“I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin.” Join Rob and Eric in this powerful interview with special guest Jason Spears. Jason welcomes us into his personal story of overcoming self-loathing, significant wounding, and incredible hardship through the power of forgiveness, self-acceptance and letting go. Learn how to love yourself and open the door to living your best life.
Show Notes for Episode 34
Jason Spears has been in the people business for over 25 years.
From assisting the homeless to secure housing and retain jobs, to working through growth obstacles with business leaders, Jason’s passion is to encourage people and organizations to become the best version of themselves. His role has been that of a tour guide, walking alongside people, and helping them to explore all of the possibilities from every vantage point. It’s easier to point people in the direction that you think they need to go, but it’s a lot more fun helping them discover that for themselves.
Jason lives in the Albany, Georgia area and is the Organizational Development Specialist at Albany Area Primary Health Care. He is the father of four amazing children and recently got engaged to his sweetheart.
Connect with Jason Spears…
Key Concepts from Episode 34: Finding Freedom in Forgiveness with Jason Spears
In this episode of The Living Richly Podcast, host Eric Deschamps and Rob Dale welcome guest Jason Spears to share his inspiring journey of forgiveness, self-discovery, and healing.
Jason begins by discussing the numerous experiences of forgiveness and releasing pain that have shaped his life. He mentions how R.T. Kendall’s quote on forgiveness deeply resonated with him and reflects on his struggle to forgive his late uncle. Although he couldn’t forgive him externally, Jason sat with his thoughts and expressed forgiveness internally, beginning his own healing process.
One significant aspect of Jason’s journey was learning to love and value himself. He admits to seeking love and worthiness from others, but unintentionally hurting people in the process. Gradually, Jason started forgiving himself for the pain he caused others, recognizing the importance of self-forgiveness in his own healing.
To illustrate the power of self-forgiveness, Jason shares a compelling story of a woman who gave her daughter up for adoption but still carried guilt and shame. He emphasizes the significance of self-forgiveness and praises the woman for her brave decision to give her daughter a better life.
Jason also opens up about a difficult period in his life where he experienced multiple losses. He lost his marriage, contracted COVID, had to give away his dog, and had limited contact with his children for over a month. He reflects on the physical and emotional toll of COVID, highlighting the overwhelmed state of his community and local hospital in Albany, Georgia.
Despite the challenges, Jason found solace in his supportive friends and a compassionate doctor who checked on him and provided medication. He emphasizes the importance of having a sense of belonging and connection, especially during times of loss and pain. Jason’s own experiences highlight the significance of relationships and support systems.
Throughout the episode, Jason’s journey of self-discovery unfolds. He recalls feeling inadequate and unlovable despite leading a growing church as a pastor in Albany. However, through the guidance of Kelly Flanagan’s book and his therapist, Andy Martin, Jason was able to save his life from self-destructive behaviour. He emphasizes the importance of facing and grieving pain instead of numbing or avoiding it, as life eventually presents circumstances where numbness becomes unsustainable.
Towards the end of the episode, Jason reflects on a counselling session that brought him to tears. The session helped him uncover the deep-rooted belief that he never truly belonged in his family. He shares how the handwritten letter from his late biological father, coinciding with his healing process, validated his worthiness of love and helped him release guilt and shame.
The podcast concludes with a discussion on the importance of being honest with oneself and not faking it for the sake of others. Jason acknowledges the difficulty of embracing this honesty and the fear of uncovering what lies beneath. However, he emphasizes that self-discovery is essential for personal growth and being able to help others authentically.
As the episode ends, Eric connects with Jason’s story, their shared experiences of self-loathing and attempts to fill a void through actions. He admires Jason’s journey of self-love and acceptance and asks him about the significant steps and moments in his transformative journey.
Overall, this episode of The Living Richly Podcast invites listeners to explore the power of forgiveness, self-discovery, and self-forgiveness in the journey toward living a rich and fulfilling life.
Episode 34 Transcript
Finding Freedom in Forgiveness with Jason Spears
Rob Dale [00:00:00]:
From adoption and abandonment to acceptance and healing. Get ready to hear a powerful story of overcoming significant wounding and becoming comfortable in your own skin. And you won’t want to miss the end of this episode. Stay tuned. Next.
Eric Deschamps [00:00:22]:
Hi and welcome to the Living Richly podcast. My name is Eric Daishaw and I’m here with my very amazing dear friend Rob Dale.
Rob Dale [00:00:30]:
I love it. Right yet to be I’m a friend today. You’re my friend.
Eric Deschamps [00:00:34]:
This is the first time that I’ve actually done that introduction. This is episode number 34, so you’ve done it 33 times, so I just feel that you’re 33 times better. But I’m going to really step up my game and make sure we do this right. But what I’m really excited about today.
Rob Dale [00:00:48]:
Because none of that really matters.
Eric Deschamps [00:00:50]:
I just said what I’m about to say really matters. We have a great guest.
