Book of Brad Farley
Chapter 6: "The Best of Both Lives"
Once back in college, everything was great. I spent my time on campus, taking a reduced workload because I had front loaded my college schedule. I had great times with great friends without a care in the world (except for some anxiety about landing my first career-job…again self-identity crisis). Kellie found a job in Cleveland and we spent most of our nights together. During the nights we weren’t together, I spent them heavily drinking with friends and flirting with college girls. The drinking and its inhibitions gave me “an excuse” to make poor decisions that were really satisfying that inner void to feel accepted/attractive/worthy of someone’s time. I ended up having varying degrees of affairs with a variety of women, multiple times, in the confines of campus, all while Kellie was organizing her life around my social calendar.
The horrible thing (of many) about my selfishness is that it was never satisfying. Never enough, I wanted to live the life I wanted with Kellie, but then live a separate life of indulging lust. That’s the issue with sin—it continues to lead you down a path to shame and spiritual death.
There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs14:12)
Even in laughter the heart may be sorrowful, and mirth may end in heaviness. (Proverbs14:13)
But I got away with it. Like many men, I easily compartmentalize my life by justifying or simply burying my actions. I was driven purely by selfishness and it would take a seismic shift years later to ultimately face my worldly reckoning for all of my poor choices.
While my social and scholastic lives were content, my upcoming professional life was struggling. I had been turned away by the company I had interned with—their rejection cut me to the core. My internship reviews were glowing and I worked hard (by a 20-year old’s standards). I was continually reaffirmed in my intelligence and talent and several of my buddies landed opportunities with the company; so, when I received my rejection letter, lots of feelings of inadequacy flooded back and further perpetuated my driving lust and need for affirmation from the opposite gender.
I pursued a position with another large corporation and it was exhausting. Lots of bureaucratic red tape drew the whole process out over an entire calendar year. I would go on separate interviews, receive job offers, and blindly decline them as I waited for the final decision from this large conglomerate. The anxiety and my self-worth’s dependence on this position raked my thoughts and mood for much of my senior year.
There are a lot of moments I wish I could have back. Time with friends and time with Kellie spent worrying—even, obsessing—over what the future held. I had no trust that anything would happen for my benefit, unless I caused it. Let me tell you, that the fear and uncertainty of a random and chaotic universe is crippling. Having an unexercised faith in a loving God leads to massive worry and doubt. Not only do I mourn for atheists for their potential everlasting destination, but also for the fear that randomness can cause. When someone dear dies tragically, or our culture’s frayed ends become irreconcilable tears in its moral fabric, the lack of the “safety net” of God makes a person’s fall much more terrifying.
The year would end and I had achieved all my social and scholastic goals. I had become president of my fraternity, been recognized by organizations on campus, passed my classes, partied pretty hard, been with a series of women, while finding someone I could live my life with. As I look back and write many of those words, I feel this hard pit in my stomach. A regret that would, thankfully, set me up for my eventual salvation but is still dreadful to relive.
*Side note: stories of redemption are concurrently glorious and difficult. Often, “born again” Christians have a new zest for life after their true baptism, but it quickly wanes as we look back on our past and realize the damage caused. Just re-reading this chapter, I feel myself slipping into that mournful, tempered tone, but it’s important that I’m clear here: my true conversion to Christianity has given me the most joy I have ever had in my life. My present and my future are much brighter than ever before, but my past is darker than ever before, too. So, recounting my past makes me sound weary and defeated—and in some ways, I am—but predominantly it is the darkest night that makes you appreciate the bright morning. It is the pain of my past that reinforces the hope of today. If you are struggling with the reconciliation of your past, do not feel pressured to feign positivity about it; however, do not let a difficult past make its mark on a better present. Remember your past, but leave it where it belongs…behind you*
After graduation, Kellie and I took a flier, moved to Florida on a hope and prayer, and I eventually….FINALLY… got the job I had held out for. A prestigious rotational program with a variety of awesome perks, I had found my professional identity. That, too, soon got into my head and my ego.