“Nothing great happens when you hold back.” This is the “tag line” for the movie Home Run about a young baseball player, Cory Brand, who finds himself suspended from his career because of a constant struggle with anger, shame, and guilt being covered up by the debilitating effects of alcoholism. The story, of course, dates back long before the current time, as a child of an abusive father who never showed the acceptance and love that Cory needed.
Anyone that has experienced the bondage of addiction, regardless of what it is to, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex, food, or anything else, knows the power that all of those “externals” can have over a life. It isn’t until Cory begins to realize that he is powerless to the alcohol and carries this heavy pain, that he can begin to experience the freedom that he truly desired, not the momentary, fleeting experience that alcohol had given him. He has to come to the realization that nothing is going to fill the void that had been left from childhood until he can begin to experience and feel the love of God and others.
As he spends time away from his life’s dream of baseball, coaching his own son’s team, he reminds them over and over to confront their fear at the plate and not to hold back. The only way that they will become great is to not hold back. Of course, it would take time before he can begin to see that the same was true for him, not only at the plate, but in life as well. Too much time was spent on being ashamed and living in fear, hiding from what was really holding him back. All of life’s decisions were made in that bondage. Alcohol was simply the external of something much deeper, and until he surrenders to it and realizes he doesn’t have the power to change it himself, conversion begins to happen, slowly but surely.
Living with such shame in one’s life can only lead to further death and powerlessness. Yet, if you haven’t been there yourself, it is so often hard for others to understand. We end up spending so much time standing at the plate in fear, hearing only the voices that hold us back from living, as it was for Cory, and never experiencing the greatness we want and desire. His brother calls him out for constantly running away from it all, leading to further loneliness and isolation and never maturing beyond those childhood nightmares, but it is only in surrendering that he can finally live the life God has called and created him to be.
Home Run is just that, a home run; but it is also a challenge for all who suffer in this way, to step into the plate, into the pain, hurt and shame, and let God lead, not only into the pain but into the greatness it leads to as well.