Rob Dale [00:00:54]:
Eric Deschamps [00:00:54]:
On the show today.
Rob Dale [00:00:56]:
We do. We have Jason Spears who is a dear old friend of ours. Old but dear. And he is somebody that we have known for a number of years now. He is a father of three incredible kids and we have certainly had a chance to hear lots. He loves to talk about and brag about his kids. He’s a former pastor like us. No, it seems like every other guest we have is a former pastor. I’m not sure what that says. I have been a public speaker for over 20 years and I will absolutely say, and I’ve said this many times, that you are one of my favorite, most inspirational public speakers. Jason is right up there beside you. The two of you. Absolutely. I can live.
Eric Deschamps [00:01:44]:
Best storyteller I’ve ever grown.
Rob Dale [00:01:47]:
He’s a former colleague of ours at Rhapsody. He was a coach with us for a number of years now. He’s an organizational development specialist and he has and just reading right out of his own profile and we’re going to have links to all of his stuff. His passion is to encourage people and organizations to become the best versions of themselves. His role has been that of a tour guide, walking alongside people and helping them to explore all the possibilities from every vantage point. It’s easier to point people in the direction you think they need to go, but it’s a lot more fun helping them discover it for themselves. And I love the fact that you do exactly that, Jason. You help people discover who they are and the direction that they need to go. Welcome. It has been absolutely needed for you to be on this podcast and it’s so good to have you here with us today. So welcome, Jason.
Jason Spears [00:02:43]:
Hey, guys, thanks so much for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I got the invitation. And I was going to say, I have loved this podcast. Every single episode has just been encouraging and life giving and so many times I have to just stop the podcast and just go, oh, man, I need to sit and think about that for a minute. And I’ll jot notes down and a lot of times I’m listening driving in my car, it’s just been rich and it’s enriched my life for sure. I’m honored to be with you today.
Rob Dale [00:03:17]:
I’ve driven in a car with you, Jason. I’ve been actually in a car with you driving, and I don’t think you should listen to the podcast while you’re driving. In fact, I kind of feel like you should have no music on, no distractions, and just pay attention to the road.
Eric Deschamps [00:03:34]:
Perhaps. Perhaps what I’m really excited about today, Jason, is not only having you on the show, but this feels to me in many ways like the continuation of so many conversations that you and I have had that the three of us have had. Whether it be when I visited you in Albany, Georgia, or when we were all together in Nashville or together so many times as a team at Rhapsody and just talking about the challenges of life that we were facing and how we were working our way through them. And your story is a powerful one, and we just want to queue it up for you to kind of jump in. Wherever it’s your story, we want you’re here to tell it today. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got here.
Jason Spears [00:04:16]:
Yeah, well, first off, I was going to say that my life has been incredibly impacted by you both. And having walked with you through a lot of what I’m going to share today, you guys have extended so much grace and encouragement and compassion and just you guys walking with me, a lot of this stuff has has been key for me. And I just want to say on the front end, thank you both. But I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 47 years ago, march 4, 1976. And my parents were young and they had addiction issues. So they had a son that was six years old when they had me, and my dad had been in and out of jail and they had a lot of issues with addictions. And so they moved from Texas to be around family, so they moved to Nashville, Tennessee. And during that time, the struggles were so overwhelming, there was an OD that took place and they just couldn’t raise both the kids, and so they had to make really brave decisions. So they gave my brother to my dad’s sister, and then they gave me because they had just had a baby themselves, and so they couldn’t take me, they couldn’t have two babies and then get another kid in. So there was a big struggle there. So there was a lady at my aunt’s beauty salon who said, well, I’m happy to help and whatever you need me to do. Two, three weeks go by, just some babysitting and several nights and weekends and things like that. And then all of a sudden, two weekends, three weekends turned into, here, you take him. And my dad came over and gave the only thing that he had. He said, I have a high chair and his birth certificate, and we just want you to take him and raise him as your own.
Eric Deschamps [00:06:41]:
Jason Spears [00:06:41]:
And I was three months old at the time when that happened, and that became the only mom and dad that I ever knew. But unbeknownst to them, this family found out that they physically couldn’t have kids. The lady who became my mom, she found out she couldn’t have kids, and she had a couple of miscarriages, and there was a lot of struggle there. So they had called their pastor over to come and pray for them that they would have a baby. And then, like about a month or so later, in walks a drug addict who said, here, please take him and raise him as you’re on.
Eric Deschamps [00:07:24]:
Wow, what a powerful story. I mean, it’s amazing to me how the universe works like that. Here you are now this is all happening, sort of. You’re just an infant. You’re not really present to all of these complicated details or stories that are unfolding. And then you grow up, right? You start growing up, and you grew up in a religious environment like many of us did. Tell us how the story continues to unfold.
