Hope With No Limits: From Soccer Field to Pulpit with Jesse Bradley
You may be in that season of life where you feel like you have checked all the boxes, but you feel as if you are missing something. Today's guest, Jesse Bradley, has been there. Something usually happens when you are at that point that completely changes the trajectory of your life.
Jesse Bradley offers us a key. The key is hope. Even if you feel hopeless, hope without limits is out there for you. You only have to reach out and anchor in the hope that only comes from God.
After graduating from an Ivy League school (Dartmouth College) with a degree in psychology, Jesse played professional soccer in the US, Scotland, and Zimbabwe. In Africa, Jesse took a prescribed medication to prevent malaria which build up toxic levels in his system and ended his career. Jesse was fighting for his life for a year, and it took 10 years to recover. Now a pastor in Seattle, Jesse has a passion to help people experience an abundant life. Jesse is married to Laurie and together they have four children, a dog named Bella, and a new hamster named Kiwi.
Where to Find Jesse:
Go check out his marriage course on his new YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcBLhywey13O5xSHXD2dDaQ
Don't miss our conference coming up September 30th (VIP Day) - October 2nd in Norfolk, Virginia! To learn more visit, kingdom-clubhouse.com.
Show Notes: From Soccer Field to Pulpit with Jesse Bradley
Oh, right, right. Hope with no limits. Hashtag I am new to this information and now I should have renamed the podcast this cause I love that message, Jesse. We're so excited to have you fit in faith podcast today.
Thanks for being here, Tamra. Thank you so much. It's an honor to be here. I appreciate your creativity. You're vibrant, very authentic. And looking forward to this conversation.
Thank you. I appreciate that. You know, I think vibrancy is, is something we all have access to. And we all vibrate in our own ways. A lot of people are like, oh, because you're an extrovert, you appear this specific way, but it's not, it's not extrovert versus introvert.
It's all created by an ultimate creator who is vibrant within the rainbow. That's why my brand is rainbow. Yes. And when it's healthy on the inside, it just overflows into relationships. Attitude, words, you can see it. You don't miss it. Oh, man, you are speaking my language right there. And that's literally really where this podcast I'll emerge from.
So I don't know if you knew the backstory of the fit and faith podcast is all about teaching people that mind, body, soul alignment piece, that Spiro con spiritual connection, uh, happens when we're in pursuit of our wholeness in the way that God would have us do honoring him mentally, physically, spiritually.
So I'm, we're going to dive into your conversation, but I think that there's definitely something to be said for that. Dropped it without knowing. Yes. Excellent. And I'm so glad you have your podcast on that topic because it's not something you always learn in school. Sometimes in the home, you didn't learn it from parents.
And so we don't know where to turn, be inside stories, the most important story. And I hope that this conversation is inspiring for you. I totally agree with that. And I don't know that I've had a lot of guests on here. I've had a lot of reading and learning and I've never really heard of it from that phrase allergy that the inside story is these only story.
Um, I really love that because I think a lot of people do, especially nowadays look on the exterior, um, the glitz glam, right? Even the color, the branding, all of those things. And they're like, oh, she's got it going on. And it's like, well, let me tell you about my, my broken. Let me tell you about the healing.
Let me tell you about what has happened and transpired from the inside out. So that way you understand why I have rainbow as the promise of God, the reminder that every single day, when I get to work, when I get to show up in creativity, it's because of the brokenness and the dark places that I once was that God got ahold of him.
That's right. And it's the why, why do you have all this and opening up and inviting people into the pain, the disappointment, the loneliness that we all experience. And then where's the hope in the middle of that. And how do you walk through that hope what's a practical roadmap for that hope, but what's the next step for that hope, but the hope is real.
And like you said, it's available. Well, I'm super excited and I hope all of my listeners are, I have a pen and paper because I feel like you're going to give us that roadmap. And I'm pretty excited about it already, knowing a bit of your story. I want you to be able to share it with my community. So let's dive in wherever you feel called to speak to first.
Um, but I definitely want to get to your backstory and how you are, where you are. Yeah, I go back to being a child in, I grew up in Minnesota freezing cold Minnesota, but I enjoyed it. It was a great place to grow up, but one key turning point early in my life is when my parents got divorced and their final day together was the day after my birthday.
And the tension was so real. And as a young child, age seven, watching that happen, I'll never forget my dad leaving the front door. And then just wondering what's left. The two pillars of my life are no longer intact. They're never going to be together again. And as a child, I just felt like it was out of my control.
I felt kind of hopeless, kind of helpless, and it's not what I want. So, how was I going to adjust in life? And I believe that even early on, we have different coping mechanisms for how we handle the pain. And the difficulty in my approach was to dive in to academics and athletics and so much joy playing sports, and then also working really hard and cool.
And that was in addition to friends and having a pretty active social life. I thought that was kind of the full picture. And I ended up going to Dartmouth college in New Hampshire on the east coast. And again, it was a great school. Our soccer team won the Ivy league title twice, and I was in a fraternity.
My freshman year had a lot of friends and I just couldn't figure out if all the boxes I thought would bring me happiness and fulfillment that I was checking all those boxes. Like everything I wanted, it felt like it was there. Why does it go back to my inside story? Why does my inside story feel better?
