God’s Power Over Wrong Choices: Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and WWE’s Marc Mero
Former WWE wrestlers Ted DiBiase and Marc Mero learned just how powerful our choices could be: they can either leave us empty, or allow us to be used by God for His good. Wrestling fans may know Ted DiBiase as “The Million Dollar Man,” but today, we get a look at the man behind the persona. Ted looks back on how his father, who was also a wrestler, influenced Ted to pursue the sport he loved. As Ted rose through the ranks and became a world-famous wrestler, he reveals how he got caught up in a destructive lifestyle that led him to the brink of losing everything that really mattered to him. A talented athlete from an early age, Marc Mero always had dreams of being in professional sports. As he acquired all the things he had dreamed of since he was a little boy—fame, wealth, status—he quickly realized his choices had consequences. After he recognized he’d been dreaming of the wrong things, Marc took a long, hard look at what he was living for.
Ted DiBiase: We talk about committing our life to Christ. But before you can commit your life to Christ, you have to surrender it first. And you’re either all in or you’re not in. You’re either totally in or you’re not in. It’s a total commitment. He has got to become the number-one priority and the number-one relationship in your life.
“But before you can commit your life to Christ, you have to surrender it first. And you’re either all in or you’re not in.” – Ted DiBiase
God’s Power Over Wrong Choices: Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and WWE’s Marc Mero – Episode #141
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today’s guests are two men who have learned about the power of choices, because our choices can either leave us empty or allow us to be used by God for His good: former WWE wrestlers Ted DiBiase and Marc Mero.
Wrestling fans may know Ted DiBiase as “The Million Dollar Man,” but today, we get a look at the man behind the persona. Ted looks back on how his father, who was also a wrestler, influenced Ted to pursue the sport he loved. As Ted rose through the ranks and became a world-famous wrestler, he reveals how he got caught up in a destructive lifestyle that led him to the brink of losing everything that really mattered to him.
Gaining a Legacy of Faith and Hard Work
Ted DiBiase: Hi, everybody. I’m Ted DiBiase, better known to some of you, if you’re a wrestling fan, as The Million Dollar Man of World Wrestling Entertainment. I had a wrestling career that spanned some 19 years actively and another 6 years behind the scenes as a manager/commentator, so a 25-year career. For the last 18, almost 19 years, I’ve been in full-time evangelism. I’m a father, husband, and most of all, a follower of Jesus Christ.
My biological father’s name was Ted Wills. He was a professional singer, and he and my mom, I can’t remember what year they married, but I was two years old when they divorced. And when they divorced, I went back to southern Arizona, where my grandparents had moved from Nebraska. This is my mother’s parents. My grandmother ran a truckstop.
Wilcox, Arizona, I’m telling you, has three traffic lights. I don’t think it has maybe one or two more now all these years later, but it’s a little town. And so I’m there from the age of 2 to 5, living with my grandmother. And I remember kindergarten a little bit, but then that’s when my mother married Mike [DiBiase] in October of 1959. So this bigger than life man comes into my life and becomes
Mike DiBiase had a huge impact on my life. He was a good dad, and as well as the wrestler. He was every bit as an athlete as an amateur as he was a professional.
And the other thing that happened as a result of being Mike DiBiase’s son was that I went to church. Now like most Italians, my dad was Roman Catholic. So I, in my early years, was raised in Catholicism. I was the award-winning altar boy. I’m the guy who showed up at the six o’clock mass when there was 4 feet of snow on the ground.
Some of the things that he instilled in me—and I when I do school assemblies, I tell kids all the time—I say, “My dad always said this: he said, ‘Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t do what everybody else is doing, because 90 percent of the time it’s no good. Be a leader, not a follower. Be the head, not the tail. If you’re willing to sacrifice, if you’re willing to pay the price, you can be anything you want to be in life. I don’t care if you want to be a drummer in rock’n’roll band. If that’s your passion, if that’s what’s in your heart, do it. Because if it’s in your heart, then you’re going to give it your all. If you’re willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be successful, you can.’”
