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The Convincer

The Guideposts editor-in-chief shares his thoughts on the baseball player’s news.

Who doesn’t dread being publicly caught at our worst moments? This used to be a remote fear but with the internet, not so much anymore. Facebook is the great digital fishbowl. Which brings me to the subject of Josh Hamilton, the July cover, and some reports (with very unfortunate photos) that recently surfaced online. 

America thought it knew Josh Hamilton and his incredible story—one of the greatest baseball prospects ever whose promise disappears into a black hole of drugs and alcohol before he even makes it to the majors. 

He emerges from the darkness only by throwing himself on the mercy of God…and his grandmother. Last summer, Josh’s inspiring comeback from substance abuse electrified the country. He was a starting outfielder on the American League All-Star team and his performance in the homerun derby prelude to the game (played on the grand stage of the old Yankee Stadium) has become legend. 

It was a spiritual rags-to-riches story that was a natural for GUIDEPOSTS. In fact that’s what we titled the story “The Natural.”  

Life isn’t always that simple, or pretty, especially when it comes to addiction. Last week it was revealed that Josh had had a relapse back in January of this year, a few months before we interviewed him.

The slip was brief but brutal, even if the pictures that exploded on the internet showed him whooping it up shirtless in a Arizona bar with several young women, none of whom he is married to (I won’t go into the details about the whipped cream).

Ever since, I’ve been getting a lot of questions asking how GUIDEPOSTS feels about running Josh’s story. 

One of the risks of publishing articles by celebrities is their potential to embarrass us and, more importantly, our readers. And I think GUIDEPOSTS readers were embarrassed by Josh’s outrageous drunken antics. But so, we’ve learned, was Josh. And not just embarrassed….horribly shamed. 

Deep down most addicts are people-pleasers and they hate to disappoint. A crushing sense of shame is virtually hard-wired into the addict’s diseased psyche; trust me, an addict is more embarrassed and ashamed of himself than we can ever be. 

Josh had to work through all that. He had to seek forgiveness—from God, from the people he hurt (especially his wife, his parents, his granny, his teammates and Texas Rangers fans) and from himself. 

A radio interviewer asked me the other day if we would have published Josh’s story if we knew about his slip (we didn’t know). That’s a tough one. GUIDEPOSTS readers and users are upright people who generally don’t end up half-naked in bars with whipped cream all over them. They are also incredibly forgiving and compassionate and humane. People of faith often get a lot of grief for being judgmental. Not so the GUIDEPOSTS audience. From my experience, they judge not.

In fact, most of them understand that addiction is a disease of relapse. Rarely is an alcoholic or addict “struck sober,” as they say in AA. Relapses are the battles you lose in the bigger war for sobriety, and I’ve known few people in recovery who haven’t had to deal with them. It’s just that most relapses don’t end up smeared across the world wide web. 

A friend in recovery who relapsed repeatedly in early sobriety told me that each slip taught him to be more reliant on God. “I would never have gotten any quality long-term sobriety without those slips. Each was a spiritual lesson that taught me how powerful a disease addiction is, more powerful than I could face alone. Like most addicts, though, I needed a lot of convincing.” In 12-step programs they call the final binge “the convincer.” Let’s pray Josh is convinced.   

Watch an interview of Josh explaining that night:

P.S. Did you know that GUIDEPOSTS sponsors a great recovery web site? Go to Sober24.com and read recovering alcoholic Ames S.’s blog In My Shoes.

Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of GUIDEPOSTS Publications.

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