And I had no idea what any solution would even be, but I just knew things weren't quite right on the inside. Something was missing at that. That's so interesting. And I think I refer to this as like your mirror moment. It's like you're doing all these things throughout the day. And oftentimes especially, and achievement or suppression even, and suppression, we can also use things in achievement to suppress.
So things like sports and the accolades and the titles, and I've met all these friends and it's almost like noise being added to our actual inside self, those emotions. Um, At that point, a lot of things are loud. I'm thinking of like being on the soccer field, which is one of the sports that you like, so attuned to and got to play professionally.
It's it's loud there, right? It's a lot on the field as much as it's loud in the audience. And when there's all of wildness, you can't even hear the voice of God. So when you get to the mirror at the end of the day, or sometimes the beginning of the day is, is really when it's most quiet. And, um, I avoided that, that so much, I avoided it.
When it came to the listening to what was happening, not only with myself talk, but with God, talk to me. Um, and so what was like that transition point for you? Yeah, that's so good listening and being in tune with what's happening on the inside and not trying to deny, deny or stuff. And without even realizing it, I unintentionally like many people do fell into really a trap of my identity being tied to performance.
And that was true academically. It was true in sports and that's so easy for an athlete to do. And as a goalkeeper, there's a lot of pressure in soccer because one mistake could be one goal. And so, you know, Each level I was more and more intense and focused, but again, what was really happening on the inside.
And I took a class, it was the introduction to world religions and it was at Dartmouth. I wasn't seeking God now in my family growing up, I would say we're like, Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors. We've got a little bit of everything. Agnostic, atheist, Jewish rabbi, Catholic, Catholic, there's a little bit everything going on.
And I took this class and it was the first time I ever read the Bible. Or had any interest in God and the professor kind of undermined the Bible, but I read the gospel of John. I started to read about Jesus and it was a life I had never seen before. It was a love I had never really experienced before.
And it was so curious. I started asking literally hundreds of questions. It was the first Christian I ever had a relationship with in terms of a friendship. And he was on my dorm floor on the track team. He was a quiet guy. Really mellow low key, but I could see something was different than it was real.
And I just started to ask him questions and we had conversations. I think it's important for everyone to have a safe place, you know, where you can read a safe place where you can think a safe place where you can ask questions. And I was kicking the tires. Basically to use a metaphor. I wanted to know what's real.
What's the evidence. I mean, if you make a decision with faith, that's your most important decision in your life? I mean, you're really, it's your whole being, it's your core, it's your soul. And I wanted to know that this isn't blind faith, this isn't weird faith. This is, I got to have something solid. And so learning about God, learning about Jesus, I understood foundationally.
Okay. There's a real God who loves me. And, and I didn't believe that growth. And so that was a new kind of opening. And sometimes we need to open our minds when there's new evidence. It's like, all right, my old paradigm doesn't fit because I'm getting some new evidence here and God loves me. Then it was clear that yes, I've sinned against God, but what does that word sin means?
It means missing the mark or I've fallen short of the standards we all have. Right. There's not shame and guilt. Just a reality that I'm not perfect. I can own that. And I need forgiveness. If I'm going to connect with the holy. And then here's the key for me. It's what turned things around. It's grace.
Grace is an undeserved gift. And as I looked at different religions, it was like, there's so much striving and performing. And I'm like, that's what I've been doing my whole life. Like I don't, I can't chase after a God. That's perfect that I need to perform. I need to earn his love. Like that's never going to work.
And so this message of grace that he loves us. He wants a relationship. He knows us. He sees our work. He still likes us, loves us. And it was like, okay, now my heart's starting to open up and I got a taste that maybe God is good. And maybe there's some hope here. And I eventually decided to put my trust in Jesus.
And I'll just tell you, there's a song that entered on the inside. It was never there before, and wouldn't turn off and I'd just walk around. I didn't need to be in church. In fact, I never went to church at that point. I just knew this. Jesus loves me and I'm just singing on the inside. And now. Things like sports and my social life and academics.
They're all like falling into place in their proper perspective because they're not dominant in my life. They're not defining my identity and now I'm accepted in secure and it just shifted everything for me. And I started to. Let's see the world different love people more. Uh, I was kind of biting and material people down and all of a sudden that just wasn't there as much.
Like I still appreciate sarcasm and just wasn't the same. Like I wasn't judging and just tearing down and criticizing the same way it was like, I didn't. Was able to forgive people. I never forgave before and things were changing in my heart that I didn't plan, but it was this relationship and it's overflow that started to happen.
Wow. That's so incredible. Interestingly, in my school, um, I went to JMU in Virginia and I took a Unitarian course. And it was a world religion class as well, my freshman year. And, um, everyone that I grew up around, I had, um, part of my family, uh, practicing Judaism and then part Luce, practicing Christianity.
They believed in God. And that was pretty much it w we said nightly prayers when we were little, and that was pretty much it. And so, um, when I went into this and knowing so much so that we know that public education as a whole has a fee, um, How should I say this nicely, uh, secularized lens on, on faith and secularized lens on our identity.
And so I took this class and I had to go to the mosque and I had to go to the synagogue and I had to go to all of these different places. As I practiced and learned about religion, we had to go and actually partake in their services. And one of the huge things that, um, really spoke to me, and that was this discrimination against women in their different tracks.