“Be a leader, not a follower. Be the head, not the tail. If you’re willing to sacrifice, if you’re willing to pay the price, you can be anything you want to be in life.” – Mike DiBiase, Ted father
And you know, it was evident in his own life.
The summer between my ninth grade and my sophomore year, when I was in high school, we went back to Texas. And that’s the summer my dad died: July 2, 1969.
He wrestled in Lubbock Texas, which is about 100 miles south of Amarillo. [My mom and I] had gone to see a friend of mine play baseball, a guy who had gone to school with and had developed a friendship with back when I was in the sixth grade.
They dropped us off, and I remember when I got there, these two ladies that were very close with my mom whose husbands were wrestlers [were there] and they said, “Ted, where’s your mom?”
I said, “Well, she’s taking a nap. We’ve been unpacking all day.”
“You need to wake her up.”
“What’s going on?”
“Well, we just need to wake her up.”
So I woke her up, and then one of the ladies took me down the hall outside, put me against the wall and said, “Look, we came over here to get your mom. We were going to take her to Lubbock. Your dad had a heart attack tonight in the ring, and they were taking him to the hospital. But we just received another call that he passed away.”
I mean, it was surreal. I remember that so well, it’s engraved in my memory. I remember when I stood at the plate glass window that overlooked the swimming pool and the apartment complex, and just cried. [It was an] unbelievable feeling of loss. My mother was just hysterical.
And if that weren’t enough, I watched in horror as my mother sank into despair and alcoholism.
I remember on the hard nights, a lot of weekends, I’d drive my grandmother’s old Rambler out to the cemetery, where my dad was buried, parked the car and [put the headlights] on his grave. I paced back and forth in front of that grave and cried and cried out to God. I asked God to give me help, [so I could] be the man that I wanted to be and to achieve the goals I had set. “My dad is gone. I won’t see him till eternity, but I want him to be proud. Help me. Help me to show my mom why she shouldn’t quit and give up on life.” I prayed prayers like that.
So I didn’t follow the crowd. I didn’t party and get drunk on weekends and do all that stuff.
Towards the end of my senior year of high school, that’s when the ego started to rise. I was the first kid ever graduate from this little school with a full scholarship to play Division I college football. I initially signed with Arizona, then I went to a school called West Texas State in the Texas panhandle.
Why back to Texas? A very influential wrestling family, the Funk family, were from Amarillo. I’ve known those guys all my life.
I’m watching TV one day, and I’d already signed a letter of intent to play football at Arizona State. I hadn’t seen any wrestling for three years. Since my dad’s death, I hadn’t seen any wrestling. I’m watching TV one afternoon, and wrestling comes on out of Tucson. It’s the tape out of Texas, and they’re coming to Tucson.
So I make the drive. I see these guys. I tell them what’s happened.
And one of them said, “Hey, look. Even if you’ve already decided what you want to do, I can get your recruiting trip back to West Texas State. And if nothing else, just come back and see everybody.”
So I took that trip. And in reality, that’s all it took.
The Rise to a Rockstar Life
When I got to college, the pride of life took over and I fell right in line. To make a long story short, by the time I was 26 I had failed to complete college by a year. I’d been married and divorced. I had a son from my first marriage. But by then, I had become a professional wrestler.
I had been so faithful to my convictions until God gave me what I wanted. And it’s if I said, “Gee thanks, Lord. I appreciate all your help, showing up for me when I was crying in that desert cemetery and seeing me through all of this. But I got it now. When I need you again, I’ll let you know.”
“I had been so faithful to my convictions until God gave me what I wanted.” – Ted DiBiase
Word’s getting now you know that I’ve got a lot of talent. I wrestled in MidSouth quite a bit better part of the first 12 years my career before that I’d be with the WWF.
But in ‘81 in Atlanta, Georgia, Georgia, [during a championship wrestling match], I met Melanie. Last thing I was looking for was a wife or to fall in love because I had been through a marriage that should have never happened, really. I had a son that I loved dearly but couldn’t see except on weekends and special occasions. And then because of the business I was in, I hardly saw him at all.
