There is a lot of pressure in the big leagues.
I enjoy pressure. I enjoy situations, late in the game, when everything is on the line, and it's up to me. That's how we grow as people. If we are never in situations that challenge us, we never get stretched beyond what were already capable of.
There's other pressure as well, and it's equally challenging. You never realize, as you dream about making it to the big leagues, that there is a tough side, a dark side, to all the glitter. For me, that's been the most surprising thing about being in the big leagues that there is a dark side to all this.
There's the pressure of dealing with the media, as they go about doing their jobs. They have to have a story even if there isn't one. That's how they make their living. And they are critical to the overall success of baseball. But, the whole thing can get kind of ugly. You have to be honest, and as forthright as possible, all the while knowing that if you don't want something repeated, you shouldn't be saying it.
There's the pressure of dealing with the lifestyle baseball affords the attention, the temptations, all the things that are available. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in things that can bring you down.
There's the pressure of being a father, a family man, raising children. I mentioned my faith in an interview once, and a couple weeks later, received a letter from a person who was thankful for what I said, and told me I was a role model for her children. We all need the pressure of being good role models, of setting a good example. I would hope other people would set a good example for my children as well.
But sometimes, the pressure is overwhelming. That's when I rely on God. I've learned that every time I'm done, when I seem to have no one to turn to, God is always there. I pick up the Bible and find direction and focus, and hope, when I thought there was none, or at least when I had lost sight of it.
There is a Bible passage that says it all for me I can do all things in Christ who is my strength. Those are more than just words, more than just some little magical formula, more than some mantra I repeat. It's the truth. I have learned to draw on God's strength when I feel there is no hope, when I feel I've been beaten, when I have let myself and others down.
There is no one who is perfect, and there are times we fall short of what is the best. It is then I find myself relying on God. I rely on Him not just to make me a better ball player, but far more than that, I rely on Him to let me know I'm OK, especially when I am feeling like I am not.
Interesting, isn't it? There is so much pressure in life, but the one thing that is ultimate is already taken care of. Imagine if we had to somehow prove our worth to God. Imagine if His love was somehow dependent on whether we earned it or not. That would be more pressure than any of us could bear.