It's an Everyday Thang

Sometimes people say that “youth is wasted on the young.” I don’t know that I agree with that, but I can tell you that youth is wasted on the drugged-up young: I was one of them. I lived a very different life when I was in my mid twenties. I blinded my heart and dulled my emotions with substance abuse on a daily basis. Getting high wasn’t about the high. The only place I sought to find my value and worth was with validation from women. Cocaine gave me the energy I needed to be at the party, no matter how long the party lasted. I believed that if somebody wanted to be with me, even if for only a night, it was better than not being wanted at all. And if I could say "at least she wants to be with me right now" (whoever she was that I ended up with that night)... well that meant something. A lot of people don’t realize how much money you can make dealing drugs. Managing that money well, however, is a completely different story. I did work in several bars, which enabled me to sell more drugs and hang out with my friends at the same time.

Believe it or not, I was working on my Masters of Divinity at the time. I was the rare combination… Drug Dealer and Seminary Student. You don’t see a lot of people selling coke and working on a Masters of Divinity together, and for good reason. It doesn’t work. Even as I studied scripture and theology, I lied, cheated and stole. This powerful hypocrisy lead me to hurt the people I cared about most in my life.

I was completely disconnected from my God, I had no sense of worth or value, and I was as lost in depression as I could ever possibly be. And the shame that came along with knowing that I was where I was in life because of the choices I made was like walking around with the rotting carcass of a two ton elephant strapped to my back.

Interestingly enough, this behavior is not uncommon. It’s almost cliché, except for the fact that it was my life and for the most part, I felt like I could not escape. I don't tell you this to glamorize my life story, far from it. I believed I was a loser, that I deserved that life, and that I would be dead by thirty. One afternoon while I was taking a shower I collapsed to the bottom of my bathtub, weeping and crying out to my God for help. When I emerged from the water and steam filled bathroom, I was determined to come up with a plan and execute it at any cost. Four months later I sold everything, except what I could fit into my Toyota Camry, and drove across the country to crash at my parents house for about a year.

What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that I had the choice to change my life, every moment of every day. Even though I was in a living hell, the fear of change was more powerful than the pain that I had created… until it wasn’t. However, even after months of the brilliant clarity that came with sobriety, there were days that I wanted to return to that lifestyle because it was comfortable. I may have been messed up and completely self-destructive, but at least I knew how to handle life in that mode. As a sober person, everything was new and brought with it a sense of intense fear. The simplest of tasks, like scheduling appointments on a calendar seemed like it took the energy of escaping the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Every day was a choice. Connect with my God, get centered, and choose a new way, or return to where I had come from. Sixteen years later and I don’t know how to express in writing how rewarding it is to have stayed the course. The only thing that comes to mind is to say the names of my two little girls and maybe you might be able to recognize what is wrapped up in this imagery. Life.

Today I value myself; connect with the Divine hourly; have deep and meaningful relationships with the most rewarding friends a guy could have; and know my purpose, as my life and income are wed to helping others make their own changes, discover work that matters and learn to love themselves. I still make mistakes, but I’ve learned how to process through them in a healthy manner. Living an extraordinary life isn’t a one time decision. It’s a choice that’s made every single morning followed by action steps that back up that choice like powerful punches landing on the jaw of ‘the comfortable’.

Maybe you want someone else to make you feel better about yourself. Maybe you are at the end of your rope and feel like you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. You do. Today you have the most power you will ever have… the power of a choice. Maybe you begin exercising the power of that choice with a simple prayer asking for help.

It could be that you’ve never been to those depths, but at some point you decided that you wanted a better life for yourself, one with purpose and meaning that energizes and compels you. Now you’re wondering why things haven’t changed yet. Is it possible that you’ve forgotten that living a meaningful life is a choice one must make everyday? It doesn’t take a new year to make changes, just a choice.

When you woke up this morning, what did you choose? If it wasn’t clear, concise, and followed by actions, chances are high that it wasn’t an empowering choice. Here’s another cliché for you… thinking you’re not making a choice is most certainly a choice.