But Melanie [was a] Christian girl. We just hit it off. I mean, that was like from day one and we didn’t do everything right either.
Three months after we’re married, she’s pregnant. Three years later is when I got that call from Vince [McMahon]. WrestleMania III had just taken place, and they had set an indoor world attendance record: 93,000 people. I remember looking at the front page and thinking, If I’m going to be relevant in wrestling, that’s where [I need to be]. I saw what was happening.
When he contacted me, he said, “I’ve got an idea, Ted, and it’s never been done. One thing everybody hates is a guy who, by virtue of his wealth, thinks he’s better than everybody and looks down his nose at people. He’s a bully. He bullies people with his wealth. In reality, all bullies are cowards. You know, you never get tired of seeing a bully get his butt kicked.”
And I said, “You’re right.”
He said, “Well, that’s the essence of this character. In an effort to market this character, we’re going to try to make the public believe you’re really rich.”
I said, “Well, how are you going to do that?”
He said, “We’re going to fly you everywhere first class. Sometimes that’s going to mean you’ll have private jet service. You’re going to have limousine service every day. You’ll stay in only the finest hotels. We’re even going to give you flash cash. This guy walks in the room and counts out $2,000 and random $100 bills. Here’s what I want you to do. Now, if you abuse this, you’ll lose it. But if you do it right, this will travel like fire. Pick your spots. Go into a restaurant. Get up and announce yourself, and tell everybody, “It’s your lucky day. The Million Dollar Man’s picking up the tab!”
I knew when Vince offered me this opportunity, that’s what I needed to do and become the character.
I said, “I’m your guy. I’ll sign the contract.”
The money was all written off as marketing. That’s what it was do it. And you talk about social media, forget it. That word travels like wildfire. “This guy is really loaded.” So you can imagine.
Oh my gosh, I went from driving my own car to riding around in limousines and Lear jets and rising to a level of fame that nobody foresaw. And I mean, we were literally like rockstars. We were living like rockstars.
Realizing Choices Have Consequences
WrestleMania VIII took place in Indianapolis, Indiana, in March 1992. I was at the height of my fame. I mean, Lear jets, limousines, action figures, video games, all that stuff was starting to happen.
I went out after WrestleMania that night on the town, dressed in a tailor-made suit, beautiful girl on my arm, hit all the hot spots in Indianapolis because I’m cool. I’m The Million Dollar Man.
I don’t even go to bed. I had the limousine take me to the airport straight from a bar. Flew to Detroit, checked into the Marriott hotel, and then went to a payphone to call home. What a nice guy, huh?
Big surprise on the phone that day. On the other hand, my wife now has discovered some of what’s going on in my life. I said, “I don’t want to talk about on the phone. I’ll be the next plane home.”
She said, “No, you won’t. You don’t live here anymore.”
First words out of my mouth: “Oh God, help me.” Talk about hypocrisy. “Oh God, help me.”
Next call I made is to one of my closest friends and has been a mentor to me ever since. His name is Hal Santos.
Hal’s relationship with me was not based on performance. I didn’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops. He didn’t batter me every time he got on the phone with me. “Are you going to church, or are you doing this or are you doing that.” What I realize is the guy just loved me. He was just my friend.
He said, “Ted, Jesus said the truth will set you free. He never said it would be easy. Never said it would be painless. He said He’d set you free. He said if you’ll trust Him today, like you did when you were a kid, when you were 15 and you’d go to that cemetery, He’ll hear you. He’ll forgive you. He never left you—you left Him. And all these years, He’s been trying to draw you back.”
And even as I say to you now, and I tell this story so many times, I want to tear up and cry because of the realization there’s a God that big who could love me that much. I looked at my life and realized how many times I had abused that, just trampled the blessing. And you still love me, God?
