Today we all said goodbye to an awesome man, Chris Bradford.
He was a loving husband, caring and supportive son, and a pioneer among men advocating for victims of intimate partner violence.
I met Chris in July of 2008 when he showed up at a Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau training I was conducting. He was hungry to learn and had an overflowing passion to support survivors and victims of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.
Chris was one of only a handful of men that showed up and participated whole heartedly in an effort to engage other men in turning the tide of violence against women and girls.
He had courage and determination to make a difference. And he did. He leaves a legacy and he clearly touched many lives in his short time with us.
The primary challenge for me today is realizing that even being a champion for others, as Chris was, we also have our own struggles. We can advocate and participate in rallies and gain accreditation, but we are alone with our own internal battles to fight.
Chris, at 42, was apparently so consumed in his own fight that he decided he couldn’t win. He forgot for a moment how awesome he was. It is with a heavy heart to say… Chris took his own life. How? We don’t know. It isn’t important.
What is important is we all (especially men) need to learn how to ask for help.
I keep asking myself how I missed the signs that Chris was struggling. We talked at length about how to help men change their behavior, but we never asked each other how we were doing ourselves.
Chris knew how much I appreciated his help, his support and his courage, but I never told him I loved him. And I do love Chris. He is my brother in Christ and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.
Yes. Chris was a Believer. But like all of us (believer or not) we can become isolated which is exactly what the enemy wants. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy us. For me, this is even more reason why we need each other.
Chris didn’t ask for help from anyone that we know of. Maybe he struggled like every one of us thinking, “I’m a man. I don’t need help.” Maybe he felt he had his life under control and the enemy caught him at a weak moment.
The bottom line is this. We need to be willing to ask for help and we have to be willing to really dig in to get to know our brothers (and sisters).
Every man (and women) has a story. We live together. We work together. We have church and Bible study together. But do we really know what each other is dealing with when we are left alone?
Whether we are believers in a risen Savior or not, many of us have experienced the enemy’s tactics; making us feel weak, insignificant and alone. This is why it is so important to realize that we are here to help each other.
In the beginning, God created man so He (our Creator) could be in relationship with us. He loves us completely. He did not design us to be alone, but to love and support one another.
So today I say to each and every one of my family members, my friends, and especially my wife (who I do not tell enough), I love you.
We all need the reminder that we are loved. Especially on a day like today.
I love how Chris’ wife Dana shared how God showed her His love in the following post a few days after he died.
Yesterday after seeing Chris for the last time, I returned home just before a big thunderstorm. Within 5 minutes of me entering our home, the rain began. My home was full of guests bringing me and my family love and support. I stepped outside on our deck and let God cry on me. I lifted my face and arms to heaven and let Him wash over me. It’s not often that it downpours (this) heavily with rain and thunder and the sun shining (all) at the same time. God and I wept together and I was the most drenched by His tears. (As I stepped back indoors) I was told my face looked different and that was because I was kissed by God and covered in His tears. I stepped back into the rain (for more).
God does love us so much and He does cry with us now as we say goodbye to Chris.
I choose to believe that our God is so awesome that He is now holding Chris. Reminding Chris how awesome he is in God’s eyes.
Going forward let us remember Chris for his pioneer spirit and his awesome heart for others. Chris always put our needs before his own.
Let us also keep Dana and Chris’ family in our daily prayers and consider helping Dana pay for today’s awesome service with a donation to the Fundraiser for Dana Bradford.
How do we know that God has got us? He shows us by revealing His love for each and every one of us… through… each and every one of us.
Chris said it perfectly when he said goodbye. “Be awesome to each other.”