photo via google images via bradytoops.com
I posted a link to a short article about Brady Toops being on The Bachelorette on Facebook a couple of days ago. What I said in that post was, “I used to take care of him in the church nursery. That is all.”
My FB friends and I were all humored by that. It’s funny. In that way that makes you feel really really old…
But I want to tell you about some other things that have nothing (and then maybe everything) to do with Brady being on The Bachelorette. I want to tell you about community, courage and support.
The people I’ve talked to around this place where Brady grew up are excited about his career in music, his talent, and they support him. You might expect criticism from way up here–about Brady’s choice to do a reality TV show–but that hasn’t seemed to be the case. I’m sure some locals are judging this decision, but for the most part, people seem a bit unflustered by the whole thing.
You would think we’d be a bunch of small town hicks who get super excited about such things in one way or another, but the publicity is not what people are talking about. I’m around to hear a lot of it, because of where I work and how I live right in the center of all the people who make up this community. People are simply spreading the word, as we do, when someone from here does something out there. Oh make sure you watch Brady on ABC tonight! (It’s like they don’t even know there are other people on the show. It’s kind of adorable.)
We small town New London-ers are actually quite a unique group for, well, coming from a small town in Minnesota. We are a hodge podge, a melting pot–farm kids, athletes, artists, hipsters, career-focus-ers, dreamers, seekers–and dear friends.
The reason I’m terribly proud of this place where I grew up and came back to is because people are always doing something. We are, at the heart and soul of us, risk-takers. I mean, we have our quiet folk who lead quiet lives, but for the most part, they too are out meeting up together, changing things, doing good, being creative…here and around the world. We are simple people, doing extraordinary things.
I met someone not-from-here once who asked where I grew up and when I told her, she said, “There is just something so different about you people, from around there…in a really good way. I can even guess that someone is from there before they tell me…you’re just…different.”
I didn’t know what to make of that at the time. At some gut level, I got it. But I have never really been able to explain what it is. It feels like an ego-driven pride thing to say, “Why yes, that’s so true… WE ARE SO AWESOME!”
But there is something unique I can’t quite name. I’ve called a lot of places Home, and nothing was the same.
There is a lot of faith around here. It is a common thread among many, this belief that grace and love and hope are real things given as gifts by a loving God. And of course there are those of us who take these beliefs and make them Terribly Religious and muck it up with self-righteousness, but for the most part, it is a pure and simple lovely thing. It is something that Brady is clearly vocal about. (I mean like, literally, he sings about God. For a job.)
The point I’m making is (finally) about to be made.
Because Brady is who he is–a small town Christian singer/songwriter who moved to Nashville to sing about God–it confused his fans that he would do a show like The Bachelorette. I saw a lot of it online, the questioning. I get it. None of the life-sucking aspects of the show are lost on me, or any of us here. A lot of his fans felt like this was a Wrong Thing. But for the most part, we from his hometown don’t mind a bit that Brady chose to do this. We’re all, Have at it, kiddo, while followers of his music career across the globe and strangers online roll their eyes, we just don’t. Because as much as this is a faith-filled community of sometimes too Religious people, we are also a community that allows people to live. Just go. Fly. Do stuff. Go ahead, even do it the hard way. Live and learn. Come back and visit, we’ll hug you. Because when you do that? You get to cheer on a kid from home and watch him do some pretty amazing stuff in the midst of something that could be nothing other than ridiculous over-dramatized produced TV fodder.
Last night, during the awkward rose ceremony, he left. Brady Toops left the show on the first night. He had shown up for a girl who he knew a lot about and when she wasn’t the Bachelorette after a twisted game of rejection, he left. He went and asked if he could go find the one that didn’t get enough votes to stay, the one he showed up for in the first place when he set aside the fear of judgment and, most likely, the fear that it was all a huge mistake. (I mean, he was about to be That Dude–the vocally token “Christian Guy” on reality TV. THAT NEVER WORKS.)
I guess he could have stayed longer to make sure more viewers learned his name, he could have focused solely on growing his career despite some inevitable haters, but he didn’t. He got in a car and asked to be taken to Britt, the one that he felt a connection to all along. Did he know that would cause such a response and that his story would be followed online and through the show for more nights than he was a contestant? Probably. He’s not clueless. And still, I’m guessing it was more simple than that, since that’s how we roll around here. At the end of the day, he’s just a guy like the rest of us, fumbling through random experiences and trying not to mess up too much. This is what makes us proud, when we witness the story of a hometown kid like us.
He went to see about a girl.
Atta boy, ya risk-taker. Atta boy.