“I want to tear up and cry because of the realization there’s a God that big who could love me that much.” – Ted DiBiase
God gives you that long, hard look in the mirror. I mean I’m at the height of my career. I’ve got everything I ever dreamed, I ever wanted. Plus I’ve got this unbelievable wife and these three beautiful children, but I have no character. I have no integrity. I don’t have the stuff that counts. And wow, that was a wakeup call.
“I’m at the height of my career. I’ve got everything I ever dreamed, I ever wanted. Plus I’ve got this unbelievable wife and these three beautiful children, but I have no character. I have no integrity. I don’t have the stuff that counts. And wow, that was a wakeup call.” – Ted DiBiase
Going in to face my wife was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was the worst and best day of my life.
I told the whole miserable truth, and watched Melanie walk out of the room in tears. She looked back at me through tears and goes, “Who are you? Where’s the guy I thought I married?”
I’m about to get what I deserve. That’s what I thought.
And it was a couple of days later, Pastor Hal asked us to join him in his youth group and his wife and his daughter on this . . . they were going to St. Louis. And it was the weekend leading into Easter Sunday.
So we got there, and I walked into this big ballroom with about 1,500 teenagers from the state of Illinois. We call it “The Ascension Convention.”
The speaker that day is a wonderful man of God—and he can bring it— named Reggie Dabs. He’s really good. And he gave his presentation, and then he came to the invitation. He said, “If you’re tired living a lie, what you need is Jesus. And I challenge you to get out of your chair and get up here now.”
Well now, this is back when I had highlighted blonde hair, dark tan. I stuck out like a neon sign. I heard it ripple through the room, and I walked in there. WrestleMania had just taken place the weekend before. “That’s The Million Dollar Man. That’s Ted DiBiase. What in the world is he doing here?”
I look back and realize that God had me there for this purpose. He wanted to see if I’d buried my pride, my ego, which had controlled my life for 20 years.
I get in front of all those kids who recognize me as a television star and supposedly a tough guy and go forward. I beat them all the front. I was the first man up there. I didn’t just go forward —I dropped to my knees, I put my nose in the carpet, and I cried like a baby. And I’ve never been the same since.
I remember saying, “God, I don’t know where we’re going. All I know is this: I don’t ever want to feel like this again. I don’t ever want to feel this lost, this low. I know you have a plan for me, and I know you’ll help me figure it out. That’s where I want to go. You take the helm of the ship. I know I’m probably going to lose my family, and that’s what I deserve. And even if I do, I’m giving you my world to take care of.”
“God, I don’t know where we’re going. All I know is this: I don’t ever want to feel like this again. I don’t ever want to feel this lost, this low. I know you have a plan for me, and I know you’ll help me figure it out. . . . You take the helm of the ship. . . . I’m giving you my world to take care of.” – Ted DiBiase
The Power in a Woman of Faith
But the biggest shock of the day for me was my wife. I did love her so much. I do love her so much.
And she said, “I’m not going to make you promise I can’t keep. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do this. But I serve a God of restoration, not divorce. I serve a God who says, ‘Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.’
“I believe that you’re sorry, Ted. Of course I want to believe that you’re sorry. And even though I believe that, I’m not sure I have the strength to stay. But because I want to be obedient to this still, small voice in my heart, I’m going to try to give you another chance.”
We’re coming up on 37 years.
I made this list of the hotels in all the cities where I would be and the phone numbers so she could check up on me. She ripped it up threw it away, and she goes “I’m not going to put you on a leash like a dog.I watched you make a commitment to Jesus Christ. That’s your watch dog. If you want to do this again, you’ll find a way. But know this: if you do, He will bring you down so fast.”
I tell you, the hair on the back of my head stood straight up. I was like, Oh my gosh. Now there’s a woman of faith.
Her faith was in Him, not me. But as Melanie began to see my life bear fruit, she saw me get up. She’d get up [from bed], and I’d be sitting at the table with a cup of coffee and one devotional after another, and she began to see me lead my family to church and lead my family in prayer
Jesus Calling, it’s one of a couple of devotions I do every morning. I use it in the morning. Sometimes I go back to it at night too.