Jason Spears [00:07:55]:
Yeah, I grew up in church right from the time I was three months old. I mean, we went straight to church right there. We were there every time the doors were open, and even if their doors weren’t open, but we drove by the church and there was a light on us, like, well, maybe something’s happening, so we’d have to turn in real quick. But, yeah, that was a huge part of our life growing up in that. I didn’t know I was adopted and until I was seven years old, but I didn’t remember this until I was late 30s, early forty s. I found myself in deep need of therapeutic services and counseling. And this is a repriviced memory that I’d forgotten about, but it plays a huge role into how I viewed the world and what lens I was viewing myself through and through the world at large. And when I was seven, my uncle, my dad’s brother, it was summertime, and they’re cooking hamburgers and stuff outside, and my dad runs inside, I guess to get some cheese for the burgers or something. He forgot something. And then my uncle leans down. He was about six foot five, big tall guy. And he leaned out to me when I was seven, and he said, you do realize that you’re really not a part of this family, right?
Eric Deschamps [00:09:35]:
Jason Spears [00:09:37]:
And I was like, what? And so I walked in and I told my mom, I said, what does he mean by that? And she went outside, she said, stay in here. And she went outside and called him everything but a white man. Right, you would. But then she came back in and sat me down because she was like we were trying to wait until he was older to kind of tell him, but then to tell him in that way for me to find out in that way that I really wasn’t a part. So I found out at seven years old, in the matter of ten minutes, that I had one set of family who didn’t want me or couldn’t facilitate raising me in a good environment. And then I found out that I’m really not a part of this family either. So it created this whole thing within me at such a young age of I had started having my own addiction, not to the need to be needed, but I really grew up with this whole thing, the need to be wanted. Huge component.
Rob Dale [00:10:51]:
Yeah. What an incredible story. And you mentioned that for much of your then teen years and early 20s into your thirty s, that that memory had been blocked out, that you didn’t have that remembering until later on about it. We often talk about on the Living richly podcast around the notion of these superscripts, these scripts and the superscripts that impact our lives. Sometimes they’re so overtly out there and we can identify them very quickly. Oftentimes these superscripts are so internalized, we don’t even realize they’re there until they’re pointed out by someone else. And the importance of having whether that’s a therapist or someone else in your life who can help you identify what some of those superscripts are, is critical to finally getting to the point of rewriting what those scripts are. Talk to us a little bit about some of the scripts that were controlling your life in those early days, in those teen days that maybe you didn’t even identify as being from that moment, and some that perhaps were not even from that moment. Talk to us about some of the scripts that you’ve kind of lived with during those early years of your life.
Jason Spears [00:12:06]:
Yeah, I think there was always a need to help other people and to include other people. So I always had this driving force to be a part of making sure everybody felt safe and that everybody felt good and that everybody was okay. Because I think now, don’t misunderstand, like, my mother was like the greatest person on Earth from my childhood, and even today, still, this date, she’s the best. And she always made sure I had everything I had love and all that. She was fantastic. But discovering that at such a young age, I felt like I had this heightened sense of what it felt like to not be wanted, even within my own family context. I didn’t realize it until later, but I was kind of like the outcast or they always included me, but I was never really included. Like, my mom, my dad, my grandparents, they were great, but extended family on both sides. It was kind of like, oh, well, that’s just him. So there was this feeling of not belonging to a big group of people that connectedness that community. I found that largely in church and in the Christian school I went to. And anytime I saw somebody who was in need or felt disconnected, I was the guide to go ensure that they felt that. And so my script was I had to do those things in order to be significant, in order to be important. And then you’re calling in life and what you’re doing matters when all those things start to converge, 1617 years old, I filled with call to ministry.
Eric Deschamps [00:14:19]:
Jason Spears [00:14:19]:
And so you’re dealing with those thoughts and feelings, and you’ve got people going, oh man, yeah, you’d be great, and you can do this, and you can get up and tell a story, and you can preach, and you can communicate, and you can grow something significant. So I had this whole hole in my heart that I needed build from all these external things that I didn’t even realize I had.
Eric Deschamps [00:14:50]:
Right. I can so relate, and I think Rob can as well. I mean, growing up in that world. And I think a lot of folks on the show that are listeners to the show who haven’t grown up in that world but are all too familiar with having this gaping hole in the heart where you feel like you’re not enough, where you feel like if people really saw the real you, that wouldn’t cut it. And so we end up playing roles. We’re like actors wearing a mask on a stage. And we do that because as we play those roles, we get the acclamation and we get the recognition and we get the affirmation, which is what we’re desperately seeking. And then there comes a point in our lives where we’re like, who am I? I don’t even know who I am anymore. I feel like I’m a construct of somebody else’s making. When did you reach that point where what you were doing, even out of that sincere desire to help others and plug that hole? What happened that all of a sudden you went, wait a second, this isn’t working for me anymore?