Um, some of which I had to, you know, wear and cover up my entire body, other than my eyes showing, which you weren't even allowed to worship next to the men, you actually had to be behind a closed wall and you couldn't even see what was up on stage. You had to sit in a specific position the entire time.
Super uncomfort. Couldn't wear shoes. There was all these different things. Um, and so I was actually pretty far from God at that point in my life. And, um, I, how close to the fact that if there was anything that was true, it would be Christianity. If I was to lean into faith, it would be in God. And it wasn't until years later, where I really came to know myself through the lens of the father and he actually got a hold of me to the point that it sounds like he got a hold of you.
So true that you say that like other parts of your life kind of seamlessly fall into place. And I think a lot of times, even with soccer being a really great, simple example, is this knowing that you used to chase it for the accolade, for the title, for the friends, perhaps, um, even for the athleticism and it's not to say that he doesn't use it, he actually uses it and catapults you into it.
Like profoundly in fact. Um, and he does it because he uses all things for good. Um, and I'm sure at that point, you everyone's seeing this different illness in you and, and you actually having a change of heart, a change of mind, which is ultimately what repentance is about. Or dependent sounds like a really scary thought, but it's just, it's just changing your mind.
God just comes in and just changes your mind towards that forgiveness ideation towards that ability to speak life in it with your tongue instead of death. And where people on your team are you a witness to people on your team with that new alignment and sense of. Right. I like that explanation of repentance because it is, it's refreshing, it's positive.
It's 180 degree change. And so many people during COVID to dispense, they need a restart, they need a reset, they need a new trajectory, trajectory, new direction. And that's what I started to experience it on the soccer. I started to have a time of prayer before the games, and then other players wanted to join me.
And I noticed during those times of prayer, it was like, I was connected to God and there's great freedom. I believe in a relationship with God. There's great freedom. And all of a sudden I was more free. There was less pressure on myself, sports in some ways became more. Burden because, you know, we wanted to win the NCAA tournament we made to the final aid, but you know, each game is like more pressure.
And when I pray and then I would come out of prayer, it was like, no, I prayed out of quick reflex as a player, communicate, well, let's go play and enjoy the game. And that was so freeing. And you know where the spirit of the Lord is there's freedom. And you mentioned search settings and there should be freedom to cry.
Freedom to be yourself, freedom to lift up your hands. There's just a lot of joy. You mentioned. You know, in terms of women, Jesus elevated women. When he was alive, he brought them up. Sadly, they were seen as second class and he said, no, they're not second class. And when his resurrection happened, the first people they experienced Jesus.
And the first people he appeared to were women. And it's so counter-cultural, so when you read the Bible, you just see how Jesus used the world. And that starts to renew our minds and change how we view the world. And I would go to the same parties I went to before, but I wouldn't drink because I felt like I don't even need it.
Now, I'm not saying it's wrong to have a drink, you know, at a gathering, but for me, I just had joy and it's like, what's happening? You're at the party. You're dancing. You're having fun. You meet people and you don't even need to drink. Like, no, I have this new source of joy and I don't need the search for a bottle to have joy.
Like, I've just got this joy that you can't take away. And that started to, um, just change so many different things. And with soccer, you know, I, I did still have that passion and that passion didn't disappear. In fact, it kept growing. And so I was able to play on some different teams. There was a team in Minnesota, we went to Scotland and then Zimbabwe is where I played after college.
And in it. They're in Bulawayo, I'll call it the Highlanders football club and the loved being an Africa. You know, my career ended tragically and, you know, we, we could dive into that maybe too, but, uh, I would just say it was a prayerful decision to go to Africa and going there. It was the first time I had seen poverty firsthand.
Uh, as a first time I've seen. Uh, there was a drought there. I just never seen those conditions. And yet the people there were so generous, so hospitable to so glad that we were there and I learned so much from them and they had so little, but they were so thankful. And I started to realize like gratitude isn't about how much is in your bank account or how big your house is.
Gratitude is a choice and they would sing. They had gratitude. They would smile, laugh. They had great relationships in the middle. A situation that I'd never experienced before in terms of some of those conditions. So I was learning so much in Africa and it was a wonderful to go and play there too. I love that.
I actually have such a passion for travel so much so that I infuse it into my business so that I could do it as often as I want. And I think a lot of people forget that when you're like starting a business or you're choosing a career, you're choosing it for one area. But there are so many passions that you have tried to stroke all of those into the place that you are and the place that you exist.
And so I will take women outside of their comfort zone to places they've never been in order for them to get that shake, to get that reminder of, of truly one humanity and what other people are experiencing. And what we think is like, so tragic. Think about what they're experiencing, what actual hunger really feels like it.
I, if I intermittent fast and it's like one 30. Starving. No, you're not. You're actually not starving. Okay. Right, right. And you're actually not cold. I did not. I live in Minnesota, so I even don't even know what that is. Right. So getting people outside of their comfort zones, allow them not only to see and be gracious and grateful, but also allows you to have a further empathy for other people.
And I think that's what literally Jesus did when he was having the disciples follow to them and they were going to. Cities and seeing how different people were living and what their needs were and experiencing a leper and experiencing a lay man and all of the things that he did. Um, we really love that you had that experience and I'm sure it plays in a lot to who you are today, but I know that there's another component to Africa.
