You donâ€™t recover from an addiction by stopping use. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier not to use.â€”AddictionsandRecovery.org
For the last couple of weeks, media has been abuzz about Ted Williams, the homeless man with the â€śgolden voiceâ€ť who was catapulted into the national spotlight when his resonant baritone was captured on video and showcased on YouTube. In less than a week, Williams went from living behind an abandoned Columbus-Ohio gas station and hawking his vocal gift as a panhandling gimmick (including the reference to God that is standard operating procedure) to doing a voiceover for a Kraft Macaroni & Cheese commercial at a major college bowl game. In addition, heâ€™s been given a job and a house by the Cleveland Cavaliers, reunited with his 90-year-old mother and offered voiceover work and other job opportunities by everyone from NFL Films to Oprah Winfreyâ€™s OWN. Along the way, heâ€™s been getting more media exposure than a Hollywood starlet on the eve of a blockbuster movie premier, including appearances on The Today Show, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, CNN, Good Morning America and both Leno and Letterman. Of course, heâ€™s still a hot topic where it all startedâ€”in social media. In fact, in addition to more videos spreading over the Internet over the past several days, heâ€™s established profiles on both Twitter (@TedWilliamsOhio) and Facebook.
The headlines sound less like news reports than Hollywood hype: â€śThe Man with the Golden Voice! Itâ€™s the Feel Good Story of the Year!â€ť
Well, to be perfectly honest, unless Williams really gets the help he needs as a long-term homeless person and drug addict with multigenerational family dysfunction, Iâ€™m not so sure this story will have a happy ending. Donâ€™t get me wrong: Iâ€™m thrilled when Williams or anyone else gets a great opportunity to overcome difficult circumstances. Particularly as a Christian, I have great faith in the power of redemption and the capacity of human beings to overcome any situation, including a lifetime of misfortune and poor decisions.
My problem is that the act of redemption and overcoming is not a magical stroke of luck or an instant event, but a process, and not an easy one. The danger here is the trivialization of addiction, of which homelessness and criminal behavior are byproducts. The hard truth is this: Ted Williams is going to need far more than job offers, a free house, television appearances and YouTube to make the transition from homelessness and addiction to a productive, responsible life in recovery. Even Williamsâ€™ renewed faith in God and his motherâ€™s reliance on prayer alone are not enough. Indeed, faith without works is dead, as the Bible says. And itâ€™s going to take a lot of work by Williams if the miracle of his recovery is to be truly manifested.