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Today we have Damon Stoddard joining us on The SHAIR Podcast, the author of Pain Drives Change.
Damon Stoddard adds value to people’s lives. He recently authored his first book, “Pain Drives Change,” his personal story of God’s redemptive power. He built a thriving small groups ministry as a volunteer at his church and led a men’s ministry. He currently serves on the board of directors for one of the largest Christian junior football programs in Washington State. While at Microsoft, Damon won numerous awards for his work in Hardware Quality including Xbox and Surface. He and his wife Debbie live in Seattle and have four children.
“On January 13, 1999 I placed my video camera on a tripod and began video journaling the season of my life that transformed me into the man I am today. I had just separated from my wife and moved into a small house in the slums of South Seattle. I had no idea how much emotional pain I’d be facing in the years to come and I had no idea that I’d need this pain to turn me into the man God created me to be. For some reason I knew that I wanted to immortalize this season of my life through my video journal and so I began.”
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Damon Stoddard: My favorite quote is “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results that you’re getting.” What I’ve done with my life is, I’ve got a lot of predictability in my life. I get up the same time in the morning, I exercise, I spend time with God, spend time with my wife. I work at Microsoft, my second time around, I’ve been here 13 years.
Damon Stoddard: When I go home and I enjoy the dream that I never dreamed was possible with my family, my two younger kids, my daughter and my older stepdaughter. Pretty fantastic life, honestly. Loving it.
Omar: I love the family life, man. It’s just, the predictability. We were just talking about that, it brings so much peace into our lives.
Damon Stoddard: Yeah, absolutely.
Omar: One of the first things you mentioned was, spend time with God. One of my questions is, do you maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact, with a higher power?
Damon Stoddard: Yeah, that’s a great question. First of all, I’m Christian so I have a church that I go to every week. My wife is Christian, we’ve been married nearly twelve years. We try to pray everyday together. We came across a statistic a long time ago that says that couples that pray together, the chances of divorce are less than 1 in a 1000. Where as normal couples it’s 1 in 2. We make that a high, high priority in our lives. I also pray in the mornings, I read my bible quite regularly … Probably the biggest of this is fellowship. I’m involved with a men’s group, we meet every couple weeks on Skype and we hold each other very, very accountable to living balanced lives. We call each other out when things aren’t working right.
Omar: I love it, I love it. The statistic again, you’re saying that statistically if a couple prays together on a daily basis, their chance of divorce is 1% or less than 1%?
Damon Stoddard: It’s less than 1 in a 1000, .1%.
Omar: Oh my god, listeners, that is food for thought. Bringing this up to my wife tonight.
Damon Stoddard: Yeah, the other piece about that is that my wife and I are on our second marriage, and the divorce rate for second marriages with children is nearly 70%. I’d like to think that our prayer life and our shared spiritual life, common values, common dreams, are a big piece of why we’re successful.
Omar: Man, that is just wonderful. Okay, so you guys are both already been married and divorced one time.
Damon Stoddard: Yes, that’s correct.
Omar: Okay, all right, I didn’t know that. Not for nothing, but … Oh, or maybe it’s because I’m married a second time too. They say that the second time around is the one, right? Once you get the trial marriage out of the way then the second marriage is the one that you’ve learned all your mistakes from, or, is that noth-
Damon Stoddard: Yeah, a lot of my stories is about my first marriage and the problems that we had and all the things that I tried to do to overcome it. After that marriage failed, I remember that … Thinking of that quote that I just shared with you, your system is perfectly designed to give you the results that you’re getting and I thought, my system has really done a good job at producing terrible relationships, a terrible marriage. I think maybe I want to change my system.
Damon Stoddard: I tried something completely different, I actually talk about that in the book, but I tried something completely different and found the most incredible woman and couldn’t be happier.
Omar: Tell us how our listeners can get your book.
Damon Stoddard: Yeah, so what I’ve done is I’ve set up a landing page for your listeners, it’s just paindriveschange.com/share. Then go up there I got a special offer there, the 10 steps that I just talked to you about if they sign up they can get … I’ll send them a series of e-mails. Give you chapter 1 of the book free. I wrote a goal setting course, I talked a little bit about the goal setting course but I’m going to give that away and you’ll find a link in there to buy a book. I’m not trying to make any money on the book. If you buy the book and you know somebody that’s in pain, I’ll give you a book and you can give the other book to somebody that it’ll help.
