An Unfolding Path
After a two-week hangover, Brad went back to work. He wasn’t sure what to think of the manifestation he’d had, but he figured it might have been a hallucination from the alcohol and the drugs. It had seemed far too real, however, and something in his gut told him it had really happened. He told the story to a friend at work, not thinking much of it.
His friend, however, took him seriously and proceeded to describe what angels were like in her religion.
“So they don’t have wings?” Brad asked.
“No, we don’t believe in that,” she said.
“Something in my mind clicked or popped or something,” Brad recalled. “Right then my heart was like, 'Dude, this is the truth. This is it.'”
They began discussing more about their beliefs, and Brad was horrified to discover that many of the opinions he’d developed about God and theology lined up with what his Latter-day Saint co-worker was telling him.
Not long afterward, one of Brad's closest friends invited him to a stake conference at the Ogden Tabernacle. Brad was eager to go in order to prove to himself his long-held negative stereotype of Latter-day Saints and to shake the new feelings creeping over him.
Brad intentionally dressed the “antithesis of what you would think the generic Latter-day Saint person is.” He left in his gauges and septum ring and didn’t shave. He wore a black button up shirt with a Led Zeppelin tie and black baggy jeans.
“This is going to be great,” Brad thought. “People are going to hate my guts.”
Brad, about 2006, in a similar outfit to the one he wore when he intentionally dressed the "antitheses" of a stereotypical Latter-day Saint.
Brad walked in, however, and was greeted with handshakes and warm smiles. He says he thought, “Stop trying to be nice, people! Stop destroying my stereotype of you guys!”
Then, to make matters worse, Brad sat down and looked up at the stand. Sitting there in a white shirt and tie and a long ponytail was one of his old drug-dealers. The man was speaking that day—sharing his story of leaving and returning to the church he’d grown up in.
“He’s bearing his testimony and I can’t help but feel it driving in here,” Brad said, pointing to his heart. “And I [was] just trying to fight it tooth and nail. I really [was], and I [was] failing.”
After the conference, the friend who had invited him approached him with two elders and said, “Your first lesson is tomorrow.”
“No, no, no,” Brad said. “I did not agree to this. I told you I was not ready for discussions or anything else.”
“I’ll feed you dinner,” his friend said. That’s all it took.
“The Lord . . . gave me the two best elders I could possibly have,” Brad said. He told the elders up front, “Before you guys rattle anything off about the Church to me, I’m going to tell you straight up, I’m going to know if you’re lying to me if you don’t know the answer to my questions . . . don’t even try it. If you don’t know, tell me you don’t know. If you know it, tell it.”
Throughout several months of lessons, Brad would call the elders with questions when he got off the swing shift at work at one or two in the morning. The elders always answered his calls and often stayed up talking with him until their alarm went off at 6:30 am.
“They would help me think things through on a logical basis to help me kind of clear out those spiritual cobwebs that had been building up for a long time,” Brad said.
It was a long road. Brad had a lot of questions and doubts, and for a long time, he didn’t realize that drinking and smoking wouldn’t be compatible with joining the Church. He just never realized there was anything wrong with it. Through the process of time, however, he was able to give it up.
His co-workers rallied around him and did his work while he studied the gospel during his shift. “My boss was cool with it because although she’s inactive, she’s still a member and still has a love for the Church,” Brad said.