Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Jim Joyce and Why I'm in Celebrate Recovery
This past summer one of the more memorable professional baseball episodes happened the night the Detroit Tigers played the Cleveland Indians. Armando Galarraga was pitching a perfect game for the Tigers, a rare feat in major league baseball.
Veteran umpire Jim Joyce was at first base. In the ninth inning on what should have been the final out and therefore a perfect game for Galarraga, Joyce missed the call and said the runner was safe. I blogged about it here and commented about what a tremendous picture it became of confession, accepting responsibility, forgiveness and reconciliation. Joyce publicly confessed his error and asked Galarraga to forgive him; Galarraga forgave Joyce; the next night the two teams played again and Joyce was plate umpire and walked into Tiger’s stadium and the crowd graciously cheered him.
Seven months later ESPN has written a story on how the controversy has continued to play out for Jim Joyce. He and family members have received hate mail and death threats. Joyce admits that he thinks about the missed call every day. Though some support and encouragement has continued to come his way from baseball fans, MLB management, and other professional officials of various sports, Joyce has struggled to forgive himself and put it behind him. Though a veteran umpire and well respected in professional baseball, Joyce believes that all of that has been wiped away by one bad call and that he will be remembered and defined by that bad call the rest of his life.
Perhaps you’re like me and you take your work and your life seriously. I am a perfectionist to a fault and when I make an error in my professional or personal life I often struggle to let it go. I tend to replay the scene over again in my mind and relive the anguish of the mistake.
When I read the ESPN story tears started forming in my eyes as I thoroughly identified with Jim Joyce. My failings and sins have never been as public as Joyce’s since millions have no doubt viewed the television and print and Internet coverage. Still, I erred in the way I treated my wife a few weeks ago and though she was quick to forgive me I’m still struggling to let it go.
Regret, shame, embarrassment and sadness are powerful emotions. I believe the biblical promise that when I confess my sin Jesus is faithful to forgive me and cleanse me (1 John 1:9). I pray that prayer every time I err and sin. In my head I sometimes acknowledge my forgiveness while in my heart I harbor harsh feelings toward self.
Sound sick? It is. That’s why I participate every week in the Celebrate Recovery program at my church. Perfectionism messes with me just as much as drinking or drugs or other habits mess with other people. By consistently practicing the 12 steps that are based upon scriptures I’m being set free from my craziness.
I pray that Jim Joyce likewise finds deliverance from his anguish in relationship with Christ and the practice of biblical truths.