, the path was not clear and I couldn’t see where he was leading me. But despite my questions, I chose to follow him.
Not by sight.
It was the theme of my life.
SCOTT MACINTYRE, By Faith, Not by Sight
So after Philip Philips won Season 11 this May (yea!), I reached back into Season 8 to be touched by Top 10 finalist Scott MacIntyre.
You may remember him as “the blind guy.”
While his visual impairment was unarguably one factor that distinguished him from the crowd that year, it was only one.
Other factors included his heart for people, his desire to inspire with his music, and his courage to dream.
Many blind people wouldn’t have felt comfortable moving around on a stage without their cane for protection.
But Mom and Dad had helped develop my spatial awareness from a very early age by letting me run on the beach, learn to ride a bike, ski with a sighted guide, and jump off the bridge at Trinity Alps.
I wasn’t afraid of those things anymore, and neither was I afraid of falling off the stage.
. . . Some of them have told me that while watching Idol, they didn’t realize I was blind until someone else pointed it out.
Those are nice compliments, but the best ones come from fans with disabilities who tell me that my presence on Idol inspired them to make bold moves in their own lives.
If my ambition encouraged others to pursue their dreams, then the extra effort was definitely worth it.
Now that I’ve finished his book By Faith, Not by Sight, I see undergirding all those factors was his faith in God to be used as a blessing.
Scott grew up in a spiritual home, a place where God was honored and family was valued.
He was born almost totally blind—he does have two degrees of vision (imagine a pinpoint of light)—and born with an incredible gift of music. His parents nurtured his talent to be used for the glory of God.
Even though I was now older, my parents continued to pray for me before each performance, and I often joined in. Although the content of their prayers varied depending on the situation, their most heartfelt request remained the same.
“Please let Scott be a blessing to those who hear his music.”
That petition has always stayed with me. Even now, before a performance, I pray, Let my music be a blessing to those who hear me play.
And his parents encouraged him to overcome obstacles regardless of his disability, to live as normal a life as possible.
It worked. And then some. Despite blindness, he graduated from Arizona State University at age 19, and moved to London to earn a master’s degree on a Marshall Scholarship, all the while entertaining others with his music.
People who live the life they dream about are people who aren’t afraid to take chances, regardless of what obstacles stand in their way.
Although I still made mistakes and had moments of confusion, living on my own in London gave me proof of what I’d always believed.
With enough support and preparation, and with God’s blessing, I was capable of doing anything I dreamed.
His book details his journey through blindness, through kidney failure, and through American Idol. Although trials abounded in each stage—and Scott is honest about his struggles—gratitude for his blessings prevailed.
The book is well-written and has a great mix of events from Scott’s life, including his behind-the-scene views of American Idol.
Here’s how it felt to be eliminated:
I had already overcome so much in my life that being eliminated shouldn’t have hurt that much.
But it did.
And yet, even then in the midst of the pain, I knew that it was just one more struggle I would overcome. God had already saved me from so much and blessed me with so much more.
In my darkest moments, I had realized that with every obstacle comes an opportunity to trust him. Getting eliminated wasn’t the end. Although I couldn’t see where I was going, I knew God was leading me and I was willing to follow.
My reality has always been driven by faith and not by sight. This wouldn’t be any different.
Scott’s faith inspires. He leaves no doubt that God has helped him achieve not just musical success, but spiritual satisfaction.
Reading his book encouraged me in my own walk with Jesus. That’s the ultimate gift from any author.
My family and my closest friends had come to see my blindness like I did—as a blessing.
Blindness had given me an incredible gift—to see the world in ways that other people who were distracted by sight didn’t.
Though I didn’t have my eyesight, I’d developed insight and I’d learned how to trust people at a very deep level. But over the years, the biggest blessing of my blindness seemed to be that it inspired other people.
* * *
What helps you maintain perspective?
Vision has always been the sense I’ve said I couldn’t live without. But with God’s grace, maybe it wouldn’t be the end of the world after all.
Thanks for perspective, Scott.