Jason Spears [00:15:58]:
Yeah. From a mid, late thirty s, I was pastoring church here in Albany. And it was great, it was growing. And I started traveling, speaking when I was in my early twenty s and was in Canada 20, 21, 22, speaking at all the camps and conferences and stuff. And it was amazing. But all the while I still felt like I wasn’t enough. I didn’t have any intrinsic value, that there’s no reason why anyone should just love me for me. And regardless of my shadows, regardless of my successes and everything in between, I wasn’t worthy to be loved. That’s what I felt. And so in my mid, late thirty s. I just really had this sense of wanting to discover why that was. And I just had some self destructive tendencies and some things that were really troubling me. So I was trying to numb my pain. And what I found was numbing your pain, you can’t numb pain that you don’t also numb the ability to feel joy. And so once you numb one thing, it numbs everything. Right? And so I’d lost my joy. I’d lost my joy in my work, I lost my joy in my family. I lost my joy in everything because I was empty, in and of myself. I felt all these things. So you’re pastoring at church, and you’re just trying to discover, why am I feeling this way? And it wasn’t until I came across Kelly Flanagan’s book, who was just on your show, which is awesome. That book generally saved my life. That book and my therapist, Andy Martin, helped save my life.
Rob Dale [00:18:11]:
It was interesting. Yeah, Flanagan’s book. I remember you, and I was actually eric was there. There was a number of us there in Nashville having a conversation over a couple of glasses of Wild Turkey. And you brought up that book. You were the one that introduced Lovable to me. And at the time, I wasn’t ready to read it. And I’ve shared that story. I’ve shared it with Kelly that I wasn’t ready. The first time I read it, I put it down. It was too Christian for me. And he talks about that notion on there. But that idea oftentimes, and so much of us, our identity and our acceptance is wrapped up in what we do. And we think that it starts with finding purpose. Finding meaning is all about the things that we do, the way that we make an impact in other people’s lives. And that’s what’s important if we want to matter. The shift in that, the flipping that on its back, where you start to say no, you have to start with loving yourself. And out of loving yourself, finding the community that supports you, and then the purpose out of that. Talk to us a little bit about how that shift happened for you and how you began to turn to the notion of loving yourself before finding purpose in what you do.
Jason Spears [00:19:40]:
Yeah, I cracked that book open in Brisbane, Australia, in a coffee shop, and I read the first two, three chapters, and it was like, he’s putting language around everything that I was feeling. And it made so much sense. Like, I’m literally I’m sobbing. I’m, like, visibly shaken, weeping in this coffee shop. And this sweet lady comes over. She’s like, sir, are you okay? And I’m like, no, I’m not.
Rob Dale [00:20:12]:
I’m not okay.
Jason Spears [00:20:13]:
I’m not okay at all. And she said, Can I do anything for you? I was like, no.
Rob Dale [00:20:19]:
Can you put some whiskey in that coffee?
Eric Deschamps [00:20:21]:
I hear it.
Jason Spears [00:20:23]:
But Rob would approve of drinking this early but it started there in that coffee shop, like, I was realizing and coming to the conclusion that I have been on this treadmill, not going anywhere, not really producing anything other than just continuing to reinforce this hole in my heart. Because my original wound wasn’t healed. I continually felt like I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough as a dad, a husband, a pastor, a coach, nothing. I wasn’t enough, period. So I didn’t understand my own worth. And so imagine this. Imagine spending 20 years of your life trying to find your own worth and value in the belonging and in the purpose. And I tried to find those two things within the context of helping people, when in fact, I was trying to help other people. And I feel like I did help a lot of people, but it was actually my own self I was trying to needing to help, right? And I was loving people at their lowest points in their life, but secretly hating myself. And it wasn’t until I read that book, I took a million pages of notes. It felt like I took them into my therapist’s office, and he asked me a couple of questions, and that memory of when I was seven years old popped back up.
Eric Deschamps [00:22:07]:
Jason Spears [00:22:08]:
And it was that I I can take you to the spot. I can remember it like it was yesterday. When that memory came up in that counseling session with I was like, that’s my original wound. That’s it, right? You’re really not a part of this family. So I spent my whole adult life trying to make everyone feel belonging and community and connectedness, and that was my purpose. But even though that was wonderful intentions, it didn’t fill the void in my heart and soul, and it didn’t heal me. So no matter how good your intentions are to help and serve people, it’s never intended to heal you. And I just remember I literally fell out on the floor and I wept. And that sweet, kind man jumped out of his chair, and he put his arms around me, and he kept saying this. He said, you’re a good man, Jason Spears. You’re a good man, Jason. You’re a good man. And things in my life, we’ve all made mistakes, and we all have regrets. But in that moment, he was writing down things I was saying about myself. And once I composed myself, I sat back up in the chair. He had this little bitty chair. He pulled up. He said, can you remember your seven year old cell? I said yeah. Do you remember what you look like? I’m like, yeah. Oh, of course I do. My mother posts it every throwback Thursday on Facebook. There’s always I can’t forget what I look like as a kid.