I'd love for you to share because I'm, I'm curious, selfishly, I'm curious what happens next. I love how you said it. That God loves everyone in the world. There's going to be people from every nation. Tongue and tribe in heaven. And also we're all equal in. Sometimes it's easy for me growing up in America to think, oh, the other countries aren't as important, or I don't care as much about them.
And by going to Africa, my heart just opened up and broke and just the connection that happened there. And it's a good reminder that we need to look out for each other, need to respect each other. We need to pray for each other. We need to be gentle. As well, we've been given so much in America and I believe that when you receive a lot, there's a responsibility to bless the other nations as well.
But yeah, in Africa, something happened unexpected. And that was, uh, well, first of all, I took up prescribed medication to prevent malaria and I took it every week. And then over the course of many months, over the course of the season, it built up toxic levels of my system. And I was a professional athlete who started to know.
That my body was shutting down. I started to have migraine headaches and I never have those, but I couldn't handle light. I couldn't handle noise. I started to have sweats and chills, crazy dreams. Emotionally. I had an equilibrium before that that was very altered. And now I started to experience panic attacks.
I started to experience depression, the waves of it, double vision, and the most serious physical symptom was with my hands. And the blockers, uh, in my heart were inhibited and that's what the drug does. So heart regulation, heart rhythm is now thrown off. I would start, uh, basically tachycardia 160 beats a minute, and it would just come out of the blue.
And just when I'm sitting down 160 beats a minute, that's people at their peak exercise level and I'm just sitting down atrial flutter. It was another abnormality, it was beats. And so the rhythm was off. I could feel it skipping beats all the time. A flutter. I had pain in the left side of my chest during the day, during the night.
And I was fighting for my life for a year. The doctors in Africa sent me back home because they saw my health was deteriorating. And I started to pay out of pocket to see different specialists. And there's a doctor at Stanford who said that, uh, there's 10 things. This could be, and he listed all 10. No one had ever mentioned the drug before, but he mentioned it in.
I just knew at that point, That's what's happening now. Here's where I think prayer steps in because there's things that happen in life where we need wisdom beyond just our own thoughts. And sometimes even advice from other people isn't spot on. And the doctors were saying, I should keep taking the drug for another month as prescribed, because they didn't want me to get malaria on top of this.
Malaria can be like, And you need the drug to prevent malaria even a month after you return. But inside, I sense, no through prayer. It's the drug. That's the problem. If I can't take it, I can't take anymore. And we had my blood sent to the center of disease control. And then results came back. They confirmed toxic levels in my system.
If I would have kept taking the drug for another month, I probably would have died. And yet the doctors and even friends, family were saying, you need to take the drug. So I go back to that decision, which took a lot of courage and felt a little crazy. But after all looking back, it's like, I'm grateful to be alive.
And, uh, it was 10 years. Uh, it's a long story, but 10 years to fully recover the first year was the most intense, but the symptoms, it's a long recovery. And I learned so many wonderful things. I would never want to go through that, you know, for a minute. But I learned things about habits and mindset and relationships, my purpose, so many things.
In my life, even my identity. Uh, so many things changed during that recovery. And, and I'll say this to encourage anyone that's going through a hard time right now that God does his greatest work in the most difficult times. And I believe in grace that some of the greatest experiences in our life come out of the worst circumstances.
And so I don't think, you know, I would change my story. I had an opportunity to play in England, you know, but I went to Africa and I'd say, well, go into England. Maybe I wouldn't have received all this, you know, side effects, illness. Maybe I would have a long playing career maybe, but I'm not going to go back with regret or second guess instead part of my journey.
And this is what I believe is we learn the most in those valleys. We grow the most in the valley and ultimately that's where we can then become part of the healing process for other people. And if I didn't go through what I went through, I wouldn't have the same passion to connect with people and build people up and love people like that.
I just know what I was like before, and I know what I was like after. And a lot of things changed. Yeah. And I always think, you know, when you're in the midst of it, you're like, this is terrible and you're like pleading for God to take it away and you're pleading for it to just be over. And it's okay if I have to go through it, but just make it happen really, really, really fast.
It was Sonic like miracle working time so that I can be beyond. But like you said, in that 10 years, there was an entire process. There was an equipping process that was taking place because he knows now. And you know, now with always hindsight, 2020, that there are so many pieces of your story that connect with other people based on the things and the trials and the tribulations that you went through.
And I, I'm no different. And I honestly think everybody. They wouldn't they're, you know, they say the grass is greener, but when you actually listen to somebody else's testimony, you're like, do you want to trade? There's often very, very rarely have I ever heard somebody say, yeah, let's switch. There's always something that's really, really hard that we've been through.
And I would never want somebody else to go through it. Same probably for you. But I also don't want to trade that. I had a 10 year battle with them. That's right. Yeah. Right. That's so true. Yeah. Yeah. And for me, one shift, you know, in terms of identity, is that going back to, you know, where do we find it? Is it through performance?
I was struggling with who am I? Because with all these things gone, my health gone, the career gone friends, weren't around, you know, my income what's up. Who am I still? And what I had to shift is instead of in my performance and in my soccer and in my career, the shift was going to be. I'm going to land that anchor in something that doesn't change in everything else in my life, it felt like is changing.
But the one that won't change is God and his love. So now I'm not earning that anymore, but my deepest identity and security is there. And I realized if I'm alive for another day, it's the grace of God. If I'm in my right mind, it's the grace of God. I had to learn how to drive again because my system was so sensitive.
