Eric discusses some of the “scripts” that have shaped his life, sharing some of his most significant breakthroughs and turning points. He tells us more about his motivational phrase, “no more shadow forces” and what’s it’s been like to sometimes feel like a puppet on strings of his own making.
Episode 3: Fallen from Grace
And I remember getting back in my Jeep and saying, there it is, my most authentic self showing up, not Eric trying to outrun his demons, not Eric trying to do something good to outweigh the bad. I like where I’ve ended up
Rob Dale, Eric Deschamps, Trefor Munn-Venn
Hi, and welcome to Living Richly. My name is Rob Dale and I’m here with my friends, Trefor Munn-Venn and Eric Deschamps. We’ve been talking about how to live your best life, the journey that we are on about. Just experiencing what that means and learning and growing, and we really do welcome you to be part of the journey and it’s so great to have you with us today.
We thought it would be great for us to spend some time talking about our own journeys and sharing a little bit about what brought us into this world of. Living your best life. And today we’re gonna be talking and we’re gonna be hearing a little bit of Eric’s story. And I’m so excited to be able to hear that and to have Eric share that story.
Trev, maybe let’s start with hearing a little bit from you on how you connected to this guy that you supposedly consider one of your best friends. Supposedly it’s in doubt now. Yes, it’s in doubt. It’s…the connection with Eric was immediate when, when we first met, like we really did click right away.
And I think over time we started to figure out why we clicked right away. And there’s, there’s so much we shared in common for sure. And it’s been what, about a decade or so? Yeah. Time flies. It’s crazy. Or drags, I don’t know. Yeah, right, right. I dunno how it’s been for you. And, you know, I’ve been looking forward to today because we all, you know, in friendships we tend to reveal our story a bit at a time.
But very seldom do we sit down and say, here’s the narrative. Like here it is. Let me tell it from a beginning to where we are today. Yeah. Thanks for amping up, right? With that. Thank you. Lemme dial it up even more. Where’s the purpose? Yeah. But I think you know, in, in that, that’s that I think it’s a great honor to sit with someone as they tell their story and.
What’s interesting is, right, I know I only show up in this story partway through, but I can tell you your effect on me and in my life has been huge. Right? The, so yes, one of my best friends, maybe, maybe Rob my only best friend. Wow. We’ll, we’ll see how it goes. You’ll get a chance to redeem yourself perhaps, you know, but what can I tell you about this guy?
He’s smart, articulate, caring, driven, passionate, curious, thoughtful, all of those things. So you go, yeah, that’s a nice laundry list of, you know, great qualities. But I’ll also tell you, and we, we’ve talked about this before, is the, the two greatest acts of kindness that I’ve experienced in my life came from this guy.
and those are moments that are deeply personal for me and deeply meaningful for me. And those, those moments will never be lost. And I think those moments revealed so much about who you are and what you value and what you stand for. I know it, you know, your, yours has been a life that’s very full.
You’ll describe the, the nature of that fullness and. and that evolution and to, to have been able to be on part of that journey with you and to know we’ve got hopefully years and years and years and decades and decades and decades of, of story left to, to, to build and share together. For me that’s, that’s very exciting.
I, I’m really excited about this. Thank you, brother. Yeah, it really is. And, and of course, you and I have known each other now weeks , 30 weeks or so. Yeah. 30 years. No, 30 years. 30 years. And, and I knew of you even before we had met and you, it really was, yeah, I stalk you and in a way I did stalk you.
I mean you were in, we were of course in the same denomination as ministers. You were this wiz kid that was being highly touted, certainly in the, in the Ottawa area with, with what you were doing. And you were somebody that was certainly on my radar to, to get to know and to, to learn. Certainly in those early days of getting to know you, and we were kind of in the same trajectory of, of launching into church world and, and doing all the things that we did watching your growth and watching the growth of the, of the churches that you were involved in having an opportunity to hear you speak.
I remember the very first time I heard you speak I almost just quit the profession cause I thought this was, this was one of the. Stiff. Not the best communicator I had heard up to that point, and certainly to this day, still consider you up there as one of the, the greatest communicators that I know of, and somebody that I, we really are dialing up the pressure here.
Wow. that I, that I learn of all of your, I’ll be back later guys. All of your value to me. Friend is in the performance that you have, . This is, this is make or break for me today, right? This is make or break. No, make or break. You know, I, I’m interesting how you talk about in some of those significant moments that where Eric was, and, and certainly for me as well in, in probably the most significant career shift.
That I ever experienced. You were the guy that was there. When I felt that there was no hope, that there was no opportunity, I was kind of lost. I was gonna be leaving the church world. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think I had any skillset set outside of that. And you were the one that sat across and said, Hey, why don’t you, and I mean the famous question, have you ever thought about coaching?
But really behind that was, Hey, do you want to take this journey with. And you invited me on a journey. You gave me some hope, you gave me a sense of Okay. I remember that conversation. Yeah. And I, and I remember walking out of there thinking, I’m gonna be okay. And, and certainly that is something that you bring to the table with all of the descriptions that you gave Trav around the passion and the, the, just the commitment.
I, for me, probably at the very top of the, Characteristics that has certainly that I see in you is loyalty. Mm-hmm. , one thing I know is that you are committed as a friend. I know that I can come and show up in whatever state I’m in. And you will be there as a friend. And and I deeply appreciate you and I know we deeply appreciate you.
He considers you his only best friend. You are my only best friend as a, I’m really glad we cleared that up. You so much in you. Rob. You each only have one best. Friend I have too. So I’m doing better than both of these. Yeah. So it is, no, but it is wonderful to have you and, and, and to really hear you share your story.
I know parts of it it, it, it isn’t typical for friends to just sit and share the full story. So I’m so excited about this. So it is your story. This is really about where did you how did you end up into this world of living richly and, and looking that. So where do you want to start on this story?
Where do you start? A story like that, right? No pressure at all. No, thank you gentlemen. I mean, a big part of the story has been our friendship and the stuff I’m gonna share today, obviously my past what led me to this you guys have been huge contributors. Can’t I can’t overstate how important you have been in this whole process together.
There’s a great song by a guy by the name of Dean Lewis. I came across a few months back and Are you gonna sing it? I’m not good . It’s been a while. I, I’ve heard you say, I heard you say, yeah, it’s been a while. Yeah. It wouldn’t be a bad thing but I, when I heard it it really resonated with me because it would be the, I think, the perfect summary of how I lived most of my life.
And, and it goes like this. I’ve been running from my demons afraid to look behind. I’ve been running from myself afraid of what I’d find, but how am I supposed to love? When I don’t love who I am and how could I give you all of me when I’m only half a man cuz I’m a sinking ship that’s burning. So let go of my hand.
Well, how can I give you all of me when I’m only half a man? When I first heard that song this was on the other side of feeling that way and living that way, which was pretty much most of my adult life. Now there’s a song by Robbie Williams that ends in the words I love my life. And I’m finally where I want to be.
And that’s the, that’s the good news cuz that’s my story now. Grew up in Ottawa. I’m a home grown kid. My dad is originally from Plantagenet. Grew up on a rural farm. My mother was from Castleman. Actually my grandfather, her dad was the baker used to bake the bread and drive it around, deliver it to people’s homes back in the day.
So homegrown in the area we. Very religious family. Went to church every Sunday. I remember my brother and I as young kids being forced to go to mass every Sunday morning. How we would we were slow learners cuz we made fun of the altar boys just about every single week, only years later to find myself.
As a minister, funny how fate sometimes can can do that to you. My dad had his own business. He was a professional his own accounting firm. My mother worked with him. So I grew up with a business owner as a dad. So the very st str, very religious home very strong work ethic and a good home.
I mean, I knew my parents I knew my parents loved me. Proud of me. They would tell me that all the time, but not terribly present. They were busy in the business. They had a lot going on. Matter of fact, most of the memories I have of growing up with my dad was doing stuff with him around the house.
That’s when I would get time with him was when he was fixing something or building something or and certainly learned a lot. To how to be handy around the house from that. But those are some of my earliest memories. But the life trajectory, it I think if I was to summarize sort of one of the key themes is forced to grow up far too quickly.
Wow. And, and it pushed to the front of the room off. And far before I was ready. Fast, fast forward into my teenage years. My brother left home when he was about 16 under really tough circumstances. So I, I lost his presence and my life early on. My parents left, eventually sold the business and left for the mission field when I was 18 years old.
And had to do a lot of grow. Really, really quick. Had a strong sense from an early age that I was, that my life was gonna be about helping people. That was always a big part of who I was. I, I, I can, I remember memories of, even as a young kid young religious kid, right? Sitting up at bed at night before falling.
Praying for world peace right. Praying that God would take all of the nuclear weapons of the world and just make them disappear. I mean, stuff like that. And later on as a teenager it was a running joke in my parents’ place. Every Friday I’d be bringing some stray home some kid from youth group or from school that I knew that was going through a hard time.
So, so helping others and, and trying to be supportive has been a, a, a key part of who I am from an early stage. And that, that was core for you, right? Core. So, You’re, you just described it a little bit in religious terms as well, like, but that was more like your channel that you were using at that time.
Mm-hmm. , but that, that helping nature. that, that’s central, isn’t it? Very central to me. It, it’s still see it today, right? Yeah. It’s just screams through you, right? Like you, you give a shit. It’s, it’s been interesting to reclaim it because what ended up happening is the, the script of being all by myself feeling very much that I had to figure stuff out and just.
A long history of meaningful people in my life. Kind of moving on. One of my li major life scripts I call one of my superscripts is I’m all alone in this. Mm-hmm. And I’m gonna have to figure shit out on my own. Which in some ways drove me to perform, drove me to learn certain things and learn certain skills.
It’s served me in some respects, and yet came to realize just how toxic that fuel was. Where your, I’m cha I was chasing validation. In helping people. So something that was core to who I was as an individual as a person became a means to try to meet needs that weren’t being met. This need, this need for affirmations, this need for validation, this need that I matter, that I exist that I’m important, that I’m doing something good.
And, and you know, we talked in, in the earlier podcast, we talked part of of what it means to live richly. And, and I, I talked about this whole piece around it all starts with self-acceptance, radical self-acceptance. And from there you begin to move into radical self-care where you put yourself first.
And then ultimately then from there, you can move to radical self-actualization, becoming the best version of you. So I was reflecting on my story and preparation for today’s show. Today’s episode, I, I kind of mapped that model against, which is my new model, but against the model I lived with for most of my life.
And instead of radical self-acceptance, it was deep self-loathing. Instead of radical self-care, it. Pretty much running on fumes my whole life. The tank near empty and depleted, giving what I barely had to give and offer other people. And instead of self-actualization, it was more like partial activation at best.
I feel like part of my personality was forced to grow up quickly, you know fend for myself, figure things out for myself, be out there on my own. It wouldn’t be long that I would feel a calling to we had left the Catholic church at this point and moved. Protestant side of the house, we we, we defect.
Ah, . It’s a inspection when I was about 10 and we, we made the switch and normal teenage kid bouncing around, kind of, you know, experimenting with different things and but doing what I called a quiet rebellion. My, my brother was doing a very outward rebellion and causing my parents a lot of heartache is, a lot of teenagers do.
I think it’s part of their job. To Right. It caused heartache. But I remember knowing and seeing the pain that my parents were going through and, and, and not wanting to put them through that. And so I, I did things behind the scenes. I, I kept it very much under wraps, but around the age of 16 I had.
In no other way to explain it. A, a spiritual experience that I’m sure will unpack a bit more when we talk about spirituality in a future episode. But and that’s where I felt a, a sense that I was gonna go into the ministry and, and become a, a minister. And fast forward just a few years later at the age of 23 with the help of the home church I was part of at the time planted my own church in Ottawa’s Inner City and yeah, again, 23.
Yeah. And, and it’s interesting, you know, having been in that world myself, and we’ve had these conversations at times 23 is a incredibly young age to be going out and, and leading your own congregation. I mean, you know, my brain wasn’t even fully, your brain developed, right? I mean, 25 is kind of the magic number there, right?
Like I think about. By the time I by the time I was launching the bikers church and, and kind of starting up that congregation, I had already been a, a youth pastor for a number of years, an associate pastor for a number of years. I’d been a senior pastor, a lead pastor of established church.
The amount of pressure and the, the, the weight that, of the burden that must have been on your shoulders to try to go out there at 23. It blows my mind. I think, you know, maybe for a number of our listeners, they might not be able to appreciate the weight of what you would carry as a lead minister. Not just budgets and all the, the kind of the business side of church, but the weight of the, the, the, the, the, the.
Challenges and the, the spiritual, you know, all of the issues, people coming to you for counseling, coming to you for advice, all of this stuff that must have been enormous for you at 23. It was like living in a fishbowl. I mean, I described it at this point. I had already been married three years, got married at the age of 20.
My wife at the time was only 19. Kids. Yeah. Yeah. You know my kids are 26 now. My eldest Rachel, she’s getting married next year. And I’m absolutely thrilled. My middle one, gab Gabby, she just finished her masters in arts with a specialization in history at Ottawa University with honors, and she’s just, Probably the smartest kid I know.
And my youngest, Sam my son he’s 17 just finishing up high school this year. And I think of, I think of Gabby. I think of Rachel you know, still so young and accomplished adults in their own making, but still. So just at the beginning and already at that stage, I, I was married I had bought a house.
I had, I was doing all the things that often are pushed a little bit further into adulthood. But this was part of that journey that I was on of often being having just to grow up so fast. And I was young. I remember we, we had a small group that helped us start the church. We, there’s maybe 30 of us.
And of course I was the youngest kid in the room. And yet I am their leader. And so much pressure and, and so all the focus in that world at that time, all the support I got all the to, to, to do this was how to run the. Right. How, how to, how to speak how to do the musical part, how, how to host the, that, that service, that weekly service.
This is back at a time where leadership, mentoring wasn’t even really on the radar. I, I think if you’d go to a, a lookup. But bookshelves at the time in any kind of bookstore for leadership material, there wasn’t a whole lot, there’s no training really in, in what it would take to do that. And so all the focus was on the externals doing, I hear you talk about my ability to stand up in front of a crowd and speak, and certainly I, I, I hone that craft cuz I had to and it became to in some degrees.
Good. But I remember a time not long before I left the church in 2008 where I’d come to despise that gift. Come on, Dan’s monkey. Oh, get up there and do your thing every Sunday, every Saturday. Having to get up and bring something fresh and impress and motivate and inspire and people not seeing me almost as a human being, just seeing me as the guy on stage and, and, you know, to just to, can they stand down?
Just that’s a good. I just wanna make, I wanna get the two mics on the outside. Basically the ass end of each one pointed at each other. You know what I mean? Because cuz your, obviously your intent is to talk to the guys. Right. And so your voice is going, your mouth is pointed away from the mic right now.
Gotcha. So I would ideally like the mic between you and Trevor, you know what I mean? If you slide it to your left, Trevor, if you slide yours to your right. Yeah. There. Oh, perfect. Because your a tendency obviously in, in the flow of conversation is to look at each other. Sure. It’s to drift. Yeah. So we want that.
Even a little further in if we could Oh, closer together? Yeah. Oh, like, yeah, just it’s, it’s, it’s gonna happen. There’s not much we can do about it, but in terms of Towards me or away where, cause you want it towards me, right? Like Yeah. We want it to close to me. Yes. Very close to you. Like this, but the point.
Yeah. We just, right now. Because you’re turning like this, right? Gotcha. So now you’re front, front, now you’re straight on. Yeah. Now the shot of your voice is perfect. Right, right. Where it needs to be. And perfect. Trevor. And we are perfect. Trevor, we’ll just call him that from now on. . We’re about 18 minute mark.
Okay. Just so you know. Thank you. Excellent. So I was gonna jump in right there. So it’s a good still spot to jump in. So I just finished saying the piece about, I came to despise that. Yeah. And you were gonna jump in. Yeah. You know, and let, and let me just say, and because I watched a lot of that development with you and, and just for people to understand, p people would come from all over North America if they were coming to Ottawa to, to go to, and they were gonna be attending church in, in our kind of denominational world.
They were going to your church to see kind of, for lack of a better word, you perform, right? They were going there knowing that they were going to get incredibly solid music they were going to, and then they were going to get this fireball preacher who was going to be high energy for 35, 45, 55 minutes, depending on the, the best.
You generous, right? Yeah. Sometimes over longer. But there’s this and this full energy and, and they would be disappointed if they walked away from one of those where maybe you are having a bad day, so you couldn’t have a bad day. . No, you couldn’t have a bad day. And what people didn’t realize is, again, the, the more, the more time went on the more I felt like a fraud.
Mm-hmm. , the more I felt like my public self and my private self didn’t line up. And it wasn’t about that wasn’t a hypocrisy piece. It was traditional, I mean, we’re, we talk about imposter syndrome. I mean, I felt it. So deeply that I was smiling on the outside, but in many ways felt like I was dying on the inside.
The, as time went on, the, the, the self-loathing again, getting again the, the outwards validation of. Eric as the, the speaker, Eric as the singer, Eric as the church leader, Eric, as the young guy, the church planter, and yet internally feeling afraid alone like my character didn’t line up the, the way that it would, and in many ways I, I said this to you guys just before the episode started in many ways because of that pain, that private pain that I was in the, the vast majority of people would’ve been in shock to hear that I felt that way about myself, that I, I didn’t when I say deep self-loathing, there’s, there’s no better way to put it.
It wa it wasn’t just a I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. No, I didn’t want to be in my own skin and really believe that if people saw the real. They would, they would leave in a heartbeat. I was convinced of that, and so lived in tremendous fear and anxiety about, again, this disconnect between my private life and my, my public life.
How long, how long did you live with that? Like, you li it, it came to a head in 2008 when you left. But when did, when, when did you like tune in to go? Oh, like was it always there or do you I think in, I think that’s a great question. I think in, I mean, we started the church in 1993, so if my math is correct, and my memory is serving me right 1993, and I was there for 15 years in my early twenties, I think I knew stuff was off.
Like I, I felt off and I felt insecure and I felt unsure of myself, but I, I just wrote that off to. Well, that’s par for the course, right? I, I’m new at this. This is just beginning. But as, as time went on and there were more and more challenges, and there would be more and more people that would come to the church and, and would be drawn a course to the leadership.
And most of your, for folks who may not understand most of your relationships in that world are folks in your congregation. And so when people come and people go, your friends often, And they go, right? So the more meaningful people moved out of my life, the stronger this script became that see people leave me when they get to know me, when they get to start to get close to real Eric and not public, Eric, they go, Hmm, not so much.
Thank you very much. So I would say Travis was really as I got into my later twenties I, I remember in my late twenties I would. Probably suffering from mild burnout chronic low-grade depression probably throughout all of those years. I would eventually go through two significant burnouts.
The first one the church didn’t know what to do with that. And so they just gave me time off. I, I was depressed. I was in a bad place. I was angry. I was bitter. I was I was lost. And in, in many ways my. I had my pain had driven me deep into my faith, but my faith was making it worse because in, in many ways the expectations of that world of, again, in leadership, having to be that role model, having to live the perfect life, to be the perfect dad, to be the perfect husband.
Again, that the, the standard was so high and, and, and I held myself the expectations that were just so unrealistic. And, and, and so. A failing grade on everything. I, I, you know I was so consumed with trying to just survive and, and continue to do good cuz I, I still had a heart to do good, but that had become so tainted now that I was even resentful.
Of having to support others and help others and checked out in, in, in many ways. I mean, I you know, not fully present with my kids not fully present in my marriage. I, my mind was elsewhere, right? I, I loved my kids. I, I loved my wife at the time. And, and but that would lead to eventually after I left the church that marriage falling apart.
And in, in this, again, this endless effort to try to, to try to find what I was giving others. I desperately wanted what I was giving others, which was hope and promise of a second chance. And that there is forgiveness for your mistakes. That there is grace. And I remember coming to a place where I firmly believed those things were true, but they weren.
True for me that one of my superscripts is this notion of and I held this on for a very, very long time. It was that somehow I was different that I was fatally flawed. That I was flawed beyond saving. And so I would do my best to help other people. But there really, there really was no hope for me.
So redemption for everyone. But not for you. It applied to, yeah. It didn’t apply to me. I was the exception to the rule. And, and that, that just was a horrible, a horrible place to live. Well, that’s a long time to carry that around cuz if you started the church in, when you were 23 and you said late twenties, that’s a long time to carry that, to be living that, to be trying to probably out maneuver that, outwork that out.
Help that out. Give that. . And then the more you do, I’m guessing, the more frustrating it gets. And the more I kept running, trying to run from it, the more I kept running into it. Yeah. I just I couldn’t get away from it. I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t, I tried to outhustle it. I tried to outmuscle it, I tried to outwork it, tried to out faith it.
I, I tried to out faith it, I tried to out prey it. I tried to, yeah. All, all the things that were supposed to. Were not working for me. And, and, and so by my late twenties I was in a, a bad state and that’s the first time that I reached out for help. And it started in some conversations with some colleagues in that were part of other churches in the city.
That opened up the door for the first time for me to share my story very carefully cuz I didn’t feel safe. And again, I that fear, so afraid that people would go. what do you mean you struggle with, with low self-esteem? What do you mean? You, you, you you think you’re a fraud? What do you All all these things.
I’m so afraid to tell my story. And so in the context of safe friendship that started to come out and I remember reaching out even in those days was the first time I reached out and got some, some help. I went to start to see a, a counselor and, and, and that was useful, but as I look back to that really what I was, because I didn’t believe that I deserved it.
I look back now and I recognize that I would do just enough work to feel good enough to re. Basically just enough work so that I could keep going, not not to feel healthy or, or oh, just so you could do the work for others just so that I could keep functioning right. So as soon as I would through therapy or through conversations with friends, I would start to engage in trying to work on these issues, trying to work on these really unhealthy beliefs that I had formed about myself and.
Again, in a, in a faith construct that was running counter to so much of that stuff, it was a, such a mixed bag. But I, I, I would engage in work until I would feel good enough to get back in the game and then I would stop the work. Cuz, cuz fundamentally I didn’t believe that I deserved to have a happy life.
I didn’t be that again, that wasn’t for me. So in the midst of all of that, you’re, you’re, you’re, you know, there’s the burnout, the, all of this stuff going. Your dad passes. Whew. Yeah, that was a big one. That was 2008. That was two years. He had been diagnosed in 2006 with lung cancer at this point.
He and my mom had moved back from California where they had moved to to do missions work in Tijuana, Mexico. And it, it, it was a, that was an interesting time because I was like, finally they’re kind of gonna be back in our lives. And I was looking forward to, to had started to forge a, a stronger relationship with dad just cuz he was gonna be around more.
And, and then he gets diagnosed with lung cancer as a person who never smoked a day in his life. He, he’s one of the ones they just. Understand why they get it. He had no real contextual issues that would’ve contributed to that environmental issues or whatever. Anyway, and two years later after a real courageous battle with cancer he passed away and, and that rocked my world because before he was even diagnosed I was now standing in that.
Every week feeling like the greatest fraud ever, not only because of this ongoing internal battle, this my own internal demons really consuming. I, I had moments, I don’t want it to sound like it was all bad. I had lots of great, there were lots of great and happy moments, but problem is that it, it was like my boat was leak.
Tremendously. So even when I’d experienced moments of happiness and seasons of where I, I was feeling better, couldn’t sustain it because I was leaking constantly, taking in water and, and so I felt my life was constantly trying to in a speedboat, but I’m, you know, I’m hauling water out the side.
I’m trying to bail out the water so that I don’t sink like it. It was this constant chase me so much. Right. You described that, and I get this picture of like a, a ship in the Caribbean surrounded. Stunning sunsets and beautiful fish and wildlife and like the perfect place in the world where you’re still panicking, trying to go.
I, I, I like this is not going well, man. Down, down man, down even when everything looks good. Right, right, right. And, and so when Dad died by that time for at least a couple years now I I w I had going through a major crisis of faith. I didn’t believe in most of what I was saying felt completely trapped because now married with three young kids I had never gone to university.
The only degree I’d finished high school in a private school, So, you know, whatever that’s worth. A church school at the time, and the only degree I had was a Bible college degree. So not terribly transferrable in the real world. No , right? So I felt trapped. How am I gonna support my family? I, I didn’t see a way out and yet I was in probably the worst space I’d ever been in, in terms of my head space and heart space.
And, and now, Was didn’t offer any relief. As a matter of fact more and more all it offered was more condemnation more criticism, more self-doubt, more self-flagellation. Like the, the closer I got to that, the more I tried to stay connected to it, the harder it became. So when, when dad died, that became the really, the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I was like, Do this anymore. And, and so there was an opportunity for me to exit. We were able to leave the church world and, and leave on on good terms and, and whatever else. But I remember as soon as I exited, and this is after giving right, I, I had founded the church. And, and Rob, to your point about a lot of folks might not understand like a church a church planter.
If you start a church, it’s not common for you to stay there that long. No. Usually the founder is there for. Five, eight years. Yep. Five. Yep. And then they, you know, it, it, there’s a, a transition of leadership. I was there for 15 and I remember I stepped out of that world and for my family and I, the world went silent.
All of those relationships, and not just in the church, but in the church community. I’d been very active as, you know. connect churches across different stripes and denominations. And the I, I described that time I, the silence was deafening is the only way to describe it.
Yeah. And so again, just reinforcing that now that I had I was no longer valuable from a functional perspective as a leader. That I wasn’t worthy of, of it. Just reinforced everything I had come to believe about myself. Went through, then again got into a business went to work for someone that offered promise that only went from bad to worse very, very quickly.
So we had lots of issues there. My marriage was falling. And I was feeling again, probably the lowest I’d ever felt. When I get an outreach through LinkedIn from an old contact of mine. And you guys know who I’m gonna mention? Yeah. Through LinkedIn. I didn’t know through LinkedIn, through LinkedIn message.
We hadn’t spoken in over a decade. . And an old mentor of mine by the name of Jim Harrington from Houston, Texas, reached out. This would’ve been in the fall of 2010, and the message was short. It was, Hey, Eric, you’ve been on my heart. How you doing? I remember feeling so grateful that the message hit my inbox, followed by tremendous shame that he was reaching out to me and I was probably at the worst spot I’d ever been in, in, in my whole life.
