I know some of you may be uncomfortable with the topic of faith and/ or religion. I know I used to be. When the topic came up at all, I always cringed a little or walked out of the room thinking that was all crap, or say some smart remark. If there were a TV show or radio commercial even hinting about religious views, the channel would be changed post-haste! My brother and sisters share those same views today.
Growing up, religion was an odd subject to me. I was a bit confused. My family, well, my mother mostly, was, and still is to the best of my knowledge, a believer in the Jehovah's Witnesses. We would go to the "Kingdom Hall" on Wednesday nights (Sundays too, I think) so my mom could share in her faith and we (kids) would pray that it would end soon, lol. The only things I remember really liking about those days were playing with a couple buddies that were always there no matter what. We'd check out the pretty girls and play with some sort of new found toy of sorts, that sorta thing. I remember the bibles being green, that they believed Christ was crucified on a stake and there were no holidays as they were considered pagan. As a matter of fact, breathing was considered pagan if I remember correctly! (kidding)
My dad, on the other hand, was and still is in search of Him. As far back as I could remember, there would be Jerry Falwell yelling about "faggots", Jimmy Swaggart crying about needing more money and Jim (with his HUGE glasses) and Tami Fae (with her clown make-up) Baker playing on TV. I faintly remember Pat Robertson and the 700 Club too. Gospel music would be playing in the car and he'd fall asleep to it (and most likely still does) every night to the radio by his head. Throughout all that and all those years, I don't ever remember my dad settling down into one church or denomination for very long. He still searches to this day for a sect or denomination that will fill his spiritual needs.
I'm not bashing my parents in any way. As a matter of fact, I owe my life to both of them (literally, lol). I always knew and believed that there was a God and there was a devil. They taught me that, for sure. We didn't celebrate any holidays for religious purposes, which kinda sucked, but over all, we were raised pretty well. Ask either of my siblings that and you might get a different answer, but this is MY blog :P, lol.
I wrote all that to tell you this: about 13 years ago, I went through a change in my life. A change that was way over due. My partying and shenanigans started getting out of hand. I was drinking and drugging so much that no one, including my best friends and family, wanted to be around me. I had to get some help and gave up all that to make a new beginning. I found God shortly after that at a Billy Graham crusade here in Charlotte. I witnessed things that night that would shake your boots! It would take me too long to explain all the things I saw, but I promise, it was God showing me that he loved me and wanted great things for me. Looking back to that night, I knew I would be ok. He had great plans for me as long as I followed and sought after Him.
After that night, I ran to anyone that would listen, told them of my new found faith. Told them how great God is and what he can do FOR YOU! I was excited to say the least. As a matter of fact, people were getting annoyed at the new "JUMPED UP WITH JESUS" Bradley. I sensed that but didn't care. But, as the saying goes, the brightest flame burns the fastest, and it never stuck. I burned out with it and just stopped searching, stopped praying as much, or at all. About 8 months ago, I wasn't seeking Him at all anymore and it was all about me again. To stay mentally and physically sober, there must be a higher power in my life. I never TRULY stopped believing, I just got lazy and complacent. Stopped going to church, stopped asking for guidance and so on. It's a lonely place, believe me.
So, fast forward to 8 months ago. A good friend told me he was going to go to church that Sunday. For some reason, I got excited and asked him if I could join him. He said, "Of course", and it was great! We went together for a few weeks. I dragged my poor wife to one service and she hated it. Partly because the church was a 5500+ member cathedral with jumbo-trons and concert sized PA systems and partly because I hadn't invited her sooner. I kinda pissed her off about just going with my buddy alone. (I know, I know, shut up, lol).
So, she suggested we try this church near our house. Pretty large to this small towns standards, but a 1/4 the size of that soccer stadium I was going to before, and 30 minutes closer of a drive, which is always nice with my gas hog of a truck! That was this past December and we've been going ever since.
I'm really excited about this. We go together as a married couple, we've met people our age. I'm praying again, seeking Him again and comfortable. I was baptized about a month ago in front of a few hundred people and it was AWESOME!!! The pastor is cool too. I witness miracles and hear His messages all the time. About 10 days ago, I got a new job as a direct result of prayer and the church. We went forward and asked for help with this situation. Many people prayed for me to find something, very powerful. So, I find out about a chefs job at a country club near my house (very rare situation). The position was filled but I was asked to come work for them anyway at a lesser rate. I was angry and hurt that they would even consider asking someone of my skill level and greatness to work for that little! (wow, I thought I was something, lol). After being humbled by our pastors messages and not being so arrogant for a change, I took the job, planning to take the next best thing as soon as it came! Well, apparently they were planning to get rid of the chef anyway and needed someone in place before they did so. Here I was thinking that they didn't see how great I was when they actually wanted me there in the first place! They chose me and I am SO GRATEFUL! I was offered the job about a week later and started this past Friday as the official chef. Wow, 37 years old and God gave me a country club kitchen to run. AWESOME!
Going to church, getting baptized and seeking God again has been, and will be, an awesome ride. We hope to be blessed with a healthy and happy child soon. We are excited to see His plans for us! I just have to get out of the way and let Him do what He does!
Now, I'm not a bible thumper, far from it, I just have a new found purpose and I get to share this journey with my wife and new friends, how cool is that!
See, I'm convinced that if my parents hadn't taught me the difference between Heaven and Hell in there own ways, I would be a really lost soul right now, so thanks folks :)