Learning and Becoming

I remember the halt as the ratcheting handbrake was yanked before the mouth of my family home. My 15-year-old self thought it was a dream to have a ute with as much character as Caden’s 4×4. The roar of the engine on any highway would dominate even a yelling conversation, so we rightly called the rusty, leviathan “Aslan”. It’s odd to think of how it was even possible to hear each other when Aslan’s mechanic belly would rumble whilst in park. But, despite the growling, for some reason with Caden, I always felt like I could be heard so clearly.

I grew up with Caden as my older “brother, from another mother”. As kids, our mums would never send us to the other’s house without a bottle of milk in hand. We loved to drink strawberry “pinky” milk at the bar table.

The time spent in Aslan had become the new milk bar chinwag. When the handbrake was pulled, Caden and I would just sit, we’d talk, share stories, and Caden would always gently ask questions. And I won’t forget the question he asked on this night in the mouth of the driveway: “So, what are you thinking about doing after Grade 12? Any plans?” And I won’t forget how surprised I was at my response: 

To give you context, Caden was asking 15-year-old me, who, only a couple of months prior, had received his Year 10 career profiling test results that presented an even high score recommendation to pursue physiotherapy or acting/clowning.

Caden’s question was hitting the heart of my life struggles at the time. Woven within my high-school journey was the intruding voice of “what am I doing after school?” I feared not making the right choice over where I’d be in the future. However, on this night with Caden and Aslan, my response slipped out of my mouth so confidently, it was as if I had known my whole life: “I am going to be a chaplain.”

Here’s the thing, I had no idea why I said “chaplain” that night. And frankly, I had no real idea of what a chaplain did. I never revisited the thought past that night. I was too busy trying to figure out how my career as a juggling, physical therapy practitioner could financially support my future family.

My name is Reilly Brown, and I am a College Chaplain. God’s plan to re-route me back to the school I graduated from has been an adventure greater than I could have ever imagined.

Brene Brown remarked: To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.

I love calling my Grandma to share with her the wins of my week, my lows, and my learnings. She has taught me how to celebrate people joyously and love sacrificially. I could have done nothing for the whole day, and Grandma would still finish our phone calls with, “I am so proud of you”. Young people need someone who is for them. And young people need someone who will spur them on.

My journey in youth work began at 17 as a camp worker. My staff uniform often looked like a full body harness, complimented by a hairnet and helmet. The 10-metre flying fox platform on-site was always the peak experience of a camper’s week. It was a journey of stepping outside of your comfort zone. I recently had a wonderfully wise woman in my life challenge me to shift my prayers for clarity amid discomfort and challenge, to asking God for his boldness to persevere and overcome. Young people, and all people, need someone who can spur them on to take a leap of faith. Stepping out in courage, knowing they are seen, loved, and heard.

I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my life. I have every reason to pour into others, because of how others have poured into me. Just as it was modelled to me by Caden, I sit with students, I share stories, I always gently ask questions. I now always have strawberry flavoured milk in my office. Young people have taught me that faith isn’t knowing the end of the story, it’s trusting in the One who does. I would encourage you, give yourself the gift of listening to a young person’s story. Wait and see what your Heavenly Father will reveal to you both.

About the Author

Reilly Brown

Reilly is College Chaplain at Grace Lutheran College, Qld

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