I couldn't even handle the stimulation for a year and this I had to relearn just how to drive. I had to chart over the course of the year. Just being able to celebrate. I can now walk 15 minutes instead of just five without my heart escalating and the rapid heartbeat. So I looking back at that progress, because when you're in a long-term recovery, you don't feel like you're taking steps forward.
So it was important to chart that progress and look, no, I have taken some steps forward and then a key for me was the battle between my ear. Because my thoughts and because of this drug, they're both terrible thoughts, sometimes crazy thoughts, but also destructive thoughts, even suicidal thoughts would come in and you can't control that first thought that first thought comes in.
You can't stop it from coming in, but you can decide I'm not going to believe it, Harbor it, embrace it. And I had to reject so many first thoughts and then choose the second thought that was intentional, something good, something true, something noble, something positive. Instead of on the field trying to save these balls from going in the net.
Instead, I'm trying to save my thought life, keep my mind out of the ditch, out of despair and then keep taking out the junk and then putting in the stuff that's true and right. And just even memorizing, writing down different things. Some of them were Bible verses. And so I would be thinking about, because what's happening in between your ears, the battle of the mind is so real that that's going to shape everything else in your life.
And I had to guard that space. Like I was guarding a socket. That's so awesome. And what a cool way to like visualize I'm such a visual learner and God actually speaks to me envisioned too. So like when I'm talking to him, he'll show me pictures because he knows I'm going to retain it. And he knows I'm going to, uh, create and from plant it within my heart as the next step on the place to go.
And, um, I think that I specifically have a husband and brother-in-law who played soccer and are huge soccer fans. And so this is really going to resonate with them, um, to have that sports analogy. Um, but also to realize that that mind game is no matter what your gender, again, back to whatever your cultural backgrounds, wherever you live in the world, everyone experiences this.
And I love that. You said you can't help that first initial thought, but you can control what happens afterwards. What's the next affirming thought that you're going to take hold of. Um, and I think a huge part of that, and I'd be curious to hear who was surrounding you. Point, you know, they say that you're the sum of the five people around you.
But if you don't have those people that are willing to continue to point you to integrate this into success and call out in you, the things that God has gifted you, it becomes really difficult to win the mental battle and stay within the understanding of even what God calls you and says. That's it.
Great question. And Tamra, you know, people might think we've scripted. This. We've taught nothing about how to walk through this and you just making it relaxed, conversational, and then just like the next, so next point in the journey and, you know, habits, I believe are very powerful, transformative life-giving.
And part of that mindset was a new habit and just writing 10 things down every day that I'm thankful for. And that to have that on paper and write those 10 down, that was a habit that started to really change my mindset and change the way I viewed the world. And one person that came along, as you mentioned, who are those key people?
Because when you have a healing journey, God works through people. And the way they listen, the way they love and his love is manifest through those quality friendships. Compassionate people that God brings it just the right time. And one of those people in my life was Jeff, Jeff Johnson. And he was someone in this was big for me.
I referred earlier to my coping in life, try harder, do better and focus more and really just crash through the next barrier. And, and that's how I made it. Yeah. Productive in many arenas, but it has a ceiling. It has limitations in, this was so massive. And so long in terms of the duration that I couldn't just push my way through.
There was no academic setting to do better, no sports. And so how would I make it through something like this? And I just realized I'm going to have to learn something new. Cause my semi denial try harder approach was not going to work here. And I, the shift here was to let people in to what I'm going right.
And Jeff was someone that I trusted. He was safe. He was loving, he was authentic and I let him in. And who do we have in our lives? Who we can really be bear, be raw and let them in to our deepest vulnerability. Our laws are grieving our tears, our pain cry with them. I mean, when's the last time we've cried with a friend and Jeff was that person who, again, listened so well.
Listening is a lost art. It is so valuable in relationships to listen with your heart and your mind and your ears to really enter into someone else's shoes to enter in emotionally, not just to find a quick solution. But, uh, to have that gift of presence and then Jeff and I, you know, that connection, that friendship is one we still have, you know, years later in that bond, you don't forget the people you've suffered with you.
Don't forget the people who met you there in the hospital or met you there when you felt like things were hopeless and so grateful for Jeff. And, uh, he entered in and that was a risk for me. Relationships are a risk and for there to be healing and closeness, we're gonna need to risk. And I, I risked with Jeff letting him in.
And Jeff, especially for that first year was just like that guide who had done a little more life than I had a little stronger in his faith than I was. And he just kept showing me a next step forward and he didn't leave my side in, in that way. And, and I look back and I'll never forget that. I'm very great.
That's incredible. And I think, you know, a lot of people lean into the whole mentor, mentee experience and then coaching, I get to coach and needed that pastoral guidance. Right. And I think a lot of times it's like, how do I find that person? Especially if you're isolated in an experience or a community or a lack of church or a lack of community, how do you, how do you seek someone like that out?
I'm curious what your advice would be for someone. Yeah. You know Jesus before he chose the 12th, he prayed all night. And so I think we need discernment. And who are those people we're going to bring in closest? Who are those three are those five, and then who's maybe next in the group of 12. And when you meet someone, you know, ask them some questions.
