I am accepted. Throughout my entire life, these are the words that I have struggled most to believe. Whether it was as a child trying to make the right grades in school, a minister leading people in a profession some doubted I could ever succeed in, or even as a husband and father loving those closest to me, much of my life was spent trying to do what was expected of me. And why? I wanted their approval. Deep down at my core, I felt that if I didn't live up to expectations, I would not be accepted by others.
Sadly, this flow of thought leaked in to my relationship with God. I knew and believed that God's grace through Jesus Christ had provided my salvation and adoption into the family of God. Functionally, I lived as though I was afraid that God would be done with me if I didn't measure up.
My friend, that just simply isn't true.
It was April 1, 2013, that I awoke from a dream and jotted down a few notes. Those notes became the crazy idea to write a novel. A year later, my friend looked across his kitchen table and had the courage to tell me, "Bradley, you need to write that book. You never light up more than when you mention the idea."
I was in the midst of deciding whether or not to leave the pastorate and disappoint nearly everyone in my immediate circle. All of my approval alarms were already sounding and warning me not to add one more opportunity for people to discount me. I was not a writer, much less the author of a full-length novel.
With the encouragement of my loving wife and the conviction that God was not leading me into harm, I exited the ministry and began to write. Seemingly a failure in life, I spent the next months helping my children with their schoolwork and writing The Chase. It wasn't until the end of the book, that I realized I had written a story about a young man dealing with the expections of others.
In many accidental ways, The Chase is my story. I have not arrived on my journey. I still look in the mirror every morning and wonder if I'm still accepted by God and those I love. I think it's a battle I will face every day, but I know the truth. I am a child of God, loved and accepted, flaws and all.