I started drinking alcohol at the age of 14. I don’t know why, but I was the sibling in my family that was the most easily influenced by the scene. What weakness! #insecurity101.
As a growing teenager I definitely went through some ups and downs. I had the most feral mouth and always found myself doing anything I could to get validation from males and to get attention and connection from the girl species.
In all my myriads of confusion, I recall a friend who was always there to remind me that there was another way to live.
Stephen Bruce (aka “Brucey”) became my best friend in those years. This South African born extrovert struck me as a dude who really cared, had a zeal for adventure, and had a heart for his Maker. He also had his struggles, but I was always knew that he was a young man who was chasing a different path. I recall at a New Years eve party when all the boys were having pre-party drinks, and as one of the youngest grommies there I was offered a few beers. Brucey would linger behind me and say things like “Does it taste good mate? Whats in your hand?”. I’m pretty sure he was getting on the sauce that night as well, but he always looked out for me since I was a little bit younger. Nights like those my parents didn't know where I was or where I was staying. They had no idea that I was getting wasted on free booze with a loose crowd. But, I think they had some assurance believing that I was with Brucey. What. A. Man.
Our mateship grew rapidly through the years, especially through surf trips and our rock band that we played in (3to1 RIP). Brucey was literally the only friend I had in high school that I could be completely honest with about heart battles that would war inside me; stuff with girls, issues at home, run-ins with people at school. I could also be open about dreams that I had.
We both went through a reforming period at the age of 16 and grew the courage to be part of a faith program at our secular highschool. At this stage we were both involved in a youth group which surrounded us with a healthy counter-cultural community with solid mentors. At our school youth event in Warners Bay I led music and Brucey preached, in front of the whole school! Ha, talk about taking on the beast together. Moments like these really cemented for me the decisions that I wanted to make and the person I wanted to become for my future.
We had a falling out in my later teen years; two strong minded extroverts colliding with contrasting ideas on theology and lifestyle caused a slight fracturing in the companionship. Nevertheless soon after we were graced with reconciliation and a deeper sense of understanding.
It was so epic to venture on a 3 day surf trip through Wales. I’d never been there before. Curiosity killed the stagnant cat, and I committed wholeheartedly to getting some bro-time and getting amonsgst the mechanical waves at the Snowdonia Wave Garden. The wave lasts for about 12 seconds. Its fast but does lack a bit of power. You have to trick your mind to surf into a pier and not away from it. After a while you get a groove and start hacking up the wall. It costs about $10 AUD (including board and wetsuit) a wave over an hour period. Just one of those things you have to do once in your life, at least. Steve and I could only book in surf sessions on different days, hence the reason we could take some photos on eachother. Worked out well. We could give each other tips on how to read the wave better from a land perspective.
We wanted to climb up Snowden Mountain. Its the highest peak in all of the UK. From talking to other travellers in the carpark it looked like we were going to run out of time because it apparently too 5 hours minimum to complete. Bummed out, we started driving out of the carpark in despair. Suddenly we looked at each other and decried, “Lets do it”. So, we ran up the mountain in 1.5 hours. Lol, it was hectic. What a work out. Yeah, as humanity we are stronger together, and with Bruce’s determination and drive he kept me thundering up the Welsh mountain.
I love Brucey.
What a man.
I see such a consistency in his being.
He’s got a wife and two beautiful kids.
He’s now pastoring in a thriving church in Birmingham England.
Time alone in the Welsh mountains enabled us to reflect on where God has brought us on this journey as brothers.
My questions to consider: Do you have friends that can offer you correction? Do you have friends that really know you? Do you have friends that truly desire the best for you?
My thought: Cherish you're closest friends. Make time. Adventure together. Don't let the fire die. Friends that you have history with know you in a unique way. Today, send some love to your high school best mate.