Eric Deschamps [00:23:54]:
Neither can we.
Rob Dale [00:23:55]:
Jason, we love your bunk. We tie your bump. We kind of would like to be.
Eric Deschamps [00:23:58]:
Able to forget what you look like as a child, but she just keeps reminding us it’s awesome.
Jason Spears [00:24:04]:
The worst day in my life was when my mom got on Facebook. Worlds are colliding. And I’m like, oh, my gosh, it’s like Christmas every Thursday. That’s what my friends say.
Eric Deschamps [00:24:17]:
So much material to work with.
Jason Spears [00:24:19]:
He had those words written down that I was saying about myself. Those were the scripts. And he said, I want you to take this, and I want you to look at that little chair right there. Imagine your seven year old self in there, and I want you to start saying that to that seven year old self. And I’m like, Dude, he said, how old is your son? And my son was about that age. And he goes, imagine taking this language and saying that over him and saying it to him, looking him dead in the eye, saying it and believing it. And I said that’s asinine I would never do that. He goes, well, then why do you tell your four year old self that every single day?
Eric Deschamps [00:24:56]:
Wow. It’s almost just a little surreal. Jason, I’m listening to you tell your story. I’ve heard a lot of your story. You know, I’ve had the opportunity to share that over the years. And although we’re not kind of in the same circles anymore, you remain a dear friend that I always admire. But I’m listening to you talk about your story, and you might as well be quoting excerpts from my episode where I say the same, almost exactly verbatim the same thing. And from the deep self loathing to trying to satisfy this gaping hole through the things that I did. And yet, no matter how much I tried, I just felt emptier and more like a fraud and more like although all this stuff I was saying was meaningful for other people, it didn’t apply to me that somehow I was just the exception to the rule. Just amazing that you overcame so much of that. What did loving yourself. When you talk about beginning to accept yourself, you go through those moments, that memory returns to you. You have your therapist repeat to you over and over again, you’re a good man. You’re a good man. With brought back memories of gyms saying the same thing to me years ago, except in my story, jim was trying to tell me that he was my mentor, that you’ve heard lots about Jason. I know, and yet I kept looking at him and saying, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe he finally gave up and said, it’s okay. I’ll just keep reminding you till you finally do. But what did act like the act of loving yourself, accepting yourself and letting go of some of that baggage actually look like? What were some steps you took? What were some moments that were significant for you? Talk to us about that.
Jason Spears [00:26:46]:
I think first and foremost, like for me, it came down to forgiveness and forgiving other people and also forgiving the last person that we tend to forgive, and that’s ourselves. I remember when I was 21, I got to meet my biological mom, and I never got to meet my biological dad. He died when I was two years old. He was trying to rob a pharmacy, and he got shot on the way out, and he died on the front steps of the emergency room. He bled out. I never got to meet him. I was, like, two when that happened.
Eric Deschamps [00:27:31]:
Jason Spears [00:27:32]:
But I got to meet my biological mom. And I just remember I had some questions that I wanted some answers, and I just wanted to hear from her. What was it like and why and what were the situation scenarios around you feeling like you couldn’t raise me? And I wanted to have answered, why wasn’t I wanted? Why didn’t you all want me? And so we spent the weekend, a couple of days, connecting. And I just remember she asked one time, she said, could you ever, ever forgive me? And I just remember I’d forgiven her a long time ago, like, when I was a kid, I got a teenager. I never felt bitterness because I always felt I told her, I said, Look, I forgave you a long time ago, and I just want you to know I never ever because of what you all did for me, I never, ever spent a day of my life not knowing a mother’s love.
Eric Deschamps [00:28:34]:
Jason Spears [00:28:35]:
So thank you. So it’s been a lot of forgiveness. It’s been a lot of releasing that pain and hurt and original wounds, and forgiveness is a huge piece to it. R. T. Kendall said this about forgiveness. He said, True forgiveness, you know, you’ve truly forgiven someone when you refuse to continue to punish them. That was very profound for me. And even though I couldn’t forgive my uncle, even though I because he’d passed, so I couldn’t have a conversation with him and get things right or out in the open or anything like that, but I sat in a chair and just felt deeply all of those thoughts and feelings around that moment. I went back to that, and I felt that, and they said, I forgive you for creating in me this idea that I wasn’t enough and that I wasn’t wanted. I also to start loving myself and seeing my own worth and value. I started forgiving myself for ways that I hurt people throughout the years. Because even though you have good intentions, and even though you want to help people to belong, and you have your own purpose, and you want people to feel loved and valued, and even though you don’t feel that, ultimately, like clagging says, he goes, it’ll devolve into you, trying to get from other people the love that makes you feel worthy. And ultimately you’ll bleed on people who never cut you. And I did that, and I have had a lot of regrets and shame and guilt around a lot of the ways I’ve hurt people in my life. And it was ever intended, but it just happened because I wasn’t stealed and whole myself. Right. So forgiving myself and releasing myself from that has been a huge piece to that. I was just sharing this story in Vegas, and I had a lady come up to me and say she had tears rolling down her face. She said jason. She goes, I was the birth mom. Wow. I was the birth mom. I gave my daughter away 31 years ago. She found me a couple it was an open adoption. She found me a couple of years ago, and we’ve reconnected, and she told me, she goes, I forgive you. I don’t hold any bitterness or resentment towards you. But she said, I still carry that myself, the shame and the guilt. And I just tried to share with her. A lot of times, the last person on Earth we choose to forgive is ourself. And I said, really? You did the most brave and courageous thing that anybody could do, because in that moment, you didn’t feel like you could adequately give her the love and care and attention that she needed, and you gave her to somebody who could.
