I Almost Missed Out

This is my youngest daughter Sophia.

I took this picture last weekend while we were spending intentional time together on our first father-daughter retreat to Colorado.

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We sat around the fireplace as I washed her feet, gently applied moisturizer, and filed and painted her toenails. Although a little awkward at first, taking this posture with her opened a door to a deep conversation about where life had brought us, the character of her heart, the vision I had for her future, and the blessings I intended to give her.

I wanted to share this moment and the priceless, beautiful smile on her face because I almost missed the chance to experience this moment, and many more.

You see in 2011 I committed suicide…or so I thought.

I found myself facing losing custody of my children, my fourth failing marriage, job loss and more. My unsuccessful attempts to navigate the insurmountable trauma lead to alcohol abuse that spiraled into a deep depression.

On March 9th I shot myself at point blank range with a 9mm handgun.

A 9mm bullet leaves the gun at over 1000 feet per second and is designed for penetration and destruction of everything in its path.

I woke a week later in the hospital & met the trauma surgeon who saved my life. He shared with me what he says he never says.

“Somebody was watching out for you”, as he pointed to the ceiling.

Why am I sharing all of this?

For many reasons but I’ve landed on some really big ones that I hope will speak truth, hope, and maybe save a life or two in the process.

After 40 years of facing life on my own, hiding my mistakes, covering my wounds and all of the scars I accumulated along the way, I began to believe the toxic lies of this world.

Men, hear me on this!

You’ll try your hardest to be a perfect son to your parents, but you’ll make mistakes.

You’ll try your hardest to be a perfect employee at work, but you’ll mess up.

You’ll try your hardest to be a perfect husband to your wife, but you’ll fall short.

You’ll try your hardest to be a perfect father to your children, but you’ll screw that up too.

You may wake up one day and the weight of your mistakes begins to whisper toxic lies to you.

You may hear psssst…you’re an ungrateful son; you’re a screw up at work; you’re a terrible husband; you’re a failure at fathering!

ALL LIES!

Your value in this life and in every single relationship is entirely within you and the indisputable truth is that your actions, good or bad, do not define you and cannot change your value and who you are created to be.

Hold On Pain Ends.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death of those between 10 and 34 years of age & in 2017 47,000 beautiful souls died in 1.4 million suicide attempts.

Men, don’t believe the toxic lies of this world like I did.

I’m alive today and experiencing so many beautiful and heartfelt moments with Sophia and her brother Anthony by sheer miracle.

We do life better together.

If you’re struggling, reach out.

Don’t miss out on the beautiful moments waiting for you in this life.

Despite what you’ve come to believe about facing your own inner pain and shortcomings, sometimes you can’t just “get over it” or “suck it up” because life is hard.

Truth: when life seems hardest, take heart, it always gets better.

As hard as it was, I found the messages in my mess and today I work diligently in the church to find & help those facing what they describe as hopeless situations.

I travel and write to share these messages to others in the effort to open eyes to the fact that I’m no different than other men that are ready to quit.

I almost missed out on the pedicure around the fireplace and the immeasurable joy in this little girl’s beautiful smile that warms my heart.

My still beating heart.

If your heart is still beating but it’s hard to see why; if you know someone who is feeling this way; if this resonated with you in any way, let’s begin to become the change we want to see in this world.

You were created on purpose, with purpose, for purpose.

When you find your “why” there’s no “how” that will stop you!

You are known; needed; loved.

 

Don Mann, Inspirational Speaker

(417)766-4587
don.mann70@outlook.com

https://www.donmannlife.wordpress.com

https://www.7billionones.org/don

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HOPE – HOLD ON PAIN ENDS

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Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

Great Pain, Greater Hope in God

Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Job 13:15 NIV

WAKE UP WITH HOPE

Today, you’ll wake up with an initial thought that sparks a little hope, rub the sleep from your eyes with the hope that you got enough rest, shower with the hope that there’s enough hot water, dress with the hope that your fashion sense isn’t too outdated and walk into the day with the hope to fully experience the blessings and the hope to hear the messages in the messes.

Without hope, some won’t get that chance.

I received sad news today that a vibrant, 24-year-old, beautiful & ambitious young lady’s life ended tragically. This world and all she was facing had become too much to bear. She lost all hope.

It’s said we can live up to 40 days without food, survive as long as 10 days without water, even endure about 4 minutes without oxygen. But we can’t live even 4 seconds without HOPE.

JOB’S FAITH AND HOPE

It is beyond astounding, maybe even counter-cultural that in the midst of his worst pain and struggles, Job boldly declares his faith in God’s goodness.

Our comprehension or ability to fully wrap our heads around the underlying meaning of tragedy may never come, but is it necessary?  Maybe not, with the choice to focus on some key truths found in scripture.