[Here is January 14th entry from Jesus Calling:]
Let Me bless you with My grace and Peace. Open your heart and mind to receive all that I have for you. Do not be ashamed of your emptiness. Instead, view it as the optimal condition for being filled with My Peace.
It is easy to touch up your outward appearance, to look as if you have it all together. Your attempts to look good can fool most people. But I see straight through you, into the depths of your being. There is no place for pretense in your relationship with me. Rejoice in the relief of being fully understood. Talk with Me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy. Little by little, I will transform your weaknesses into strengths.
From The Million Dollar Man to Man of God
When I went back to the WWE, I mean, man. I had changed, but the environment I was in hadn’t changed it all.
By the summer of 1993 I decided, I’m getting out of here because if I don’t, it’s going to [pull] me back in.
And at the same time, the most frightening thing I ever did in my life to step out like that, walking away from the one thing I knew all my life—wrestling—and to be evangelist. And talk about a pay cut. It ain’t about money. It’s about the fruit.
Pastor Hal Santos, who is my mentor and one of my best friends, he said, “Now, there are going to a lot of pastors who find out that you’re a Christian. With all the best intentions, they’re going to want to ask you to come to the churches and share your story, your testimony. I just want to caution you right now. This is right at the beginning, and you’re a baby Christian.”
I said, “In other words, give myself time to grow.”
He said, “Exactly.”
I gave him my word that I wouldn’t go until I thought I was at a place where [I could share the gospel effectively].
And the first time I ever did, I went to a little church in Paducah, Kentucky. [Pastor Hal and I] went together and the first time I ever shared.
It was a youth group. So these kids start coming up, and Hal looks at me. I see him go. And I looked at him, and he [looked at me like], “Just go pray with somebody.”
I had never done it, not in that kind of a setting.
So I start to walk forward, I’ll never forget this kid. He had bright red hair, freckled face, hair about shoulder-length. He comes up, and before I could even open my mouth, he throws his arms around my neck, buries his head in my shoulder, and he’s crying. And he says, “All my life, my parents, my grandparents, even, tried to tell me why I needed Jesus. I just didn’t get it. When I heard your story tonight, I got it.”
Man. Even now, that was the first time . . . I mean, the light went off. Oh my gosh. God just used me to change this kid’s life.
I have wrestled in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium, and that is a pretty big thrill. Doesn’t even come close to that moment in my life.
Narrator: To learn more about Ted DiBiase, visit his website at MillionDollarMan.com. And to learn where he is speaking next and about his Heart of David Ministry, visit HeartOfDavidMinistry.com.
Stay tuned for our interview with motivational speaker and former WWE wrestler Marc Mero after a brief message about a free offer from Jesus Calling!
Want a daily reminder that we can have hope, peace and joy each day in Jesus? Now it’s as easy as opening an email. The Jesus Calling Daily Email brings you a thought from the Jesus Calling family of devotionals every day. Brighten up your inbox with this little reminder and take a minute to connect with God during your day. To sign up to get your free, daily thought from Jesus Calling, please visit Jesus Calling.com/daily-email.
Narrator: Our next guest is former WWE wrestler and now-motivational speaker Marc Mero. A talented athlete from an early age, Marc always had dreams of being in professional sports. As he acquired all the things he had dreamed of since he was a little boy—fame, wealth, status—he quickly realized his choices had consequences. After he recognized he’d been dreaming of the wrong things, Marc took a long, hard look at what he was living for.
Learning How to Go After Dreams
Marc Mero: Hi, my name is Marc Mero, and I was born in Buffalo, New York.
Grew up a big sports fan. I loved sports, and it was my passion growing up: football, hockey, boxing, lacrosse, and eventually I became a professional wrestler.
I first got introduced to hockey. I decided to play ice hockey, but the problem was I never skated before. I didn’t know how to skate! So it caused a little dilemma there.
I decide to play goalie. And the one thing about goalie is, you learn whether you have good reflexes or not very quickly. I had really good reflexes, but I couldn’t skate.