Eric Deschamps [00:31:41]:
Jason Spears [00:31:41]:
That’s powerful. And so she was like, I need to start that process, I think, forgiving yourself, for a lot of things that happen in life and decisions we make and choices we make, that’s really the first step. And that’s been part of my healing journey as well.
Rob Dale [00:32:00]:
We use the language of radical self acceptance, and it’s part of the framework. When Eric first introduced that and he talked about the language you talked about the language of radical self acceptance. Not just self acceptance, but radical. And that’s the foundation, I believe, of anyone truly being able to live their best life. The whole living richly model, if you will, is based on at the foundation of it is this radical self acceptance which includes a huge part of that is forgiveness of self of being able to get to that point. Where you release all of that guilt and shame and all of the struggles, everything that you carry with you is the starting point of this journey into living. Richly is this radical self acceptance. And for you to be at that point and to embrace that and want a story to how you’ve interacted and affected people’s lives. Of course, after you began to do that, once you began to accept yourself, forgive yourself, love yourself and begin to get centered on that, everything went great after that and you never had another struggle and everyone accepted it around you and nothing changed in your life. Right.
Eric Deschamps [00:33:20]:
I said some sarcasm in Rob’s statement there, right?
Jason Spears [00:33:25]:
Yeah. Through all that process, you’re trying to sort things out. You’re trying to figure out who you really are. And unfortunately, I lost my marriage after 20 years, and. Look, I was going through a divorce. I got COVID. I had to give my dog away. I was like, I need to move back to Nashville and start writing country music. Seriously. That was probably the darkest point. So I’m beginning to heal. And then all of this stuff hits you at once. And I didn’t see my kids for, like, a month and a half just because and I got COVID right out of the gate. So March of 20, I got it. So I’m in the middle of a divorce, and I lost my community. I lost my marriage. I lost my community. I lost my health. I had 104 fever for ten days. I should have been in the hospital, but our hospital was overrun. Like, we were on Anderson Cooper on CNN every night for two straight weeks. Little Albany, Georgia, because it was us in New York City. We were the hotspots in the States, and we lost people at our work, staff members, employees. Employees lost their spouses. I mean, I lost friends here. It was brutal. I just remember I was sitting there by myself, and I had some incredibly, incredibly kind people. Like, there was a guy, he was a doctor in town. He’s a cardiovascular guy, and he also owns a brewery. But it’s a great guy to know. Angry guy to be friends with. But he shifted his brewery into making hand sanitizer, and so they were doing all that during COVID and it was bad. I was posting stuff because we had people going, oh, it’s not real. But I just wanted to bring awareness to people. This is real. I mean, I felt horrible. I just remember, like, I couldn’t leave the house. And but he texted me one night, he goes, hey, I feel like I need to come see you and check on you. I’m like, I got COVID. He goes, yeah, I’m a doctor. Whatever. I thought you made beer. But he comes in, like, full hazmat. And you all know me. I’m a people guy. I love people. Hug and love and all that, but I hadn’t seen a human being in, like, two weeks in quarantine, and just Tyler sick. And I just remember when he walked in my house, he pulled up my ottoman and said I could barely get up off the couch to sit up, and he said, hey, buddy. And he checked my vitals, and my heart had a stethoscope and everything. And he did that, and he put his hand on my shoulder, and he said, Budy, are you scared? And I said, Absolutely, I am. And he goes, well, you’re going to be okay, because you’re going to make it. You’re going to be all right. Probably another day or two, you’re going to turn on the corner. He brought me some medicines and stuff. Who knows what they were. It was probably, of course, tranquilizers, because I slept for age. But he said, I just want you to know I’m here and you’re going to be okay. And that connection, that community piece, that belonging, I wasn’t forgot. That was cool. So I lost my marriage and I had wonderful friends and people like yourself and Steve Osmond, who was constantly checking in. And Steve was like, Spearsy, I’m going to ask you three questions every time I call you. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you drinking enough water? Not just booze? And are you spending quality time with people who love you? And just that whole recovery process was just that was painful, the sense of loss. And Steve said something to me that was very helpful and quite profound. I lost my family and I lost my family. He said, no, you didn’t. He said, no, you didn’t. He said, you lost your marriage, but you didn’t lose your family. And that was huge. Yeah, I’ve got five kids, Rob. I know it’s hard to keep up with. I got five. And you mentioned three. Yes. I used to get up and say when I was introducing myself in a public speaking setting, I was like, I got four wonderful kids, and then another kid. And they would hear that and go, which one were you talking about? You all just decide.