Afflictions of this world are momentary; they are light in comparison to eternity; every bit of pain and misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory.  Do not lose heart knowing that pain and suffering experienced here, leads to an eternal weight of glory.

Seek the place in your soul that allows for the endurance of the most difficult seasons life will bring. Yet through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of his sacrifice, you’ll trust and hope in God through faith, where your heart is convinced that He is right, He is just, and He is good.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father we come to you with thankful hearts and grateful spirits. Lord, I pray that you fill me with the desire to love you through the pain of this world. Give me new eyes to never lose sight of your hope. Jesus, draw me closer to you and help me to remember that it was after being whipped and beaten, bloody and bruised, bearing all of my sins and nailed on the cross, that it was at that moment that you loved me most. Amen.”

Love Moves First: Identify Hurt to Ignite Healing

      I arrived at work on a melancholy Monday morning on a cloudy, chilly fall day.  Only a few days at my new job in a nursing home and I was eager to make friends and begin to build that relational foundation I think we all seek in our work environment.  I remember meeting many new people, all very friendly and very excited to see new blood, ready help them give to those who could never give anything in return other than a smile or sincere “thank you” from their hearts.  Many that were approaching their last beat. The brevity of life often perplexes me and causes my mind to wander and my eyes to tear.

     Oh, I should mention, that melancholy Monday only lasted half of the day and I’m so very thankful it did and more thankful for the reason that melancholy Monday became a little brighter.

     As we rushed the nursing home residents into the dining room for lunch, I caught a glimpse and a tiny smile from a co-worker I had yet to chat with only because she was so enthralled and involved in how she intentionally focused her time to care for those that needed it most.  I would like to say that I really enjoyed and remained in the comfort of her smile, as beautiful of a smile as it was, but another facial characteristic demanded my stare. As hard as I tried, I could not help but cringe at the sign of bruises on her face and neck.

     I jumped to conclusions and I judged immediately.  In my mind and from my experience, those bruises were all too familiar.  I knew in my heart this young woman, my new co-worker was in an abusive relationship and my heart broke as I choked back tears.

     I bring out the fact that I judged her for these reasons that I have since learned after growing through our short yet tumultuous friendship.

     I judged her…

    …when I cringed at the sight of her bruised face and neck, I didn’t communicate the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus, rather the assumption of an arrogant person not living in an abusive relationship.

     …when I cringed at the sight of her bruised face and neck, I unconsciously disregarded her story and reasons she gave for her bruises.  Her reasons in her shame sought the reasons we seek in truth. To be accepted as we are, where we are, in love and in the absence of ANY judgment.

Shame and Judgement are barriers to healing.

     As we sat, helping the residents of the nursing home enjoy their lunch, we embarked on a friendship that neither one of us were prepared for.  Of that I’m confident.

     A beautiful young lady.  A newlywed.  A vibrant life so eager to love others.  It wouldn’t be long before I found out why she was overflowing with love and care.  I would very soon, at the fault of my own caring nature, be thrust into the whirlwind of a life of a young lady spiraling out of control in an abusive marriage that sadly would never see healing or restoration and only more trauma and abuse before it came to a tragic end.

     We became instant friends.  She was hurting and seeking the joy and peace or even just a glimpse of a little happiness she had remembered in her days that she attended church with her family and the love they shared.  She had faith, and I never fully understood the analogy of “faith the size of a mustard seed” until I would hear her proclaim small promises she recalled from scripture while enduring the severe abuse of her husband who promised to love her, cherish her, protect her and care for her until death do them part.

     She would share stories of how her husband used to be so caring and show her levels of love that she often couldn’t describe.  When she did try to describe how much he loved her, she could only look at me, tilting her head, and begin to cry. She cried because a man she loved, who ONCE loved her unconditionally changed.  He experienced an unspeakable family tragedy that he never dealt with and out of respect for him, I won’t attempt to guess what his path through that was. I can only share what I witnessed resulting in her story, or at least the chapters that I was blessed to walk through with her.

     She loved deeper because she sought for so long, the love of a father who was struggling with a life of alcoholism of 19 years plus.

     She loved at levels I cannot comprehend because a daughter wants so desperately to be loved by her father.  I can’t help but recognize the correlation of a daughter’s relationship with her earthly father and her relationship with her Heavenly Father.  It’s so very hard to know, lean into, and begin to believe in Heavenly love in the absence of a healthy Earthly love that begins in a father and lands upon the promises of a Savior.

     Out of respect for her and her late husband, I leave out many of the ugly details that I witnessed.  I will share that those facial bruises I first saw when we met were not the last that I witnessed. I will share that the one time I met her abusive husband, although it almost resulted in a violent confrontation, I could see the hurt in his eyes from the trauma he had yet to deal with in his life.  Lastly, I will share that because he lived trapped in his hurt, he continued to hurt, her and others. Those actions ultimately led to a deadly confrontation. In the heat of a confrontation to pursue her, one of her friends who had responded to one of her many calls of rescue, shot and killed her husband in self-defense.

