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Speaking of Recovery

Speaking of Recovery

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Category: Leading in Hope
Lots of people have trouble understanding why Josh Hamilton called a press conference several weeks ago on a Friday, February 3. They wondered why he told the story he told and left himself so wide open to criticism. But, there is a perfectly good explanation — that some still can't get even after hearing it. And do I ever respect him for his integrity.

Hamilton is a professional baseball player — an outfielder for the Texas Rangers. He is a very good baseball player. He was named the most valuable player in the American League for 2010. He has been a major part of his team's success in winning consecutive American League pennants in 2010 and 2011.

However, that Friday news conference wasn't really about baseball. It was about Hamilton's relapse with alcohol. You see, the 30-year-old star athlete has battled drug addiction for several years. While in the Tampa Bay organization, he was suspended for more than three years for his use of alcohol and drugs. He missed the entire 2004 and 2005 baseball seasons — but came back with a vengeance to prove himself both as a star athlete and as a decent human being. "My life in general is based on making the right choices. Everything as far as my recovery, as far as my baseball goes, it's all based around my relationship with the Lord," Hamilton said in Saturday's news conference. "And I look at it like that, you all know how hard I play on the field and I give it everything I absolutely have. When I don't do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment."

It turns out that he had left himself open the prior Monday night. After some tensions with a family member that day, he had three or four drinks at a restaurant. After calling a teammate to take him to the place he was staying, he went back and had several more drinks.

There had been no bar brawl. No auto accident. No pedestrian run over and killed by a drunken ballplayer. So why go public with an alcohol relapse?

People in recovery — from drugs, alcohol, adultery, lying, gambling, or a thousand other things that tend to enslave us — know that the worst thing that can happen is to embrace the old pattern of behavior and not get caught. So common practice for someone who really means to recover — to get clean and to really change — is to tell some trusted friends or to make a fully public acknowledgment of the problem. That person knows he has to offer an apology and to do what is within his power to make amends for a failure.

Still don't get it? Then you may be in danger of trying to keep hidden some of the harm done to you or that you have done to others — harm that triggers actions by you that you can't quite figure out. It can be an explosive temper, compulsive lying, or serial adulteries. It can even be what some of us call neurotic religiosity. Secrets that play out in destructive acts are dangerous. Those secrets destroy — marriages, friendships, careers, and lives.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9 NIV).

The first step toward healing is always the confession of brokenness. Thus Hamilton's confession. And thus the prayers of so many of us who wish him well.

About the Author

Rubel Shelly
Rubel Shelly preached for the Woodmont Hills Church in Nashville for thirty years. He is the author of more than 20 books. He has accepted the position of President of Rochester College. For more details, click here or email Rubel.

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