Omar: Wonderful, wonderful. Okay guys, I’m going to have that listed in the show notes, that’s www.paindriveschange.com/share. Again, that’ll be in the show notes. Do you do any social media? Facebook, Twitter, are you on there?
Damon Stoddard: I am. I’m not super active on it yet honestly. I’m on your Facebook though, and I love it, it’s fantastic.
Omar: Well good, I appreciate that. The private group has helped a lot of people stay accountable.
Damon Stoddard: Yeah.
Omar: That’s for sure. At the beginning of the episode you talk about how your mother recently passed away in December. How are you coping with that?
Damon Stoddard: I’ll tell you what, let me tell you this story. Laid off of Microsoft in July, didn’t know what I’m going to do, and I decided I’m going to write this book, so I pulled out those video tapes and I didn’t have anyway to play ’em, right? My son and I went yard sale-ing and we found a Hi8 video camera for 7 bucks.
Omar: Oh wow.
Damon Stoddard: Put those tapes in the Hi8 video camera and I started watching ’em, 4 hours later, I couldn’t project it on my TV, but 4 hours later I came up after looking through that little scope, the camera, I said, “I gotta write this book.” The next day I start writing and a couple of days later, one of my routines that I exercise in the morning, I was up running, I was listening to some music and I just had this inspiration that I had to call my mom. I had to say, “Hey Mom, I’m writing a book,” and I had to ask her to write a letter for the book. I called her and said, “Mom, would you write a letter?” She says, “You know, Grandma always said I was going to be a writer. I’ve never written, I’d love to write a letter.” I ended up spending the next 3 to 4 months with my mom, listening to her story, writing a letter, reading her my book, talking about the past, healing from the past … It turns out I still had some residual stuff.
The neat thing about that story, her letter is in the first chapter of the book. She read it to me, it was one of the last letters she wrote with her hands that were so shaky, she couldn’t write. After this was all said and done, I said, “Mom, you made a lot of mistakes but your sins are forgiven as far as the east is from the west. You don’t have to carry it anymore.” I said, “Is there anybody in your life that you’ve offended that you need to ask forgiveness for before you die.” She said, “You know, my relationship with your older daughter isn’t so good, and my relationship with your Dad isn’t so good. I need to ask for forgiveness.” I think maybe the last letter she wrote, she wrote to my sister and said, “I’m getting old, I made a lotta mistakes, I’m very, very sorry for all the stuff that happened to you as a teenager, will you please forgive me?”
My sister sent her a text a couple of weeks later saying, “You’re forgiven.” Two weeks later, my mom went into the hospital and to make a long story short, the last night that I visited her, she asked me, “Hey Son, is that book a best seller?” I said, “Not yet Mom, but it’s gonna be. If it’s God’s will it will be.” She says, “I love you Son, I’m proud of you.” Those were the last 2 words I ever heard from my mom, she always told me that. The next morning, the doctor called, told me mom had passed away in her sleep, and the next morning I woke up really early and I went to the hospital. I talked to the nurses that were with my mom when she died. Their names were Faith and Grace. My mom died with Faith and Grace by her side.
Omar: Oh man.
Damon Stoddard: Yeah.
Omar: You couldn’t make this stuff up if you wanted to.
Damon Stoddard: I know, I know, is it just crazy? Absolutely crazy?
Omar: Oh, what a beautiful story man.
Damon Stoddard: Yeah, yeah, it was fantastic. I am so blessed to have spent that 5 months with my mom, unbelievable. Now I work at Microsoft again, have a better job than I had, work in the same building. I think God wanted me to write this book and spend that time with my mom.
Omar: That’s exactly what he wanted you to do, there is no question about it. Man, what an absolute … Beautiful story and it’s God inspired, there’s no question about it as far as I’m concerned. God walked you through that entire process for all of you. For your mom, for your daughter, for your Dad, for you. What a beautiful way for her to pass on.
Damon Stoddard: Yeah, and you know what’s interesting? What my mom did? We found journals that she wrote, and my mom struggled with anxiety. She struggled every single day with anxiety and we went through her journal, every single journal she started the same way. She said, “Dear Jesus, thank you for,” something. “Thank you for the sun. Thank you that I got ice cream last night. Thank you that I could walk to the store.” Didn’t matter how bad her life was, it was always starting with “Thank you,” and she would end them with “Guide and protect my family.” 20, 25 years she did that.
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Thanks again for your SHAIR, Damon!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.