A Temporary Fit
In 11th grade, Brad decided to go on a “journey.” He attended every religious denomination he could. “Nothing really floated my boat,” Brad said.
Nothing, that is, until he had a conversation with a youth minister at a non-denominational church. Somehow they got talking about Latter-day Saints, and the minister told Brad that he’d gone to a Bible college that taught courses on how to de-convert members of the Church.
The hurt that Brad had fostered for so long had gradually turned to anger, and he was all ears. The minister gave him several anti-Latter-day Saint books, taught him that the Book of Mormon was a Bible rip-off by showing him the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi, and fed his hunger for information against the Church. Brad had found his place. He began going to the non-denominational church consistently and was baptized in their font.
Brad went to war trying to de-convert his Latter-day Saint peers at school. He went particularly after bishops' daughters—dating them and fueling their desires for rebellion. “People in high school really started to dislike me in that respect,” Brad said. “I hate to admit it, but I was able to get a few people to leave.”
Brad (right) and his close friend Jesse Sorenson in the summer of 2000.
Brad’s life post-high school was a blur of drugs, alcohol, women, and arguing with anyone who was a Latter-day Saint. The drugs began to win out over religion, however, and Brad found himself “shying a little bit more away from the anti-Latter-day Saint stuff” as he sought something to fill the emptiness in his life.
One morning Brad woke up to find his mom upstairs in the hallway, naked and stomping on a first aid kit. “The house was completely trashed. Windows were broken, light fixtures were torn off the walls. She had half of the living room outside in the front yard.”
Brad thought she might be having a stroke, so he called 911. It turns out, however, that she’d been drinking more than eating on top of taking a steroid-based antibiotic. She was malnourished, had an infection, and her brain chemistry was off. She had only 30 percent of her liver capacity left, and doctors gave her three to five years to live, tops.
With this news, Brad’s own drinking and smoking intensified. “There were a lot of nights where I would drink and stare at my gun. . . . I didn’t really see myself living past 30,” Brad said.
Brad was about 25 when a good friend came home from Iraq, and they decided to go to a strip club to celebrate. They drank and smoked a lot beforehand to avoid the high prices at the bar. Brad was “completely obliterated” before they got there, but he only continued to consume at the club.
Brad arrived home blacking out, throwing up, and sure that he was going to die. “There are just instances in your life . . . where you know this could be it. You messed up. You are going to be toast.”
That night, hunched over between vomiting sessions with a severe case of alcohol poisoning, Brad suddenly felt “dead sober.” He hadn’t been sober like this in years.
“There was somebody sitting next to me in bed. I don’t remember what they looked like or anything; I just remember white. And I remember being told specifically, ‘Brad, God knows you and He loves you.’”
At this point in Brad’s life, he’d decided that if there was a God, “He probably hates my guts,” so this proclamation struck him hard.
“This person told me that God loved me and that I can have a better life, and I have a choice right now to either continue the path that I was on, which would lead to my complete destruction and death, or I could choose another path which would unfold itself. And that’s all I was told,” Brad said.
Immediately afterward, Brad was “dead drunk again, and vomiting.”