Get a feel for it. Maybe you see them in a few different settings, maybe you pray, but maybe take it a step at a time, start with coffee, you know, and then invite them out. I mean, in one way, I initiated with Jeff because I went to church and I just noticed who he was, you know? And, and from that, it's like, right, what's the next step.
And I think keep your eyes open. You're going to pick up on who that person really is. And that's my per a lot of times, it's God to show me who this person really is. And so I can just see a no. And then when you have someone, you know, how do you know if this is a good fit or a good match? Uh, first of all, a mentor might not meant to you in every part of your life.
Like you might have so many mentors, you in Bible study or someone else who mentors you in parenting or someone else who mentors you in finances and someone else who mentors you, you know, in your thought life. And there's a whole range. So don't have to put all the pressure on. Don't have to lock in to say, we're going to meet every Tuesday for three hours and like, let's get it in the calendar.
You know, taking a step at a time, enjoy it. When you find that person you're going to be growing, it's going to be win-win. They're going to be energized to, I say, come teachable when it's a mentor. And then, uh, you're going to see that you're actually freed up to be yourself and kind of spread your wings and you just come more alive.
You have more energy. And when you're around those kinds of people, then I say, I get closer to God. I get closer to them. I see things clear. I'm learning, you know, my purpose. And I think it is healthy to always have someone who's a mentor and someone that you're mentoring. And maybe you don't feel like you're at a level you can manage.
But yes, you can. I'm telling you whether it's a child, whether it's a friend who's hurting, whether it's someone who's experienced something you've been through and look for those people, they're not always there a hundred percent of the time. And sometimes there's a season of waiting, but be looking and then take that risk and take that initiative in that day.
I literally was going to say that exact thing. And then knowing that there's different ways that we need to be sharpened and that one person's strength is another person's weakness. And so leaning in whether it's through that mind, body, soul, spirit. I had therapists, I had pastors, I had friends. I had people who, you know, were entrepreneurs and authors.
Speakers and, but more so importantly than anything, especially knowing that there was this massive mind game happening, mind war and also identity crisis. And ultimately I think when you think back to a lot of people's pitfalls or a lot of people's broken seasons or dark places, what was being shaken was their idea.
Yeah, it was something in regards to who you are and who's you are, is being stripped away from you. And that's why the mental game was happening is because you were taking on the belief pattern. That the negative thing that was coming in was true. And that's simply not the case. And we know that. Every single son or daughter, every single child of God who was breathing life in this very moment, we know that they're called to more and that they are made for more and that their existence is beautiful and worthy and called.
Um, and so I'm curious, as you know, went past this mentorship experience, you went past this 10 year timeframe. How did you step in from being an athlete and an achiever into this next season of personal development and wellness and leaning into who God called you? Yes, there was something Jesus said that stuck with me during that whole time.
And he said that if you abide with him, that's closeness, reliance, listening to him. If you abide with him, even when the storms come, even though they're going to beat against your house and the streams rise, and there's all kinds of trials going on, he said, if you abide with him, your house will be like a house on the rock.
But if you just try to do it all in your own strength and you push him away and you reject his love. Grace and you house, it's going to end up being like a house on the sand. And I heard that and I thought, I want my house to be a house on the rock. I just don't want my house to break and smash because that's what it felt like my life was.
And out of that, it's like, what, what would it look like? You know, to grow? What purpose guide do you have for me? And having that foundation of a rock kind of freedom. To start to try some different things. And I say, it's hard to steer a parked car, so don't just sit there and wait for everything to happen.
But again, what's the next right thing. What's the next step. And I started to volunteer when I had the health. It was still a battle. You know, I, I tried to get a job, but I was so sick. I got sick three times. I couldn't work yet, you know, so I could only volunteer for a long stretch. And then I hit a point where I could go back to school.
And going back to school, it was like, I knew growing up, I never heard about God. I didn't know. People ask me questions about the Bible because they know I'm a Christian I'm like, I don't know. I don't know. So I went back to school thinking, all right, during that time I can at least grow spiritually. I believe that you can grow spirit.
Any setting and it doesn't have to wait till you have the right job, right. To you're married. Do you think the right person, or you have a great dating relationship or you're in the right city or any setting? And so those four years were so healing for me physically. I was still recovering the people in the school.
One guy called me limp biscuit, which is not the greatest compliment, but it was like, I'm trying to give you a visual of it. You know, like how it was making it through school, learning about God growing and this desire to help other people. Yup. Growing. And when you've been through something, a lot of times, You just, you develop a passion in a burden, in a good sense of the word to help people who are in a similar spot.
And I started to think about people at the same questions I did about God who were pushed to the brink of their sanity, pushed to the brink physically. And where's the hope for them. Uh, who's gonna w who's going to create a safe place where they can process life. Uh, how could I connect with them? And then share maybe content that would add value, not force anyone, but at least present some options that I never knew.
If you're stuck in a mode of trying to perform for your identity, if you're stuck in a mode of just try harder, you know, you're stuck in the performance traps and sometimes the pace and patterns of the world. Like, is there another option? Is there something better? And I just wanted to, you know, grab that megaphone and say, there is there really.
And, and even now, like I look at, during the pandemic, we've had people take their lives, you know, in 48% of Americans say they feel hopeless during the pandemic and hope is not just for a small sliver of people. And it's not just for people who are desperate, just for people who have a really severe addiction.
