Look in the Mirror
by Darryl Strawberry, with A.J. Gregory and Kristi Overton Johnson
I got dressed one morning and stared long into the mirror. I had been married to Tracy for one year and was ready to call it quits. I told God, “My wife is crazy, and this relationship is nuts! I can’t take it anymore.” I’d said the same thing about my previous marriages.
But then, in my heart, God clearly said, “No, Darryl. Your wife isn’t the problem, nor is your marriage. You are.” His words hit hard. That day in front of the mirror, I suddenly understood that I needed to stop playing the blame game and deal with my insecurities, scars, and hang-ups.
For too long, I’d pointed my finger at Tracy and called out her failures, flaws, and character defects. I’d tried to fix her when I was the one who needed to be fixed. I needed to be purged of sins, addictions, bad habits, behaviors, and attitudes.
My garbage wasn’t Tracy’s garbage; it was mine. And until I was willing to dig through the trash of my heart with God and let Him do His work, every relationship I touched would end in destruction. Why? Because I was in them!
I have a trail of broken relationships to prove it.
I came into the marriage with many deep-rooted wounds that needed healing. As you read in my story on page _, I was a very injured man. But that day, in front of the mirror, God showed me that I could find a way to wholeness through self-reflection.
His words weren’t meant to hurt or bring shame. They were to bring about a conviction of the heart that would lead to change. God wanted a better life for me, His child.
I embarked on a journey of self-reflection with Him that day. I prayed persistently, “I need you, God. Clean me. Purify me. Tear me down.” God was faithful to jump into my mess and wade through the stench of my heart and mind with me.
With time, He revealed that the problems in my relationship originated in my core issues of distrust, unforgiveness, and fear. My trust issues came from previous relationships and experiences with people who’d only wanted to know me for what I could offer them. I was afraid to trust anyone—even Tracy, a woman of integrity who I knew loved me and the Lord. But I didn’t feel I could trust Him, either. Who gives unconditional love?
My lack of trust surfaced in explosive fights with my wife. I was suspicious of everything she did. I called her integrity into question and made false accusations about where she had been, who she’d been with, and how she’d spent our money.
Tracy wasn’t the problem, though, or the source of my insecurities. The sins of others and my own were to blame. I was the one fooling around and not keeping my word, not her.
Unforgiveness was a big issue too. I hadn’t forgiven my father for the abuse he’d inflicted on me as a child. Nor had I forgiven my ex-wives or anyone else who had hurt me in the past. I held those people hostage in my heart, but I was the only one I was hurting.
Unforgiveness prevented me from finding true freedom. Bitterness flooded my heart daily, and it showed in how I treated Tracy. When we disagreed, I’d think, “Well, I don’t need you. I can do everything by myself.” I would reject her emotionally and sexually. I didn’t want her to get deep enough into my soul to touch the real me.
Then, there was the fear factor. I was always fearful of judgment. When you’re a celebrity, you’re an open target. It’s probably the most challenging aspect of star life. Everyone’s got an opinion (usually not a good one), and they can’t wait to share it. I was tired of reading negative things about me in the headlines, some of which weren’t true. The thing that hurt the most was hearing how I was a waste.
I was so afraid of public perception that when I started dating Tracy and at the beginning of our marriage, I stopped going out. I became depressed and hid in the house. From my bed, I’d ask Tracy, “Why won’t God just let me die already?”
Her response still rings loudly, “Oh, Darryl, you’re never going to get off that easy. People like us just aren’t that lucky. God has a plan for your life and for mine, only we have to walk through it to get it.”
My distrust, fear, and unforgiveness took me to low places and kept me there. But that all began to change the day I humbled myself, dug deep into the Word of God, and surrendered to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Great Physician performed spiritual surgery on my heart and mind, changing me from the inside out. He renewed my mind and made me into the man He’d created me to be (Romans 12:2). That’s when I became a real man.
My wholeness, though, wasn’t delivered in an instant. It took time. I hadn’t gotten myself into all my messes overnight, so it would take time to get out of them. I had to give myself grace. Transformation is never a one-time prayer event; it is a process that must be entered into with God.
Do you have a history of failed relationships too? If so, it’s time to look in the mirror, quit playing the blame game, and get real. It’s time to be willing to listen to God’s perspective on the matter of you.
Your relationships will only change when you’re willing to say, “Search me, God. Show me the real issue of my heart. I refuse to blame others any longer. I know ignoring the issues of my heart will only lead to destruction. Give me Your perspective and help me become the spouse, parent, sibling, and friend You desire me to be.”
Want a better we? Become a better me. Outward change only comes when you’re willing to do the inside work.
Darryl Strawberry dazzled many with his baseball career. This legend is one of the most feared home-run hitters in baseball history. Today, though, Darryl’s purpose and passion is serving the Lord by speaking a message of hope and helping others transform their lives through the power of the gospel. He has several published works including Finding Your Way, Turning Your Season Around, and The Imperfect Marriage, coauthored with his wife, Tracy. For more information, visit findingyourway.com.