If you are interested in subscribing to the mailing list and receiving these via email, simply click under ‘subscribe to the mailing list’. _______________________________________________________________________________________ "The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." - Abraham Lincoln

"This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live." - Omar Bradley

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor Frankl

Special thanks to Mike McHargue for an open conversation and help in refining this piece

One Day Self-Love Challenge

Yes, I do believe that one of the single most effective and powerful things we can do to participate in the Divine’s transformation of our own lives is to learn to love ourselves more.  Time and time again, as I work with people, when we get to the core of the problem, be it limiting belief, addiction, etc., it is a lack of self-love.  The thing that’s behind the thing that’s behind the thing is that they have placed a very low value on their life and don’t believe they deserve to be happy.    It is the most messed up thing of all and most people are barely aware of it. I genuinely think people want to be happy.  Yet deep down in places they haven’t explored often, they don’t believe they deserve to be happy or are worth it.  It’s the most devious trick in humanity.  Somewhere in our life we were told that we aren’t worth it.  We either were treated that way by those who were supposed to love and protect us when we were young and vulnerable, or because of decisions we made in the past, mistakes, we buy into the lie that we don’t have value and we aren’t worth being loved.  And yet we can spend our whole lives trying to prove that we are worth being loved and go to incredible lengths to try to show everyone that we are of value.

But you don’t have to prove anything.  Let me say it again.  You have nothing to prove.  The fact that God created you is enough.  That oxygen flows in and out of your lungs, bringing life to your blood cells, is enough.  What if instead of constantly trying to prove ourselves to ourselves and everyone around us, we just acknowledged that because we are alive and loved by the Divine, that we are enough.

Tomorrow is the one day self-love challenge.  Now if you just read that sentence and rolled your eyes a little, I understand.  I used to respond in the same manner.  And then I realized that being a control freak and a perfectionist, and being harder on myself than anyone else hadn’t really gotten me the things in life I want… peace, happiness, self-control, etc.  Has the way you’ve been living your life taken you to the heights of your dreams?  So why not take one day and commit to loving yourself?  Why not take one day to be completely and utterly gracious with yourself?  Why not take one day and instead of criticizing yourself for making a mistake, simply affirm that you love yourself anyways, just the way you are?  Here are a few places to start...

1.  Make the commitment to love yourself for 1 day:  Make the commitment and choose love for yourself.  Do it now.  If love is the greatest gift we have to give, what could be possibly wrong with loving yourself for one day in all your thoughts and actions?  Go ahead and literally write it out right now or type it in an email to yourself or send it as a text to yourself.  "Tomorrow I will commit my entire day to practicing self love."

2.  Affirm yourself verbally throughout the day:  Think of the most loving thing you could say to yourself, and repeat regularly throughout the day.  Get up and repeat it OUT LOUD to yourself first thing.  Write it on a post it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror before you go to bed tonight.  If you are having trouble coming up with something loving to say to yourself, try starting here.

3.  Forgive yourself immediately after any intentional or unintentional mistake:  So you just screwed up and maybe no one else knows it, but you do.  Immediately forgive yourself.  If it helps, you can allow yourself to feel your remorse and then say... "I totally and completely forgive myself for ____________________ and I release myself of all my anger and all my disappointment."  Try it.  Forgiveness is incredibly powerful and it is the one of the most freeing things to experience.  In fact, maybe you want to start your day by forgiving yourself for everything you've done that you have yet to forgive yourself for.

4.  Give yourself a gift:  Choose one thing to do for yourself that you know brings you life and you know cares for your soul and heart.  Maybe you love going for a run but haven't had time lately.  Maybe there is a good book you just haven't allowed yourself to read lately because you haven't had time.  Read it.  Maybe there is a friend that always brings you life that you haven't spent time with or talk to lately.  Ask them to hang out or simply call them and just talk.

Taking the one day self-love challenge is a gift that you can give to yourself with no strings attached.  It's only one day.  How bad could it possibly be?  A better question and motivation is, how incredible might it be?  What if you discover some things about yourself?  Wouldn't it be worth it?

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me via the website and I will be glad to get back to you before you wake up tomorrow.  What do you say?  ARE YOU WORTH IT?


“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”  - C.G. Jung

"Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion. "- Margo Anand

"Well-ordered self-love is right and natural." - Thomas Aquinas

If you are interested in subscribing to the mailing list and receiving these via email, simply click under ‘subscribe to the mailing list’… all the cool kids are doing it.

It usually starts with Forgiveness

If you’ve lived on this planet for any amount of time, you’ve been wronged at some point.  If you’ve lived on this planet for any extended amount of time, then you’ve been wronged by someone on the deepest level.  It happens to all of us.  And we’ve all completely let someone else down somewhere along the line as well. When we’ve been wronged on the deepest level, taken advantage of, harmed, or betrayed it can seem like life will never be right again.  But it will.  And it most likely will need to start with forgiveness.  Forgiveness is always about us, not the victimizer.  That person doesn’t need your forgiveness in order to make peace with what they’ve done.  But you’ll need to forgive that person in order to make peace in your own hear and life.  Forgiveness is about letting go of our hurt, our pain and our bitterness so that it doesn’t poison our hearts.  We’ve all heard this before, but that’s because it is true.

We can’t hold onto pain, anger and bitterness and at the same time be free to accept love, the Divine, and growth.  When we hold on to the anger and bitterness, we are blocking the ability for love and growth to move in our lives.

Someone once said that forgiving means forgetting.  Well I think that is total BS.  When have you ever truly forgotten when someone else harmed you?  And why would you forget that?  Forgetting has nothing to do with it and not forgetting can help guide us safely in interactions with that person in the future.  However forgiving does mean letting go and making room in your heart for healing.

You might say, ‘Brad, you have no idea what this person did.  It’s unspeakable.’  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that you were hurt and wronged in such a terrible way.  But holding on to the anger and bitterness will never make you right.  It won’t change what has happened.  It won’t heal you.  It won’t bring some semblance of peace back into your life.  It will only drag you to the bottom of a deep, cold and lonely ocean floor of malice.

I have found that forgiveness is always a choice at first, never a feeling.  Rarely have I been wronged and immediately felt like forgiving.  But at some point I made the choice to forgive that person even though I didn’t feel like.  And then, every time the pain or anger comes up, I continue again and again to forgive that person.  Until one day, the feeling is there and I find that I have completely forgiven that person.  And do you know how I’m aware that I’ve completely forgiven them?  The bitterness is gone.  And its not just because time has passed.  Its because I’ve chosen to forgive.

That person that’s done those horrible things to you?  They may never know that you’ve forgiven them.  They don’t have to.  The forgiveness isn’t for them… it’s for you.  This is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life.  And I need reminded of it every time someone crosses me.  Given a choice between malice and forgiveness, I choose forgiveness.


Today I will choose forgiveness.  I choose to let go of my stong hold on the pain, anger, and bitterness, and I choose to receive love, hope, and joy.  Choosing forgiveness means healing for me. 

Loving Yourself

Why all the talk about loving yourself?  Because I firmly believe that until you learn to love yourself, you will always be limited in your ability to receive love from others and give love as well. Now I’m not talking about selfishness.  And I’m not talking about narcissism either.  Acting in selfish and narcissistic ways are not truly loving to one’s self.  Spoiling the inner ‘brat’ that cries and whines and always wants it selfish little ways is not the path to growth, peace, love, joy, etc.  So please don’t get confused as we talk about loving self.

I’m speaking of actual love.  Pure love for yourself.  The kind of love that is gracious and kind.  The kind of love that reaches in and accepts you just the way you are.  The kind of love that motivates us to become better people, not out of ‘shame’ or ‘should’ or ‘ought’… but out of kindness and compassion.  The kind of love that extends second, third, and fourth changes (and in some cases 107th chances).

Many religious people (and I’m talking about several world religions) mistakenly believe that their faith calls them to dislike or even hate themselves.  At the very least, they mistakenly believe that they must never think of themselves under any circumstances.  However, I just don’t find that to be a sustainable faith.  In fact, I believe that the more we love ourselves the more we are able to accept the love of the Divine.   The more we love ourselves, the more we see our own value and worth.  And the more we see our own value and worth, accepting love for ourselves, the more we are able to truly see the value and worth in others.  And of course, the more we see the value and worth in others, the more we are able to give to them from a wealth that is Divine.

The other side of that is if you don’t love and accept yourself, it will be extremely difficult to receive love from others and even from the Divine.  Why?  Because if you aren’t actively loving yourself, you won’t feel like you are worth the love of the Divine.  The coolest thing about God is that sometimes God breaks into our lives and allows us to actually feel Divine love.  Often times, this is the only thing that can help us to shift our perspective on loving ourselves.

So how can you begin to actively love yourself more today?  What are active ways that you show yourself that you love yourself?  Is there a self-destructive habit that you are addicted to that you can give up?  Is there a way you can affirm your health and thereby actively show yourself love?  Are there thought patterns that need to be addressed?  Is there an area of your life where you could apply some grace and stop beating yourself up?  Could you forgive yourself for something you've done or taken the blame for?  Could you just simply accept your body, just as it is?

It only takes the tiniest actions of self-love to start a bit of an avalanche.  And that’s one chain reaction worth setting in motion.


Today I choose to love myself.  I will extend myself grace and acceptance when otherwise I would normally choose criticism and shame.  Today I will choose to make at least one decision that actively shows myself love.

The Last Person We Forgive, needs it the most

We’ve all been wronged.  We’ve all been taken advantage of and hurt.  We all know that we will have to forgive that person that hurt us at some point.  Most of us are self aware enough to know that if we don’t learn to forgive those who wrong us, it will eventually eat us up inside and cause more harm.  So, often we make the decision to forgive someone before we actually ‘feel’ like forgiving them.  Then, eventually, after we continue to choose forgiveness for that person over and over again, we begin to feel like forgiving them. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.  But what I have found is that there is almost always one person we don’t forgive.  In most cases we don’t forgive this person because we don’t even think about forgiving them.  We may not even be aware that we are angry with, disappointed with, or disgusted with that person.  But we usually are, and that person needs forgiveness too.  I’m talking about forgiving ourselves.

When we’ve done wrong or we feel like we are responsible for harm or pain, emotionally or physically, that has come to someone else, we rarely extend ourselves the grace we would extend to others.  We feel like everyone else deserves a second chance or forgiveness but us.  We feel somehow like the things we’ve done just don’t deserve forgiveness.  But you do deserve it.  You deserve it for all the reasons why everyone else deserves it.  Because there is no healthy way to move forward from hurt and pain or wrong doing until forgiveness is extended.

It’s amazing to me the amount of grace we are willing to extend to other people, yet we aren’t willing to extend it to ourselves.  We don’t like to talk about it in those terms.  So instead we say things like, “I’m just a perfectionist” or “there are just some things I can’t accept from myself, like failure”.  Some of us even wear the term ‘perfectionist’ like a badge of honor, not realizing the perfectionism isn’t possible and only leads to a downward spiral of the psyche and our emotions.

Maybe you’ve made some mistakes.  Maybe people have even been emotionally or physically hurt by your mistakes.  Maybe you meant to or maybe it was completely unintentional.  Maybe you believe that what you’ve done is beyond forgiveness and that you don’t deserve a second chance.  Maybe you’re just becoming aware yourself that you have strong negative feelings toward yourself.  Whatever the case may be, I know a way forward.  Choose to forgive yourself.  You don’t have to feel like it.  You don’t have even have to want to do it.  Simply choose that you’re going to forgive yourself.  And maybe as you choose to forgive yourself over and over again, you’ll one day FEEL like forgiving yourself.  It’s a start down a wonderful path.


Today I choose to forgive myself for anyone I may have intentionally or unintentionally hurt.  I release myself of any and all anger or disappointment that I have with myself.  I deserve forgiveness.