I remember trying out the team, kids would come up from behind me and hit me in the back of the skates. I’d go flying because I couldn’t keep my balance or anything, and kids would laugh and stuff. And fortunately, I had to play goalie because that’s the only position you don’t get to really skate around to be halfway decent at, as long as you make saves.
Well, not only did I makes saves, but out of 20 games, I had 13 shutouts. And at the banquet at the end of the year, they announce the MVP for the league—and not the team, the league. And they announced, “This year’s 1972 MVP is Marc Mero.”
I walked by all the kids that laughed at me, that knocked me down, that said, “You’ll never be anything because you can’t skate.” And . . . I was MVP.
I think it really motivated me. You always want to be a part of things. You always want to be liked. You want to be a good teammate or a good person. And I think because I wasn’t good at first in sports, it made me work that much harder.
“You always want to be a part of things. You always want to be liked. You want to be a good teammate or a good person. And I think because I wasn’t good at first in sports, it made me work that much harder.” – Marc Mero
[Winning MVP was] a really defining moment in my life because that summer, I learned how to skate. Next year, I became a leading scorer in the league, my first year learning how to skate. So it was a beginning of really going after dreams and goals.
Memories Are Worth the Pain
My mom and dad had my older sister Jody. I’m the middle child. And I have a younger brother named Joel.
I’ll never forget [when] I came from school, and I was 8 years old. I saw my dad’s car in the driveway, which was really unusual because my dad didn’t come home till dinnertime. And I was thinking, Oh my gosh, Dad’s home! You know, it’s really exciting.
I come running to the house, and my mother was sitting in the living room, but she had her head buried in her hands and she was crying.
So I walked up and I said, “Mom, what’s wrong?”
And she she lifted her head and tears were streaming down her cheeks and she said, “Marc, Daddy’s leaving.”
I was puzzled. I was like, Where is he going?
I ran to my mother and father’s bedroom because I heard my dad in there. And he has back to the door, but he’s putting clothes in the suitcase.
I stood in the doorway and I said, “Daddy, where are you going?”
And he was startled, but he turned around goes, “Marc, I want you to know I love you so much.”
I said, “But where are you going?”
And he said those words I never forgot. He said, “Marc, your mom and dad are no longer going to be together.”
And I remember just not understanding but understand that he was going to not come back. So I went over to his suitcase, and I grabbed the handles. I fell to my knees, and I started begging my father not to leave. I said, “Daddy, please don’t go. You’re my best friend.”
He pulled the suitcase out of my hands and he says, “Marc, don’t cry. Everything’s going to be okay.”
He walked out the door, and I was screaming, “Daddy, please don’t go. You’re my best friend.” And he was gone.
Fast forward, my dad was in the hospital with lung cancer. I remember we got a phone call at six in the morning, and they said, “You need to get here as soon as possible. Your dad needs to see you.”
I ran into the hospital, took the elevator up to his floor, and ran down the hall. When I opened the door, I could see my dad wasn’t doing good. I remember just running over and getting in the bed with him. I scooped my dad in my arms, and I was holding him. He was just looking up, and I just started crying. My tears were coming out so fast, they were hitting my father in his face where it looked like my dad was crying. The weird thing was I’d never seen my father cry. But for the first time, it looked like my dad was crying.
Then I remember what he said to me when I was a little boy. I said, “Daddy, please don’t cry. You’re my best friend. And it is going to be okay. Don’t go.”
And he died in my arms.
It was so powerful that I never forgot that. When I share that story, many people I meet that lose a loved one, especially Mom or Dad, you know . . . the pain you feel is something as hard to explain to someone unless they’ve been through it themselves. But to this day, I always say that the memories are worth the pain.
Writing Dreams into Existence
When I was a little boy, I had this book that I still carry around today to my presentations. When I was 10 years old, I’d write my dreams and goals into existence. Many of them were just aiming bigger than life. I mean, I was going to find the cure for cancer. I had all these dreams and goals that I wrote down as a little boy.
I often tell kids that failure’s not aiming high and missing. Failure’s aiming too low and hitting. And I just say, Dream big, aim high.”
