When you get into stressful situations, you probably start to get a little irritated. You can get angry. You might even snap! I haven’t always handled stress well. I’ve made huge mistakes on the field.
I think how we handle failure and conflict is part of being human. In my career, there’s been a lot of failing and a lot of succeeding. And one reason I’ve succeeded lately is because I failed so badly early on. Now that I’ve gotten older, I know how to handle stress a little bit better.
But it’s always a challenge. This year alone, I got mad during a game in Toronto. When I came out of the game I kicked some stuff, I punched a water cooler, and I kicked some chairs in the clubhouse. In other words, I did not handle it well at all! I had to talk to some of my teammates, and I had to sit down with my manager. I had to tell them I was sorry, and that I knew I should have handled it better. We talked it out after the fact, and everything worked out.
To humble yourself before athletes as an athlete who tries to carry himself, not in a cocky way, but in a confident way (because you have to be confident in this game), to humble yourself and say, “I was weak and that’s the situation and I’m sorry,” is a real challenge. A lot of guys can’t do that. But I think that as a Christian man, as a Godly man, that’s what I have to do.
You have to know that if you make a mistake, your first question should be, “How should I be like Jesus in this scenario? How can I share in the image of God?” Well, if I’ve made a mistake, I have to apologize and ask for forgiveness from the people I’ve affected.
I’ve learned to do that, and to do it well. I think it has to do with my constant awareness of being an image-bearer of God, and knowing that in my flesh, as a human being, I can fail. That’s part of being human. So part of being a strong Christian man or woman is to recognize that you are human, that you are going to make mistakes and that you have to apologize for them.
And then you still have to forgive your own self! That’s a big challenge!
I think we’re afraid to forgive ourselves. The fear goes something like this: If I forgive myself for something I did, and I forget about it and let it go, then I’ll forget how bad it was and I’ll do it again. We have a hard time forgiving ourselves because we think that if we can live in the guilt, we won’t repeat our mistakes. It’s our way of saying, “I hope I won’t do it again, because I can still feel the sting.”
But this is the hard way to do things. When you know you’ve been forgiven, you can move on. You don’t need the memory of the sting to keep yourself from making more mistakes. You’ve humbled yourself and asked for forgiveness. By handling it this way, directly and with humility, you’ve become a better person. And you’ll see that the people around you forget about it. As everyone else forgets, you’ll find you won’t have to hold onto that sting. You can let it go. You’ve learned. You’ve become a much better person, and that’s a lot easier than living in guilt!
Realize that you have no condemnation now, because of what Jesus did on the cross. You’ve been forgiven by the King of Kings. And if He can forgive you, then you should be able to forgive yourself.