We Are Stronger Together – Bryar Croad
My name is Bryar, and I have been attending LIFE my whole life, and have grown up in the most incredible family. I didn’t really ever feel like I had a ‘story’, something worth sharing, but once I thought about it, ‘Stronger Together’ is my story. My story is one of connection, and how connection has shaped my world.
Throughout my teenage years I decided to skip Epic Youth (LIFE’s Youth Ministry). I didn’t fall of the rails, I didn’t walk away from my faith – I simply enjoyed hanging out with my school friends on a Friday night. I was heavily involved in performing arts which meant the rehearsals on Fridays were my priority. Being the eldest of three, going to Epic wasn’t ingrained into our family Friday nights and so I simply didn’t think about it. However, I had a cousin that went every week, and he asked me a couple of times but when I went I preferred my normal way of life to this.
Once school life came to an end those school friendships faded, my school co-curricular activities ended and I found myself in a lonely place. I started university and adapted to that new lifestyle – being a people person I craved the social aspect but didn’t have a desire to attend university events as I knew those weren’t the environments I wanted to be in.
I found myself struggling through my first year of a business degree. I got to a stage that the couple of friendships I had made weren’t enough. I felt like I wasn’t engaging in a hobby and that really had to change. I remember during that year, I had a conversation with my Mum and told her I didn’t want a 21st because I didn’t have anyone to invite. This was a big moment for me, and I knew I needed to make small steps for that to change.
So, I joined the Choir at LIFE. In the past joining the creative team at LIFE seemed too hard, but now that I was able to drive myself around and was more independent, so the opportunity was grasped with both hands.
At first it was scary and a little intimidating but the connection was just what I needed. It was a breath of fresh air! Every Wednesday night, off to choir rehearsals I went. That soon turned into being a part of the drama team, which soon turned into being on the dance team… and before I knew it I was back in my creative fit, only this time for a purpose bigger than myself!
I sung in the choir at our LIFE Conference event and it was during this event I got a word from my Aunty. She said that God had spoken to her and given her a vision. That I was standing there and God put his hand on my shoulder, He gave me the opportunity to go all in and dig deeper into everything He had for me. That I had a decision to make.
Later that year at Sistas Conference I made that decision, the decision to go ALL IN. I had been a Christian my whole life but this was a decision beyond that, not just to believe in Him, but to believe He had the best future for me. A future bigger than I could imagine.
Soon after this step I found myself on the Epic Youth leadership team, which is LIFE’s Friday night youth event for high schoolers, and then I was church staff. The next year of my life was so exciting. Every day I was meeting new people. People my age and passionate about pursuing something bigger. I was learning a lot and had a new confidence which I found myself naturally bringing into university. This affected my ability to chat to new people and make more genuine relationships. As these church and university friendships developed I found myself having girls I could go to when things got difficult, when life was in the ‘too hard basket’.
I made a range of friends, and was really purposeful in making sure I didn’t just slot into one group but had girl friends from every walk of life. This allows me to have a range of experience and advice to choose from when something comes up. I also found myself with opportunities to give advice to others. Showing them that with connection comes purpose, fun and freedom.
In November 2017, I stood in a room with 100 of my closest friends and family. It was my 21st. I looked around and was blown away by how much had changed since the 18-year-old me declared I couldn’t have a 21st. God had moved in my life, the decision for me to go all in, get connected and be myself through it all had some incredible benefits.
I am so grateful for the Sistahood in my life. One I can go to in the good times and the bad. I sit here today not with a ‘full on’ testimony where my life did a 360, but instead a simple life decision that can let me confidently say “We are stronger together”.