Bradley Bridges is an Air Force Reserves veteran, a banker, and an accomplished singer/songwriter with a strong presence on Youtube and Spotify among other platforms. Although he can look back now and see “the where and the why” for all the twists and turns, the road leading to his present life of maturity, meaning, and true purpose wasn’t always an easy one. What follows is an inspirational journey that began almost three decades ago in a small farming community in northeast Louisiana.
The middle of three children, Bridges was dutifully fed biblical truths by loving parents and a Bible believing church while growing up in Rayville. As a teen and into his early 20s, in true prodigal son fashion, Bridges willfully spit out those truths, deciding instead that he was undecided, as far as organized religion was concerned.
What resulted was a deep, spiritual hunger that vaulted Bridges on a quest which ultimately resulted in a faith hard-won and true. Not only does he now sit at the Master’s table, Bridges’ writes and sings about his master for listeners to likewise feast on a powerful message of overcoming, of redemption, of forgiveness and grace.
Although raised a Christian, until his mid-20s, Bridges resisted committing his life to God. “Don’t get me wrong,” he continues. “In my younger years, I was considered a ‘good guy,’ and people probably thought I was a Christian because I went to church all the time.”
As he grew older, though, Bridges became resentful of all the rules in his life. “I felt I had enough rules between the rules at home, the rules at school, rules in general,” he relates. “I sure didn’t want all of the additional ‘do’s and don’ts’ that the church demanded.” So from his senior year of high school through college, his philosophy was to enjoy doing what felt right. It wasn’t a fulfilling existence, but it was exhausting, and Bridges says he began to slip academically, “due to a healthy night life and lots of Halo 2.”
Bereft of any definite direction in his life, Bridges joined the Air Force Reserves after his first two years of college, realizing it would reinforce the structure that had previously guided his life. During basic training, he turned to a life of prayer and attended church faithfully. The difference now, however, was that he chose to. No one was forcing him.
“My motives weren’t completely pure, though,” Bridges acknowledges, with a smile. “Church was the rare place you could go where no TIs (technical instructors) were screaming at you. It was like calling a time-out in the middle of all the chaos.” Even though his reasons for attending church were admitted suspect, for the first time in his life, he was there because he wanted to be.
After basic training, Bridges drifted back into spiritual limbo. He returned to college, changed his major to business, but still felt no firm direction in his life. “A few years earlier, before I had joined the Reserves, I’d picked up the guitar and took some lessons.” Feeling restless and searching for some kind of creative outlet, Bridges picked up his guitar and began writing songs in his down time. He had no plans or desires to share them with anyone, though.
About this time, Bridges was introduced to singer/songwriter/producer Monty Russell. Realizing a common interest, Bridges became an eager student of the craft and structure of songwriting. “Monty served as my mentor and producer,” he explains. They recorded Bridge’s country album Kill the Bottle, in Nashville, the summer of 2010. “It did well in my hometown, of course,” he grins, “but never made any widespread impact.” But he’d been bitten by the bug, and after graduation, decided to head to Nashville.
“In Nashville,” recalls Bridges, “I was completely, totally alone. I didn’t know a single soul.” And every single person there, it seemed, was chasing the same dream. “The competition in Nashville is almost inconceivable; everyone there is talented beyond belief. Everyone can write, and most are really good at it.”
For about six or seven months, Bridges slogged it out, thrusting upon himself a self-imposed pressure that became suffocating, stifling the very creative process he had moved to Nashville to nurture. He returned home, dreams unfulfilled, feeling defeated and disillusioned.
Depression set in. “I was completely broken at this point in my life,” recalls Bridges. “I put down my guitar, even considered burning it. I threw all my Kill the Bottle CDs in the dumpster. I quit taking phone calls and pretty much withdrew from my friends.” Searching for solid ground, something to hold on to, Bridges asked himself, “Well is this it? …Is this all there is to life? Sun comes up and the sun goes down and it all starts over tomorrow?”
Bridges’ quest for truth began with his Dad walking him through an in-depth Bible study beginning with Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in the New Testament by Jesus. “I mean I asked every question I could think of,” relates Bridges, “‘Is Jesus the only way?’ And if He is, ‘why is He the only way?’”
After intensive Bible study and an exhaustive list of questions definitively answered, Bridges found himself facing another roadblock – a feeling of total unworthiness. “My Dad, in his wisdom, pointed to the event of Paul on the road to Damascus,” he relates. “How Jesus met him on that road, admonished him, but ultimately forgave him for even killing Christians, how He used him for His purposes afterwards. I realized that if God could forgive him, He could forgive me for all the self-serving things I’d done, and the way I’d lived.” That night, Bridges knelt down beside his bed, and asked God to forgive him and take control of his life. His life hasn’t been the same since.
A LIFE OF MEANING
One evening about four months later, the phone rang. It was an old friend, telling Bridges about a new church plant, and asking if he would be on their worship team. Bridges’ love for music blossomed once more. “I had put that part of my life behind me,” he says, “because in Nashville, music had almost become like a god to me.”
With music in his life once more, but this time with a newfound perspective, Bridges eventually began putting pen to paper again, praying for God to take it and use it where He would, but never really thinking of cutting another album.
One day, Bridges shared the song “Set Me Free” with a trusted friend and encourager. “I played a rough recording from my iPhone,” he says. “After listening, he told me he wanted to invest in getting it recorded.” The offer was a total surprise. Bridges continues, “I took that as God saying, ‘This is where I want you to go. Trust me; let’s walk this thing out together.’”
Finally grounded and secure in what he believes, and in Whom he believes, Bridges says he hasn’t been the same since the night he surrendered his life. God’s hand in his life is no longer hidden. Always present before, but unacknowledged for too long, Bridges is now fully aware of His presence and leading. “There’s another way to live your life,” he smiles, “and it’s a lot better than the other way I did it.”
Bridges still resides in Northeast Louisiana with his wife Mary Elizabeth and serves on Christ Church West Monroe worship team when he’s not touring.
Source: Bayou Life article by LaRone Richardson