     His intrinsic nature to love his wife was darkened by his worldly interpretation of a traumatic event in his life that the enemy used to ensnare him into a mindset of anger, hate, and loss of truth in the promises of our Creator.  He lost sight of who God designed him to be in the presence of who the enemy convinced him he was. This manifested into a man of hate, anger, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and much more toxic behavior that sadly lead to his death.  

Why do I share this story?

     I share this experience with a hopeful heart.  The desire to help a new, dear friend share with her sister, the truth and hope that I discovered while not just going through it, but while growing through it.

     The roots of toxic behavior run deep.  Those roots are often found in unresolved or hidden traumatic events within the life of the one who resorts to verbal abuse that escalates to physical abuse that may escalate to deadly abuse of themselves or others.  When we face this type of trauma and we don’t have the tools to deal with it in a healthy manner, we will find ways to deal with in order to survive, often with unhealthy results.

 

Toxic Lie: “You or your past are the reason you are receiving the abusive treatment you are getting and you deserve the punishment for who you are and the decisions you have made in life.”

Truth: Hurt people hurt people.  They way they treat you is a direct result of how they have been treated or an action they have resorted to so they can hide and act out the deep hurt that they have yet to deal with.  

 

Toxic Lie:  “Tomorrow will be better.”

Truth:  Tomorrow Never Comes!

 

Toxic Lie:  “One day, he will be better and stop hurting me; treating me bad; abusing me; abusing himself & others.”

Truth:  Healing doesn’t happen accidentally.  Healing takes intention. Intentionally recognizing the trauma and intentionally taking steps to heal, to change and love in a healthy way.

 

Toxic Lie: “I can love them enough to heal them.”

Truth:  Ladies, I know you have some incredible abilities to love on levels and in depths that we men will never reach or understand, however…  Pay close attention here:

YOU CANNOT LOVE A MAN INTO WHO GOD DESIGNED HIM TO BE!

ONLY GOD CAN DO THAT!

WE ALL NEED A SAVIOR!  (ESPECIALLY US MEN)

The most loving thing you can do for someone hurting out of hurt is to give them the space to find and face their hurt in order to heal and step onto a path to stop hurting you and others.

 

Finally…

 

Toxic Lie: “He treats me this way because this is the best I deserve because of my poor choices in life.  This is just the way it is.”

Truth:  The sum of your actions can never add or take away from the intrinsic and priceless value assigned to you at your design, in your mother’s womb, by our Creator.

Your worth, value, meaning, and purpose can never be defined by the words of another, no matter who they are who how much they claim to love you because your value is provided by God.  Your purpose is found in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Seek Him above all others and I place a promise upon his promise that there, you will find a love that will never leave you, never let you down, never disappoint.

Jeremiah 29:13

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”

 

How?

 

     The answer is closer than you think.  Lean on your family, friends, loved ones or simply call out to Jesus.  Above all, please hear the truth in every story that I share…

 

You ARE Known.

 

You ARE Needed.

 

You ARE Loved.

 

Blessings,

 

Don

 

Known. Needed. Loved.

You’re Right Where You’re Supposed to Be.

I’m willing to bet that you have a story.

I’m willing to bet that if you are reading this, your story is not over.

No matter where you are in life, through some of the stories that I share, you may begin to see the truth, the hope and feel at peace that you’re right where you’re supposed to be in your story.

As in my story, I’m sure your story has many chapters.  Maybe some incredible chapters full of great adventure and joy.  Maybe some tragic chapters containing loss, hopelessness, unspeakable darkness, or all loss of hope.

The pages in my story thus far have provided many varying ingredients and it’s those ingredients that fill the pages of my chapters in my story that can hopefully provide inspiration, maybe even shed some light into some very dark places that you may have allowed to go hidden for too long.

I’ve titled my story, “Known.  Needed.  Loved.” for some simple reasons.  Reasons that were so difficult to search out and find.  Reasons that I really didn’t want to uncover or bring into the light.  Because, let’s face it, once in the light everyone would see them.  I would see them.  Then I would have to deal with them.

I found myself scared and facing a giant that had hidden itself in the deep dark places inside of me.  It was at my moment of impossibility that I found courage to illuminate the darkness in fear with the foundational truth that right in the middle of me, in those hidden places, was where I would find, not more darkness, but a hidden light and truth that brought me full-circle.

Even during those trials and challenges in my life, I was right where I was supposed to be.  You will see that sometimes, our greatest blessings lie on the other side of our most difficult trials.

If only one person finds a tiny spark of inspiration to continue writing each page in each chapter of their life and finish their story, I will know I’m closer to hearing, “Well done my good and faithful child.  Welcome home.”

Don