Eric Deschamps [00:38:53]:
It depends on how you behave today.
Jason Spears [00:38:55]:
Yeah, that’s right. But, yeah, you still get your kids and they love you and you’re a wonderful dad. So you’re on this healing journey, but you’re still experiencing loss and pain and hurt and all those things. And I remember as a pastor, I would sit on Sunday afternoons and I would get my phone and I would just scroll Facebook and Twitter to get that validation from people. Today was great. The message was awesome, Jason’s, amazing and all those things. And I needed all that to feed my soul with all of that and the healing journey that I’m on. And then you add on all that other stuff, COVID seriously, I almost died. And divorce and all those things, the sense of loss and the loss of community. Through all of that, I found myself and I found who I really am. And I’m honestly more comfortable in my own skin right now than I ever have been in my life. And so I can show up how I show up to people and how I show up for people now, I can give to them and genuinely not expect anything in return. And I can just walk away knowing that I served humanity and did my best and I can leave it at that without having to have any other outside validation. And that’s been a huge component of my journey thus far.
Eric Deschamps [00:40:36]:
What a powerful statement to make. And I think I remember saying this to you several months ago. Now that almost verbatim. I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin than I do now. And like you, Jason, having to walk through the healing process and overcome and forgive others and forgive myself and then still walking through difficult moments in life that are very taxing and very challenging. But what’s interesting is through all the pain, this beautiful gift of your true self emerges. You said something several minutes ago, and I don’t want us to lose sight of it because when you were talking about forgiveness and forgiving others, forgiving yourself, you talked about getting present to the weight of it, the pain of it, the hurt and almost grieving it. So many people, to your point about numbing and distracting and avoiding and doing all we can to actually run away from that stuff because it feels so painful and scary and heavy and overwhelming. The numbing takes place. And it’s just interesting that at some point it seems that life serves up a series of events and circumstances where our ability to numb can’t keep up with the degree of perhaps pain and difficulty that we’re facing with. But there’s so many of our listeners, especially, I think, of the men that are listening, that we talk about feeling. There’s a saying you can’t forgive what you can’t feel or you got to feel it to forgive it. You got to feel it to let go of it. Talk to us about if you might, and then I want to hear this story. There’s a powerful story you shared with us that I know our listeners don’t want to miss out on because it’s so, so powerful. But talk to us for a moment about what it was like for you to get present to what you had to let go of, that others had done and most importantly, how you got present to both feeling and releasing the stuff that you were holding against yourself.
Jason Spears [00:42:43]:
I think it’s just allowing yourself to get honest and being honest with yourself, not faking it anymore for the sake of other people, but just being honest. This is where I’m at. Leaning into it and allowing yourself to lean into it, that’s a hard thing because it’s like, all right, I’m going to do the hard work here, and if I lean into this, what am I really going to discover? And that’s almost more painful and frightening and creating this fear factor that, okay, what am I really going to unearth here? And how am I going to process that in that moment? I think that’s why we don’t I think that’s why we choose to just fake it till we make it and numb, walk away from it, leave it all. Because I don’t want that to affect other people too. Because if I unearth all this, there’s no telling how long I’m going to have to process this, what’s it going to look like, what’s it going to take. I could impact other people, my relationship with other people by how I’m dealing with this and forcing myself to deal with it. And that’s a part of it, too. And I think that was one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t for so long, because I was afraid of how all of dealing with all that was going to impact other people, right. And overcoming that fear of, listen, I can’t show up for people. I was the wounded healer for the longest time. I just finally said, you know what? I can’t help other people unless I first learn to help myself. Put your mask on first, right, and do that. And I just had to face my fear. I had to face my fear of what I was going to discover about myself and really what was underneath there. And when I did discover that, it wasn’t as bad as what I thought it was going to be, right?
Rob Dale [00:45:02]:
Yeah. So true. So we talk often, living richly, living your best. This is a journey. And I remember we reached out to you and we said, hey, would you be on the show? And we’d love to have you on and share your story. And you said yes, and then you followed up after you said yes with, hey, guys, I’ve got to tell you something. And this was a moment, and we’ve been kind of teasing it out because it really is a full circle moment for you. So I’m just going to hand it over to you. Let’s hear a little bit about what happened after the conversation began for you to be on the podcast.