What went through your mind at that point? Cuz you know, to, to have that kind of, here’s a guy reaching out when no one else has been reaching out, and then those thoughts going through your mind right away. And a guy. Gentle soul, right? Like that is like, mm, most, most genuine human being to this date that I’ve ever met and been a huge influence in my life.
What was I feeling? What was going through my mind? As I said, it was I, I, I, I dared not delete the message because it was the only threat of hope that I had at the time. The only person that was there for me during that time, my family tried to be there, was trying to be there, but they didn’t know the whole story.
And nor was I comfortable sharing it with them. And I, they didn’t even know at that time that my marriage was falling apart. I, I had, I had kept that a secret again, I, I, I felt like such a failure now coming from the church world, and I couldn’t even. I couldn’t even keep my marriage together. So that, that just added to, to all of.
Ready. Long story short, I I, I didn’t answer his message for months. I was too ashamed. So you couldn’t delete it, couldn’t, couldn’t delete it. Couldn couldn’t, couldn’t respond, right? Oh, what a trap to feel stuck in. And it wasn’t until things got so bad that in January I finally responded and I forget exactly what I said, but it was basically Jim, I’m in the worst place I’ve ever been.
He quickly offered to get on a quick phone call and on that phone call we chatted and and he invited me to come down to spend a few days with him in Houston, Texas. And that be, began, began a journey for me of tremendous healing. But it would be a long road. Even beyond that. That was a, that was a, a linchpin moment for me where he began to help me start dislodging this notion of being fatally flawed and that I was different and that I didn’t deserve grace and that I didn’t deserve a second chance my marriage would fall apart.
That was, that was a. Ended up getting remarried to my first girlfriend in, in high school. That just felt safe, I guess, and was good for a little while. But I, I still was carrying a bunch of a bunch of baggage that song that I referred to at the beginning. How can I give you all of me?
I still very much felt all. Progress had been made. I, I still was a long way away from being able to show up fully in any relationship because I couldn’t show up fully for me that was a difficult difficult time. She had her own stuff going on. I had my own stuff going on so that marriage wouldn’t last.
And now I was on my second failure frivolous lawsuit. And I had to deal with that. I was financially destitute. I didn’t have two dimes to rub together. And all the while now I’ve made this transition into the world of coaching and helping other leaders. So continuing on an all too familiar path of helping others.
Wherein I couldn’t barely help myself. Mm. And adding value, but not feeling valuable. Wanting to avoid certain subjects and avoiding them like the plague. Especially when it started to get close to home about one’s inner world, because I knew that although my certain gifts had accelerated, cuz they.
To due to the ex the emphasis on externals the ability to deal with difficult emotions, the ability to take care of myself, the ability to be my own primary caregiver chasing validation in in what I did and in, in. Other people’s response to me that that was like, that was the default setting.
And it wasn’t until my second marriage was about to, was on the rocks and it wasn’t doing well. And tra you’ll remember this cuz we, by this time we’re in business together. And winter, and you’ll remember this too. Rocks. You were, yeah. You were there. I was with you. Winter of 2017.
Yeah. Yeah. Had a massive panic attack. I woke up one morning for the better part of an hour. I was physically blind. I couldn’t see I felt like I was having a heart attack. My chest was tight. I was in really rough shape. And so we rushed to the emergency clinic. . And, and that’s when the doctor diagnosed me with basically saying, you’re having a massive panic attack.
You’re your, your stress levels are off the charts terrifying. I was, I was, I, I didn’t know it was, I’d never, I’d gone through burnout before. I’d never felt this before. And would be off work for a better part of two months, I think it was. And by this time had begun conversations. We had met another, A friend of ours, Dr.
Sherry Kane and went and spent a week with her down in Bedford, Pennsylvania, where she’s from. And for five days straight, all day for five days, we met and she helped me tremendously begin to build on the found. Previous work to take that to another level and begin to accept myself more.
And I, I still remember one very poignant moment. My, my, my inner critic. We all have that voice and it’s our voice talking to ourselves. Mine was very unkind, very harsh, very. and she had been challenging me about the way that I spoke to myself and and I kept, I kept just brushing it off. Like, but that’s what I kind of, cuz in my head I’m like, but that’s what I deserve.
I don’t deserve kind words in my direction. Look at the, look at the list of failures behind me. Look at the lineup of hurt. People, I, I could barely see the any good that I had done. And there was actually, in hindsight, there was a lot of good that was done. Yeah, absolutely. But all I could see was the pain that I had caused myself and others.
And anyway, we took a break in between sessions for lunch and I come back and we’d come back to the very same room. You know, the room, we’ve, we’ve all been there. We’ve been. Too well, too well . The, the, the two big recliners, right? The, the, the two big recliners in the room that she would sit in. One, I’d sit in the other, and now I, I sit down back in my recliner to start our afternoon session.
And beside me on the floor is a little plastic children’s toy chair, and I’m like, , what is that? But in the back of my mind, I’m saying, I am not asking her . Right? Right. Leave it alone. You smart enough to know not to. I don’t know why the fuck that chair is beside me, but I am not asking the question. And she sat down and we just started and she made, made no mention of the chair.
So internally, I’m like, who? I just dodged a bullet here. Until it, it wouldn’t take long for me to start again. Speaking very unkindly about myself and, and, and putting myself down. And I remember her saying, stop , she stopped me. . And you know how Sherry is when she does that? Oh yeah. Right. You’re like, uhoh.
She says, I want you to stand up. And I said, why She just stand up? So I did. He says, I want you to turn and look at that chair and. Okay. She goes, I want you to imagine your son. My son would’ve been much younger at the time. You’re just a little boy. So I want you to imagine him in that chair sitting there looking at you, and I want you to talk to him like you just talked about yourself.
Fucking Sharon said that, right? I think that solicited my ever first Fuck you share in that moment. But that was, that was a breakthrough moment. Again, I’m a slow learner, so there was a lot of breakthroughs that week and in subsequent months, but the pattern of only doing the work when I’m in pain continued to show up.
And so as I exited that second marriage and started to find my footing again I began to neglect the work. I stopped talking to Sherry. I wasn’t doing the, the personal work, the reading, the reflection and I would find myself beginning to slide back in into those old patterns. Fast forward to then the summer of 2021.
And the three of us are at one of our offsites for our other business doing some sort of some strategic planning review of how things are going. And we were reviewing the vision for that company and this language around living richly showed up and it showed up pretty unexpected. I remember all three of us going, yeah.
What sound interesting. I certainly at the time had begun to experience measures of it. We had shifted to a four day work week. I was beginning to experience some growth and some further breakthroughs, but still not full. Lots of work still remaining. Yeah. And I remember that message re resonating very deeply for the three of us.
And the question that we asked at this time, if you guys recall, was like, well, I wonder what that looks like for me. What does that look like for me? Like, what, what does living richly look like for me? And that would set me off on, again, a, a journey of well, it took over a year. Of sitting with that question, as I continued to square off with some of those same demons and some of those same old superscripts, although they were diminishing, they were still, they still held, held power over me.
I, I often refer to those as the shadow forces of my life pulling strings from the shadows, and they were continuing to do so. A couple more failed relat. You know, brought to the surface stuff that I had yet to resolve. And, and yet that asking of that question began a process that led to ultimately the spring of this year.
I’ve told you guys this before. I’ve been focusing on the bad news, but the, the good news is like April, 2022, late April something landed for me. All the work over the last several years it, it’s like all of a sudden it dropped from my head down into my heart. And when people ask me to describe 2022 it, it’s almost like.
BC a d , it, it, it is that, that that transformational for me that I began to step into something moving beyond just living for years, trying to numb and run from the pain or doing just enough work to experience enough pain relief to get back on the field and keep serving like a good soldier to start moving into actually wellbeing.
Yeah. And experiencing those breakthroughs in my beliefs in my practices and, and beginning to put myself first and live just on the, on the cusp of it, I believe, but living more richly. Well, and, and I think, you know, you’re such a great example of we say it often in our conversations and, and certainly for those of you that might be listening in on this podcast relating to lot, there is no easy button there is.
Just, you know, flick a switch and you know. Yeah, absolutely. Right. There is no, this isn’t a, and if there had been, I wouldn’t have believed it was for me. Right. Exactly. Right. It’s for other people. Seek other people because the scripts, and I love the language of superscripts. The superscripts have such hold over us.
That it does take there’s a lot of factors in these. This is what we’re gonna be, we’re gonna be exploring in this podcast. Or what are the things that help us to change those scripts? Yeah. To, to create new scripts and to do all of that. And that, that has been so much of what the work was done. And then you had this moment where it just kind of, as you said, landed.
And I can remem I remember the day, right. I mean, we were, you know, certainly, you know, 6, 6 30 in the morning. There was text messages to the two of us and guys this and that, and I was like, I don’t remember how excited. And also kind of like sh scared shitless that, holy crap, we have just entered another level with this.
And, and to see that happen with you. But it was not an immediate thing. It was, it was a journey of getting there of lots of one step forward, two steps. You’re now at this, right? You’re now at this place where you’re having this encounter 2022, the beginning, you know, spring of 2022. What are some of those new scripts or what are the things that you’ve been learning?
A couple of things that maybe we could, we are going to probably spend much more time talking about over the next. A number of podcasts, but what would be some of, in summary, some of those things that you’re learning that you would want to share with our listeners? I think the, the biggest lessons the things that landed the most was that I deserved a great life.
That How did, how did that feel, just to say that just now. it it’s not that long ago. I couldn’t have said that. Yeah, yeah. And now I say it with deep belief, deep conviction that I deserve it. And that all of us deserve to live a rich life regardless of where we’ve come from, what we’ve been through, what our story has been.
I remember one phrase that landed for me so powerfully that even as. Continue to lean into the work cuz we’re always evolving that. Although I’m still becoming the best version of me, I’m as worthy as I’ll ever be. In other words, there’s nothing I need to do to earn it. I don’t need to chase it. I don’t need to to get it from other people.
I, I, I would hear people talk about self-care and I would almost, again, I. Why would I take care of someone who didn’t deserve to be taken care of? Like it didn’t make sense. And now self-care for me is so important. It is. And, and I even use the term terminology, radical self-care because I don’t even know if self-care will do it in today’s world anymore.
I think we need to embrace a much more radical view of it. I I feel more ground. I feel more solid. And I remember in those early months, I said to you guys like, but I haven’t experienced any tests yet. Remember what I said? Remember that I said like so far, like, I’m experiencing this growth thing.
Just throw that out of the universe. I remember saying, they go, shit, what did I just say? Like, why did I. Say that, and then the test started to come. And what I experienced was the ability to navigate through them much differently than before. The ability to self-regulate, to find my footing much quicker.
Things that in the past would’ve set me off for days and perhaps even weeks down of really. Path now, within a day or a couple of days, I, I, I’m able to find my footing again. And part of that comes to again there is, there has been no easy one solution or magic bullet or easy button. It’s been a, a series of conversations and work and two steps for one step forward, two steps back.
And now it feels much more like one step. one step forward. Yeah. One step forward. Right. The occasional step back half a step back. Half a step back. Yeah. Or even just a day where you’re just holding your ground. Right. Right, right. Like even that’s a big day. I think so, yeah. Right. When you, when you compare it to, to what was before, you know, and to hear you say, , I’m okay to say I deserve that.
And we know you well enough. There’s no arrogance behind that. There’s no hubris behind that. There is a deeper self knowing and self reflection and self acknowledgement behind that, right? It’s not about arrogance. It’s about acceptance. Right. You know, it’s interesting you say that because, and I, and I I, are you gonna disagree
No, no, no. Yeah. And in, in for once, I agree with you, Robert, for while wait till we get to your story. Right. It’s no, I, I think that it’s, it’s so interesting because your, those core values of, of your, your desire to serve others and to support others, it’s still there. , but the scripts around it are what’s radically different.
Would that be a fair way to summarize that? My beliefs have fundamentally changed. And little by little what I find myself experiencing is a, a, a reclaiming of things that I had lost. And I’ll tell this quick story and, and I know this podcast is probably already edging on very long this episode, so we’ll wrap it up.
But a quick story. I was dropping my son off up at the mall where he works. And I just, the conversations with him, the relationship with him, I’m just so blessed felt, felt so blessed in that moment that I was just, became very present as he left, jumped out of. And started to walk away. I, my eyes welled up with tears.
My heart was just overwhelmed. So grateful for him and the relationship I have with him. And then as I drove away as I was leaving the mall parking lot, there was a homeless man leaning up against the building, warming himself in the sun. It was cold that morning, but the sun was, was, was strong and he was warming himself.
And after I left the church world, after giving so much for so many years I was done. . Yeah, I, I was resentful of giving and here I was, I drove past him. I’m feeling this moment of, of gratitude for my son and I immediately find myself turning the Jeep around parking in the parking lot, walking over to him asking him if he had had eaten yet.
Stuff I would’ve done years ago. But I hadn’t done in so long, asked him if he want. Anyway, long story short, went, got him something inside, brought it to him to eat, and a coffee. And he was so grateful. Just so grateful. And I remember getting back in my Jeep and saying, there it is. But. From my most authentic self showing up, not Eric trying to outrun his demons, not Eric trying to do something good to outweigh the bad.
This was now, no, this is, I, I’m, I’m, I’m good. I, I, I, the words of the song that ended, I, I like where I, I’ve landed. I like where I’ve ended up. And so just very, very deeply grateful. We’ll, we’ll have a chance in future episodes to unpack more of some of of that transformation and some of the, the, the knowledge that’s come from it.
But all I would say to anyone listening, if if you’re doubting yourself, if you struggle with this sense that you just don’t deserve grace or you don’t deserve a second chance, or, or you, you feel like a fraud or you feel like an imposter all I want you to hear. There’s hope there is a second chance.
You just gotta give yourself a break. Stop beating yourself up. Start being grateful for all that you’ve got going on. There’s an, there’s an opportunity to, to carve a new way forward. You, you don’t have to live you. If I would give them one piece of advice, tell your inner critic to take a fucking walk.
You don’t need him. Mm. So good. So so much powerful truth. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You continue to inspire me in, in the day you inspired me with what you did on a stage and the way that all of that stuff today you inspire me with your vulnerability and and how. See this authenticity.
And it really is what we see it probably more than most because of the relationship, because of the friendship and the Eric that we see when we are alone. And there’s no podcast, there’s no audio, there’s no video, there’s none of this. Stuff is the, is the Eric that that is certainly out there.
And, and I so deeply appreciate you and, and and taking the time to share your story. This is the Lord of the Rings version of the podcast. and directors cut. So we’re going to be a director’s cut. We are. But we do really want to thank you. For listening in, for taking the time to, to hear this story.
We hope that it inspires you encourages you to continue to be a part of this journey with us. We wanna invite you to do a couple of things as we wrap up this podcast today. First thing is, If this story has spoken to you, if it has inspired you or just moved you, would you take a moment and share it share it on your network, share it in your socials to, to just, and maybe share a couple of things that stood out as to why others might want to take some time to listen to Eric’s story.
We would deeply appreciate it if you would take the time to do that. What else did they do? Well, it could subscribe to this. The good idea. There’s, there’s a couple more stories coming. Apparently yours in mine. The We’ll get the bourbon ready. We’ll get those ready. The wait. , you know, doing this journey together.
Yeah. I, I think has been transformative. And so trying to do it alone yeah. Futile will be too strong a word, but boy, it’s, it’s the hard way. It’s hard. And so if, if you’re looking around going, I got nobody else to do this with, come do it with us. Do with us. Stick with us. We’re gonna keep sharing what we’ve learned.
We want to hear what you learn as well. But stick with us through this. Yeah. And of course we’re gonna have our website living richly.me/act. Yeah. All if you, if you go there, there’s all kinds of resources. We’ll be posting links to books, articles, tools. I want to throw the links to those two songs out.
Yeah. Those two songs, those, those. Great songs and so make sure to bookmark our website and, and visit it after the podcast where we, we will dump all the stuff that we’ve shared on there. Thanks for listening and we hope you tune in for the next episode.