“I often tell kids that failure’s not aiming high and missing. Failure’s aiming too low and hitting. And I just say, ‘Dream big, aim high.’” – Marc Mero
[When I was little, I’d write] down things like, “I’ll be a millionaire. I want a black Cadillac. I want a speedboat.”
All these dreams and goals I had as a kid would eventually come true in my life.
I’ll never forget this: I was one paycheck away from becoming a millionaire. In other words, when this paycheck hits my account, [I’ll have] seven figures, you know what I mean? I was so excited about it because all my life, I dreamed about this moment, this time I’d be a millionaire.
I remember telling my ex-wife and saying, “This week we become millionaires! Can you believe it?” We’re so excited. The check comes, I deposit at the bank and it was like, “Yes, we’re millionaires!”
You just dream that’s going to make you happy. And in reality, it seemed to cause more problems
Not only was it the beginning to the end of my marriage and my relationship. I walked away from Christ, became heavily involved in drugs again, and eventually wanted to end my life.
It was Christmas, and I remember not having any place to go. Nowhere to celebrate. I’d already lost my mother, my father, my brother, my sister. Then my wife walking to the door and divorcing me.
But Christmas Day, I decided to drive to Cocoa Beach, Florida, and I sat under the pier. I just watched the waves rolling, and I started thinking about my life. I was once rich and famous. I had millions dollars. I had it all. And here I am sitting under a pier by myself on Christmas Day.
And I remember thinking, I don’t want to be here anymore.
I retrieved my handgun, and I had this big walk-in shower. I decided to go in there and end my life. As I was standing there, it’s like my heart was pounding. I saw my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister and I just thought, Wow I just miss them so much. Everything I had is gone.
And I remember thinking, This is not where I want to go, this is not where I want anyone to go.
I fell to my knees. I pointed the gun away from me, and I just started begging God for forgiveness. I kept saying over and over, “Change who I am.” Because in my life, I was always trying to change everybody else. “You should love me more. Don’t you know how to cook dinner? What’s wrong with you? Can’t you clean the house the way I want it cleaned?” I was trying to change them. But when you realize it’s you that has to change, everything around you starts to change.
“When you realize it’s you that has to change, everything around you starts to change.” – Marc Mero
The tallest I ever stood was that day I got on my knees, and my whole life changed now. It changed overnight. I never did drugs again. The most amazing thing was I never touched an illegal drug since that day and have lived just . . . little by little things start coming back.
Sharing Your Story Helps Others
Narrator: As Marc began to rededicate his life to God, he started to see huge changes in his world. He opened his heart to his now-wife of ten years, Darlene, and together the two of them began Marc’s ministry Champion of Choices, where Marc speaks to children in schools across the United States and the rest of the globe. But Marc found that opening up about his story wasn’t always easy.
Marc Mero: I remember the first time I decided to speak to a school, one of the first times, okay? It was Lake Brantley High School. I told my wife, I said, “Darlene, if I could just touch one person’s heart, it’s worth it for me.”
And she said, “You go get ’em!”
I got up there, and I was nervous and sweating. They say the ten scariest things for a human being. Number two is death. You know what number one is? Public speaking. Yes. Yes! And I experienced it.
I started like, “I want everybody to stay away from drugs and be good.” Oh gosh, it was just horrible. Kids were all talking.
Anyway, the thing ends and my wife comes running up to the stage. And she was like, “Honey, that was great!”
I was mad at her for even saying that. I’m like, “Are you kidding? Did you just watch what I went through?” But then I thought for a second, Oh my gosh, the one heart I touched was my wife’s.
So the cool thing was, we went home and we started discussing what makes a good presentation. She goes, “Why don’t you just tell your story?” So we went got pictures of my family and video and I simply tell my story.
I do the next school, and kids are in tears. People are writing to us and we get these letters [that say], “You changed my life.” Then we got a letter [that said], “You saved my life.” And not only from the kids, the teachers and faculty were writing me. And then it just snowballed into this amazing ministry. And now we get, gosh, about 100 messages a day.
