This is my youngest daughter Sophia. I took this picture while we were spending intentional time together on our first father-daughter retreat to Colorado in 2019.
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. A new and deeper relationship was taking root.
I wanted to share this moment and the priceless, beautiful smile on her face because I almost missed the chance to experience it. You see in 2011 I committed suicide...or so I thought.
I found myself in a losing child custody battle, stuck in my fourth failing marriage, absent of a career or direction. My unsuccessful attempts to navigate the insurmountable trauma lead to alcohol abuse that spiraled into a deep depression.
On March 9th I shot myself in the stomach at point blank range with a 9 mm handgun. A 9 mm bullet leaves the gun at over 1,000 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 something he told me he never has before. “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 pray will speak truth and maybe plant a seed of hope in the heart of someone reading this. After 40 years of facing life on my own, hiding my mistakes, covering the scars of my poor choices, I began to believe the toxic lies of this world. The false narratives and limiting beliefs that the toughest years of our lives convict us are truth.
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 will try to define you under their weight. You may hear psssst...you’re an ungrateful son; you’re a screw up at work; you’re a terrible husband; you’re a dead beat dad!
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 strip away the intrinsic value with which you were created.
Hold. On. Pain. Ends.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death of those between the ages of 10 and 34 & in 2017 47,000 beautiful souls walked off of the stage of life in the middle of their song. Another 1.4 million attempted to take their own lives.
I’m alive today and experiencing so many beautiful and heartfelt moments with Sophia and her brother Anthony by sheer miracle and mercy. 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 messes and today I strive to share the hope within my story. We are rescued to rescue. My path as a coach, author and speaker leads me to people and places that are abundant with opportunities to share seeds of hope of a life that is meant to be lived fully.
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 and for purpose.
When you find your “why” there’s no “how” that will stop you!
You are known; needed; loved.
Don Mann, Coach, Author, Speaker