On Sept. 8, 1998, Mark McGwire, powered by his 20-inch biceps, hit a pitch over the left field wall for his record-breaking 62nd home run, which set off huge celebrations at Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Some were suspicious that McGwire gained his strength through the illegal use of steroids. In March 2005, before a congressional committee investigating steroid use in baseball, he testified repeatedly, "I'm not here to talk about the past."
After the hearing, McGwire disappeared from public view, carrying the shame, guilt and burden of his ill-gotten superpower. His secret was well-kept. Even his parents, wife, son and close friends did not know. But his sin, like the Bible describes in Psalm 51:3, was ever before him.
The slugger finally confessed just days ago, on Jan. 11. Tears flowed and his voice quivered as he apologized to millions of fans he had deceived. His parents accepted his confession and told him, "We're very proud of you. We believe it's for the better."
No matter how his confession is received by the fans, the public and the press, one thing is sure: McGwire can come out of hiding and begin to restore his self-hood.
St. Augustine wrote "The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works." Confession cleanses the soul and is the first step to regaining self-respect.
Be mindful, though, that sharks circle the waters looking for the blood of the fallen. Confession can't change the past or undo the damage. It might do irreparable harm to a relationship.
Find a confidant to receive the confession, to have forgiveness pronounced and to ensure a supportive accountability partner to help prevent a recurrence of the transgression. Confess to God and obtain divine forgiveness and inner peace that he grants (1 John 1:9).
Confession is certainly better than hiding in the closet with the dirty characters of guilt, shame and denial, because the tears of confession wash the heart clean.
The Rev. Dan White is the pastor of North Columbia Church in Appling.