It’s such a blessing. There’s no greater joy than helping another person.
You have to relive those moments, which are not fun to go back to. But knowing, “I’m going to I’m going to help someone today. I’m going to let someone know that they’re not alone and how much they matter.” That’s what drives me. It drives me to know that God can use my story, my brokenness to help somebody else.
Man, we’re all broken in some way. We all have stuff. And when you’re not afraid to admit you have stuff and you’re not perfect and you make mistakes, someone else will go, “Man, he’s just like me. Maybe my life could turn around too.” And it does.
But at the end of the day, it really is just planting that seed and God watering it. God has a plan and purpose for each of our lives—every one of us.
We all go through hard times. We all go through storms in life. Some storms you can just walk through. Some storms you’ve got to run through. But there are storms that come through life that we have to hang on with everything we’ve got. Don’t let go, and don’t give up because I promise you, after every storm, the sun will eventually shine brighter than you could ever imagine.
“We all go through hard times. We all go through storms in life. . . . Don’t give up because I promise you, after every storm, the sun will eventually shine brighter than you could ever imagine.” – Marc Mero
I would have never seen that sunlight if I gave up. Never would’ve known all the great things God had for me later on in life: new friends, new family and marriage. I never would have met my wife Darlene. I never would have had this amazing ministry. I never would have spoken at over a thousand schools around the world.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
You have God, your spouse, family and then your ministry. You have to have an order of this thing. And I’ve been guilty of getting so caught up and trying to help others that sometimes you hurt yourself or your wife or your family. We all need time together we have to have that time.
Being on the road a lot, we always pray together. And [Darlene] would send me Jesus Calling, and we’d read together our Jesus Calling every morning. She would send it to me because she had the book with her, so she’d take a picture of it and send it to me, and we’d read together. And then, of course, we pray together.
One of the passages that really resonated with me is from July 13th. And I can read it:
I want you to experience the riches of your salvation: the Joy of being loved constantly and perfectly. You make a practice of judging yourself based on how you look or behave or feel. If you like what you see int he mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My Love. When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved child. When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward so you can correct whatever is wrong.
Instead of trying to “fix” yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the Lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me. Remember that I see you clothed in My righteousness, radiant in My perfect Love.
And I’m guilty of judging myself a little hard on myself sometimes. And when I stop worrying if I’m going to do okay today, or am I going to be able to help somebody, or did the presentation go smoothly or whatever it is, I stop beating myself up and just realize, Man, He loves me. God put me on that stage. He put me in this position in life. Stop beating yourself up.
I think many people do that. I think many people are guilty of just being too hard on themselves. And when you’re hard on yourself, you have to learn to love and value yourself because you can’t give away what you don’t have.
“Many people are guilty of just being too hard on themselves. And when you’re hard on yourself, you have to learn to love and value yourself because you can’t give away what you don’t have.” – Marc Mero
It’s so important to understand that God made you just the way He wanted, and He doesn’t make mistakes. So we all know something about us we don’t like, but God made you that way. He made you so perfectly in His eyes, and you see that radiant, perfect love.
Narrator: To learn more about Marc Mero and his Champion of Choices ministry, please visit thinkpoz.org.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we are celebrating National Pet Day and talking about the joy God gives us through animals. We’ll hear from Lavonne Redferrin, the executive director of Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue, who shared a special program that blesses puppies and people.
Lavonne Redferrin: We are partners with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department’s inmate program called Second Chances. And those are non-violent offenders, women who are incarcerated and have no history of violence. They’re usually drug charges or something to that effect. They’re trying to get their lives back in order, and they foster puppies for us.
Those puppies are such a blessing to them. Each time one is adopted, they write a letter that goes with a puppy, and invariably it will say how that animal has blessed them or taught them patience or given them something to wake up for inside those bars.
So we’re we’re thrilled with that, because obviously we’re an animal rescue. But anytime we can bless people, that’s even a better thing. It’s a double blessing.