The Back Story: This piece for me was not only about vulnerability but was vulnerable in itself. I grew up in Colorado Spring and for those of you who don’t know anything about it, its the mega church capital of Colorado. Being religious was kind of a part of your identity. If someone didn’t have some sort of faith you were weird. Anyways, I never liked it. In fact I hated it. There was a lot of encouragement to be perfect. If you messed up, well you may as well forget about being accepted. My brother who I loved very much was gay and when they preached hate towards him it made me want to punch them in the face. Needless to say there was a bad taste in my mouth for religious people and I wanted nothing more to do with it.
Going into college, all I wanted was to drink, hookup with boys and maybe pass some classes. Funny thing is I got roped into this thing called Young Life College, a student ministry, by a very cute junior boy, so as a freshman girl I was all in. After a few events people started asking me “whats my story?”. They wanted to know the details of my life so I told them where I am from, what my major is and what I did in high school. “No no no”, they would say “whats your real story? What are the moments in your life that you felt like nothing could be worse or nothing could be better?”. Well thats hard enough telling one person. Letting that person know all the times you messed up, all the times you were vulnerable and let someone in and got hurt, thats not easy. Little did I know in a years time I would be a Young Life College leader and be asked to share my story in front of 200 people. How do you tell a whole room of people that you walk in shame every day? How could I be vulnerable with 20o people?
The Moment: I was pacing in the hallway. I was thinking, “Im not good enough to tell 200 people my story, I have so much shame that each and every one of those people will look at me in complete disgust. I am dirty, i’m nothing, i’m not good enough.” I really treat myself well don’t I? I was introduced to hundreds of people and then I heard my name and I was taking the stage. “Ugh hi, i’m Laurel, im from….” so on and so forth until i noticed people looking bored. Technically, in my speech I was supposed to keep it a bit PG-13 but I figured screw it i’m tired of being shameful. Its time to be wholehearted and just like Brene Brown said, those who live whole heartedly live courageously. At that moment I look at the large crowd and say “f*** it”. That got their attention. With a deep breath, I told them about all the times I had felt shame, all the times that I had royally screwed up and had messed up other people’s lives. I could tell all of you all the horrible things I have done and have been done to me but there just wouldn’t be enough space. I finished my talk with the notion that I was scared to come out there and that initially I was going to fabricate my life so that I looked like a good little Christian, but thats B.S. We are asked to live vulnerably because we as humans desire a connection so deep that only those who live in complete vulnerability know what living whole heartedly is.
The After Effect: After that night, I got copious amounts of calls and texts from people saying they were really struggling with something too. That they thought they were alone in that or that it was not okay to talk about something openly. I had coffee with people who just wanted to talk about things that were not even related to my story but because I was vulnerable, because I had the courage to stand up there and admit how broken I was, that they too could be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to have compassion on yourself and others. Vulnerability is one of the hardest things because the big bad world out there says that we have to have it all together. Don’t show emotion, or fear, or shame. That is weak, it is undesirable. Thats what society says. Here is the thing though, NO ONE LIVES LIKE THAT. No one has it all together and if they act like they do or they tell you they do they are lying. We are all walking a path no matter what we believe. We are living in this world so why not be vulnerable and walk in life together.
These are the people who encouraged me to be vulnerable and they are also some of the greatest people on earth.