Hope is available for everyone and we need hope. We need hope right now. It's gotta be real. It's gotta be authentic. It's not just a feeling that comes and goes. It's much deeper than that. And that's what I just started to love is when people on the inside start to experience real hope and healing and fullness, and even their view of.
Because we've been talking a little bit about view of self that it's not deflated and it's not inflated. And you, you see some people deflate low self-esteem, they've been pushed down. They've been abused, they've been mistreated, they've been told, mean things, and they've kind of believed it and they just feel like there's no empowerment and I want to empower those people.
And then there's others. Who have tasted a little too much success that has gotten a little bit, a little too full of themselves. And it's like, ah, nice to talk to you. Um, you know, enough about me, what do you think about me? And, you know, it's just right back to them again. It's like something else. And, and so those are traps that we all battle with every day.
Like I don't want to be in place. I don't want to be defeated. How can I just walk in a way where I love people? Like I love myself. There's a, there's a mutual, there's just a love. That's healthy. There's a love from God. Uh, there's a, there's a girl, uh, in, in, she doesn't go to church, but she, her mom's approached me this last week and saying, my girl.
Keeps talking about wanting to go to church. This is out of the blue and she wants to talk about guys. She wants to talk about Jesus. It's like her little soul is just saying like, I want this love. I know there's a love out there. And I want this love and is that different at every stage and age of life, like we want to be secure and love.
There's nothing greater than love. And that's what brings you. I love that so much. And as you were talking, I'm thinking through that deflated versus inflated, and a lot of people will approach me around my confidence. And it's the conversation that like confidence and humility can co-exist they do coexist Jesus exampled.
It, he walked in right to the battle. He walked right into the crowd. He walked right into the enemy territory, right. Every single time. And so when we are allowing him to be the one who's right in front of him, Rather than ourselves being the line leader, like we so equally want to do and we're young, or we're trying to be the captain of the team, or we want to be the one on the top of the podium getting the first place meadow, which for gymnastics was always my goal.
Right. And so it's this knowing that if we were staying as close to him, that the dust is on us, right. If you're thinking about that, it doesn't sound very glamorous. If I was walking anywhere and someone was in front of me and desk was flicking up on the island, Please just move a little bit to the right.
Like you're kind of in my way. Right. But to know that that's exactly where he calls us to be not because of getting dirty, but because of the closeness that he will proceed you into the situation that you can be confident because he's there already and he's already paved a way for you to. Whether it's speaking, whether it's teaching, whether it's showing up in a specific setting or it's showing up in a specific, uh, heart set, right.
As he's exampled all of these things for us or our confidence, if it's connected to him, we don't have to worry about am I worthy of this? And I called to this, he's already proceeded you into that situation. So it equips you before you have to deflate yourself to say, I'm not good. Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah.
That combination see it as a paradox, but how can you be humble and confident how can be humble and bold? And it all goes back to Jesus. You know, sometimes with speaking for me, it was something I hated until actually I started to follow Jesus. And then all of a sudden there was this ability or desire, but I've been doing it for a long time.
And people sometimes come up and say, oh, well, you probably never get it. And I'm thinking, no, I feel nerves every single time. This podcast, like we prayed right before we started. It's like, we're going to God. And that's so freeing when you can bring your weaknesses to God, you know, or, uh, the Bible says that his power is made perfect in your weakness.
And I can tell you before I speak on the weekend, I'm just saying, God, please help me. I'm feeling, I don't feel the life today. I don't feel like I. Thought through this, maybe as clearly, or it's a little fuzzy or God, I'm just feeling low on energy. And I just bring that to him all the time. God, I'm feeling really nervous.
I'm feeling scared right now. Please help. And that's so freeing in a relationship where you can just say, this is where I'm at. This is who I am. And then God has a way. And I think he gets the glory is the bottom line where he, when we acknowledge that I need to. And, and again, there's no shame in saying, God, I need your help.
That is a wonderful position to be. There's no shame in seeing a counselor in getting help. There. There's so many great resources in, so it's, it's not shame and guilt. We say, I need help. And that's the reality of our existence. Why deny it? We need God, we need each other. We need great mentors. We need information.
We need all that. And then when you're free and you're comfortable in that because you know, you're secure and love. You're not scrapping and trying to manufacture an identity, you've got an identity, you know, who's you are and who you are, like you said, then that asking that receiving and that fullness comes in and you feel this closeness with God when you are empty and he fills you, you are feeling unloved.
And then, um, his, his compassion and closeness come in, you're feeling hopeless. Hope starts to swell up. You can feel this isn't just religion or rituals. This, this is not rules. This is a relationship with a living God. And, and that's when life's at its best, but you have said it so many times during this podcast and utilize the joy.
If you guys aren't watching this live and you're listening, he just, when he says this specific word, Face lights up and he almost opens. You're like opening your arms, as you say, the word freedom that it was so freeing that it was so freeing. You kept saying everything back to soccer, everything back to your identity and that performing and that rock building versus sand building that there was freedom in those places on that firm foundation.
I'm curious as you. Had all of those different, um, belief systems around you, you are clearly positioned into those relationships. And so as you came to emerge in your faith and that freedom, what did the people who didn't share that perspective? Um, what did they say to you? How did those relationships shift and have you seen healing and freedom?