Jason Spears [00:45:46]:
Yeah, well, my whole life was centered around why didn’t anybody really want me? And the idea of not being wanted and then having that addiction of the need to be wanted. Right. The connection with people and all those things. And it really stemmed from I really wish I knew, because my biological dad died when I was two, right. So I never got a chance to talk to him. I never got a chance to hear from him as to why, in his own words, I always wanted to be able to ask him, why didn’t you want me? Or why couldn’t you? And last year, through some tragic news, his sister, my biological aunt, reached out and shared some things with me, and she said, Jason, we moved to Florida, and I found something that I was going to wait to give you until you were older, but I thought I lost it. And it was a handwritten letter that my dad had wrote me just when he was giving me away. And she said, I found it, and she sent it to me. And it was absolutely unbelievable because walking through this whole healing process and journey of discovering that I am worthy to be loved and I am worthy and leaving all of the guilt and shame behind, the guilt of things that I did the shame of things that were done to me and all that. I get this letter and I want to read it to you.
Rob Dale [00:47:47]:
Jason Spears [00:47:47]:
It says, even though you cannot speak and tell me how you feel, I can see it in your little eyes that your love for me is real. I haven’t known you for very long, but I’ll tell you, I’m very glad for you to be a son of mine and for me to be your dad. So when you grow up and have to choose between one or the other, just remember, you’re never alone. There’s dad, mother, and brother. I love you, Jason. Dad.
Eric Deschamps [00:48:24]:
Jason Spears [00:48:25]:
And that was incredible. Amazing timing for someone who had wrestled with his whole life trying to figure out why he wasn’t wanted. As a little kid, as a baby, I got a letter basically from the grave, 40 at the time, 44 years later, that said, yeah, I always wanted to know why my dad didn’t want me. But that letter just proved to me that he always did right, that what.
Eric Deschamps [00:49:02]:
They did was a tremendous act of courage, right?
Jason Spears [00:49:04]:
Courage to make courage and bravery to give me something that they knew at the time they couldn’t provide. But that didn’t mean just because they did that, it didn’t mean that he didn’t love me, that he didn’t want me and all those things. So I spent my whole life wondering why he didn’t, only to realize that he always did.
Eric Deschamps [00:49:28]:
So powerful. So powerful. We’re about out of time for today’s show. I feel like we could just talk all day and hopefully can get you back for future episodes as a guest again. But there’s so many people that I know are listening to the show even now and can resonate with so much of what you’re saying in terms of how they feel about themselves and the burdens that they’re carrying and the self loathing that perhaps they’re struggling with. If you were to have an audience of one and be able to speak to them directly right now, which you can through the podcast, what would be your word of encouragement to our listeners as we prepare to wrap up for today?
Jason Spears [00:50:11]:
Allow yourself to lean into your original wound and begin the process of getting that thing healed. Realizing that you are enough, realizing that your worth is not tied to who or what you belong to or what your purpose is in life, but your worth, it’s intrinsic value that you have and forgiving other people, forgiving yourself. And when you do that, when you rediscover how? Because there was a time that you believed it, right? There was a time that you believed it. But when you rediscover that you are worthy and that you are lovable, that your belonging, when you show up for people, it’s going to be even more meaningful. And don’t be afraid to tell your story. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Don’t be afraid to connect with other people around it. And you’ll really discover maybe even rediscover your purpose. The belonging and the purpose piece won’t be something that you’re in search of to validate yourself. But it’ll be something that you show up for. And people will love you even more for how you show up for them because you’re living out of your true, authentic life. And really, that’s what living richly means to me.
Rob Dale [00:51:53]:
Jason, thank you. Thank you for joining us and being a part of today’s episode. Thank you for your vulnerability, your willingness to really just to take us into this journey with you. And powerful, for sure. Some of you, many of you that are listening today I know will be impacted and are probably just taking a moment to catch, get a breath and clear your eyes a little. And you may be thinking of someone else who really might resonate with this story, someone who might benefit from just hearing Jason’s words. We want to encourage you to, as we do each and every episode, to not only just like and subscribe to the channel, but also to share out the episode, to share it with some people, tag some people that you think would just really connect and resonate with Jason’s story. It’ll do them just some wonderful opportunity to just let them grow and to learn as well. So I encourage you to do that.
Eric Deschamps [00:52:58]:
We all encourage you to go to our website, Livingrichley Me Act. You can find all kinds of resources. We’ll put all of Jason’s information in today’s episode, Show Notes. But you can find out about everything from signing up to a newsletter to signing up for coaching programs that we have. Sometimes we just need that other person in our lives to help us process some of this pain, some of this trauma to overcome and make sense of what we’re trying to work through. So we want to make that available to you. But we’re so glad that you joined us today, jason, this has been absolutely phenomenal. I knew it would be, and certainly not disappointing. We look forward to having you back, and we wish you all the best in your ongoing journey of living your best life. And to all those of you listening, thanks for tuning in today, and we’ll see you next week.
Jason Spears [00:53:48]: