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photo of LisaLisa Bradley 's Journey Story

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn’t believe that a “god” of some sort existed. I went to a Christian church with my family starting at birth. Growing up, I think my view of God was shaped more by George’s Burn’s “God” movies than anything else. I thought of him as a white-haired, grandfather figure in the sky who was benevolent and and all-seeing, but wasn’t very close to me or part of my life.

When I was a teenager, I started asking all those meaning of life questions many teenagers ask and found myself drawn to read the Bible for some answers. I would hide away in my room and lock the door because I was afraid that my sister would tease me. I was going through a tough time and needed some answers and the stories about Jesus in the Bible began to draw me in. Suddenly the presence of god and Christ became very real and very near. I would spend hours in prayer, hanging out with God, feeling like the windows of heaven were opening up and I was communing with the divine. God didn’t seem far away or disinterested anymore. Relating to God through the stories of Christ helped me feel more connected to him. I began to feel that I had a spiritual presence, a father, and a friend with me always, talking with me, and showing me truth, love, peace and guidance.

However, as time passed, without realizing it, I started becoming more entrenched in religion, than in the presence of God. I began to believe that I had found absolute truth and anything contradicting it was false. I threw myself into the life of my church and did everything I could to become closer to God. But somehow by trying to box God in and settle on specific religious beliefs and practices, I began to lose him. I also began to box myself in so tightly and started to worry so much about believing the right thing and always doing the right thing that it was killing my sense of love and joy and freedom that I originally found in Christ.

In my mid-20’s, through some classes I was taking at my church, I began to learn how to listen to God’s voice again and hear what he was speaking to my heart. This was scary for me – to give up religion and rely again on the voice that was coming from inside me, which sometimes contradicted what some of the “religious” people were saying. God’s words to me were again of love, great joy, beauty, and wonder. I started to experience him in places I hadn’t thought of before – nature, movies and music. I began to see how his presence was woven into everything around me and was deep inside me, even when I wasn’t aware of it. Hiking one day, I had an experience of seeing a sunset in which Christ revealed to me all his beauty and glory and in that moment I felt him so close and intimate and deep in my heart and mind in places that I knew no human being would ever go. I felt like I was on a honeymoon with Jesus!

I again began to seek out God’s presence and listen for his voice and eventually, I felt that God was telling me to leave the church. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could I be a Christian and not go to church? Well, it helped that I moved and didn’t have a church to go to. Although, I’ve visited many churches over the last few years and work with kids at a house church, I continually feel God leading me to rely on His voice and His guidance and to find freedom in Him, rather than tying myself to a religion and others’ beliefs and expectations. That’s why I find being involved with the Journey Center so freeing. I can come as I am and believe whatever I do and have conversations with people who don’t try to force opinions on me. Here I am free to seek God in my own way.

I don’t have all the answers to life’s questions anymore. I struggle with many of the things I used to believe and the Bible’s reliability and what truth really is and how can I ever really know it. But through all this questioning and seeking, I’ve never lost my desire to open myself up to this amazingly beautiful, fascinating, mysterious, alluring God-presence, whatever it may be. My taste of the divine has been too beautiful, too glorious, too wonderful to ever turn back to a life where I am satisfied without it. So, I move on, asking God to reveal all that he is to me and trying to be willing to accept whatever answers or experiences may come.

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Lisa Bradley currently works for the Journey Center as the Publicity Coordinator. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Sonoma State University in 2000, but soon after discovered a different passion. She has been studying website development and graphic design for the past several years. She is now pursuing the growing desire to provide avenues for people to connect with each other and God through technology. Lisa currently lives in Marysville, Washington where she runs a website development business and is pleased to be able to continue her work with the Journey Center from afar.

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