And those people said. Yeah. Great question again. Uh, freedom when I was growing up, I thought you can just do whatever you want when you want, how much you want, you know, when I got my driver's license or, you know, your drinking age. Yeah. Freedom, but freedom. Isn't just indulging and whatever is going to satisfy me in the moment.
Like there's more life in serving. There's more life in like seeing other people's lights enhanced. And so freedom, I think, is really being able to discern sometimes right from wrong. Sometimes what's truly living and then step into that. And with that freedom, not everyone's going to celebrate it. Uh, when you say, wow, I'm excited.
What about my faith? Even when you say faith, a lot of people have scars. My heart goes out to a lot of people. Who've had an experience of religion and there's been, uh, maybe a spend malicious or hypocrisy. It's been dead. It's been mean judgmental. So when you say faith or Jesus or God, and you try to describe some of this for some people.
That's a trigger word because of their experience in church. And so for a lot of people, it's a new thing to separate my bad experience from a God. Who's still good. And, and that's huge that the experience I had, that's not what God wanted. In fact, Jesus was harshest with religious people that had hypocrisy and he called them out.
So Jesus is with you. If you recognize that that that's off base, he's still with you. And that ability to separate that for a lot of people, maybe they've grown up and their parents have a faith, but they haven't. They haven't really stepped into it and you can't live through someone else, your whole life.
This is a direct relationship with God and is my relationship with God started to grow as I ended up becoming a pastor as well. And it served at different places. I just realized with that sometimes I am going to be misunderstood. Sometimes I'm going to be criticized. I mean, if that's. Did Jesus in many settings that'll happen to his followers, but I've got to make sure I'm not doing something wrong.
I got to check my heart. I'm not obnoxious. A rude is not pride in their, or if I've done 10% to contribute to the problem, then I need to own that 10%, a hundred percent. So, uh, I, I try to walk through it in that mindset. But yes. Uh, I love being with a wide range of people I'm in Seattle now been here the last five years.
It's the second highest city in America, detergent, you know, it's top 10 in terms of unchurched. And so trying to have conversations that are spiritual for people that come to church in Seattle, it's not like the Bible belt, like in a lot of neighborhoods, like our neighborhood, maybe 5% of the people go to church.
And so you're almost a little strict. If you are likened God talking about God, enjoy God. I mean, you're, you're borderline edgy
for Jesus. Yeah, it's true. You know, you kind of stand out. Uh, he calls us to be people. That's right. You, you know what doesn't exist as much in this part of the country is just kind of that nominal going through the motions. You just do it because it's the thing to do. You've always done it. It's just the culture you live in.
You just go to church or it's good for business. Like no, the people who come like they usually have some courage, but I try to encourage them just not to be intimidated. Cause whenever you're in the minority, it's always easy to shrink back to maybe stuff. Your beliefs be intimidated. Be silent, not let your light shine.
And so for a lot of followers of Jesus in this area, you know, no, just be yourself. Don't let people shut you down. Don't give people too much power, just walk humbly, but walk, you know, and then in terms of the people around, we've been trying to be more creative and in this culture, you really need to go to where people are, serve people, you know, give away food or, you know, build relationships.
And, and so how can we go out beyond the walls of the church in authentic way, and then be creative, even with things like podcasts, media, you know, that's where people are, they're on their phones. And if you go to where people are, then you're going to meet them on their phones. And so let's not be ignorant or push away technology, but instead, how can we redeem it?
How can relationships happen? And what's interesting is that some people. My preference is in-person. I think that's the best, but there's some people they're finding out who actually are more vulnerable and open online. They feel safer. They feel safer to check out church. They feel safe to check out spiritual things.
They feel safe on a zoom call and the comfort of their own home and the opening. In ways that maybe there'll be more cautious in person, a lot of people around, but online in small groups, one-on-one, they're just pouring out their heart and souls. And that's what I'm seeing. I was on a zoom call last night with some people, two people last night and a zoom call, put their trust in Jesus for the first time.
And, and, you know, they just, they just said, one of them said, I can't even believe I'm doing this, but I totally am. I totally want to do this. And so it's pretty amazing what's happening to them. That's so incredible. I was just at, um, the Sean Foyt, uh, revival worship nights that he's been hosting around the country.
Um, and Virginia Beach is his hometown, so it was cool to have him here. Uh, but you know, he's been, I think at this point to like a hundred cities, right. And he's doing something peculiar. He's doing something against the rules. He's doing something that is bringing a lot of attention. And I think that people think that in order to be a Jesus freak or a Jesus lover, that we have to have like a Bible underneath our arms and show up to all of the places.
But just, as you said, when you went to that team, um, practice, or you were walking through the halls and roaming through the holes halls of your building or going to these parties at night, um, when Jesus is within you, you don't need to carry the Bible with you. Now. I think that the Bible serves an incredible, incredible resource for us, and it's a living.
It's a living mechanism that speaks to me all the time, but I don't have to have it in my tangible hand for me to have it within my spirit and to be able to walk into. Serve and love and be, and, and do so in maybe a crazy fashion. Like I don't care at this point, if people call me a Jesus freak, but the people who were closest to me when I came to know the Lord were very uncomfortable with the fact that I leaned so heavily into my faith and exploring who God is and who I was through his lens, um, to the point where that circle had to be shed.