A Confession

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.

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These are the people who encouraged me to be vulnerable and they are also some of the greatest people on earth.

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13 thoughts on “A Confession

  1. Hi Lauren,

    It takes a lot of courage to share your story with people especially with people you hardly know, let alone 200 of them. I found your post very relatable. I went to a very conservative Catholic high school to where I didn’t agree with majority of widely held religious, social, and political views and I too started to hold negative thoughts towards religious people. When I was a junior in high school I had to go on a class retreat called Kairos in which every night we were encouraged to go up and speak to our whole class about our story in relation to a specific theme. For the first couple of nights I was extremely hesitant about going on stage and refused. However, each night I found it really encouraging hearing my classmates speak and finally by the last night I shared my own. It’s amazing how taking the courage to share your story with a congregation of people can unite you with others. Just like you, people reached out to me about my story and that vulnerability resulted in compassion and that compassion was returned for other people who exposed their vulnerability.

  2. This is awesome! Letting your guard down especially in front of 200 people you didn’t know is kind of a lot AWESOME! Everyone has had some bumpy part in their life and a lot of people have learned to just swipe it under the rug and tell people all the good things about their life and the things they have done to come off as societies standard, “normal”. When you got the calls and texts from others who were struggling, did you feel like a mentor and you were helping them come to terms with it? or did you feel more like a friend showing them empathy? This is a very powerful story. And having a gay brother and also church be a part of your life, and finding ways to have both in your life is honestly unbelievable. Great story and awesome photo.. pure happiness 🙂

  3. Hey Lauren,

    I find your story very relatable. I went to a very small conservative Catholic high school and did not exactly agree with everything we were taught in our religion classes. It was many times painful for me when I had to sit through our monthly masses and I always felt uncomfortable not standing up to receive communion. My senior year of high school we went on a weekend retreat – the whole weekend was about opening up to others and getting a better understanding of who we were as individuals. For one of the exercises we were asked to open up about a certain topic – I kept trying to find ways to skip out of this but finally I bit the bullet, stood up, and told my story. It was an amazing feeling to open and be vulnerable in front of everyone like that. Thank you for sharing your story!

    – Sara

    1. Wow thats super empowering! I love that you were able to stand up and tell people about yourself and the hard things in life that you have been through. Retreats are the best! Thanks for being brave.

  4. Hey Lauren,

    I don’t know where to start. I am proud of you for telling everyone your story. It takes a lot of courage to overcome your vulnerability. I myself am not a religious person, so it is very hard for me to relate. But as I step into your shoes, I can seem to understand how everything went. I’m sorry that you felt uncomfortable during communion. I know it is hard to explain everyone your story, and how you are feeling. to a group of 200 people. I find it amazing that it was a positive experience for you, and that you continue to do great things, regardless of what everyone else thinks. Thank you for sharing a great story, and enjoy the pursuit of happiness!

    RM

    1. Thank you RM! I think i found that i wasn’t so different from everyone else and that everyone has to go through hard and shameful things in their life!

  5. Hi! So amazing what speaking our truth and releasing the consequences can do. There was a reason you spoke in that event and I’m sure your vulnerability and honesty touched a lot of people.

  6. Lauren,

    I just want to reiterate how awesome this story is. If everyone was willing to be so open we would live in a better world.

  7. Hi Laurel!
    Your story is really inspiring. Sharing what you aren’t proud of is hard enough when it’s to someone you are close with, but sharing with hundreds of strangers is so admirable. Being open about yourself to others is so hard but when people like you are strong enough to do it, it makes the world a much more inclusive and understanding place.

  8. Hi Laurel,
    I couldn’t imagine having to stand up in front of a group of people and spill my deepest darkest secrets, let alone 200 people! I wouldn’t say I am ashamed of the things I’ve done (good and bad), I am just a terrible public speaker. It’s very admirable that you take part and play such a big role in your youth ministry group. I feel comfortable saying that it wouldn’t be for me, but I think it’s amazing that you’ve found a group that seems to love you unconditionally.

  9. Hi Laurel,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I applaud you for sharing your story of vulnerability not only with the people at Young Life, but those of us here in this class too. I agree with you, having the courage to not only tell a difficult story but to tell it in front of so many people is one of the hardest things to do in life. I think that it is great that you actually got into a leadership role with Young Life and have been able to help many other people out because of it. Everyone has their vulnerable moments, and the only thing we can do is help each other out.

    -Curran

  10. Laurel,

    Your ability to open up that vulnerability to others is pretty inspiring. As I read through I thought of myself if I was told to tell my story to a group of 200 people and it made me really think about how secure I am myself. I’m not sure I would be able to do it without trying to alter things. Being able to accept who you were and who you are today shows you have become comfortable in your own skin. Bypassing the fear of judgement it something nearly all of us can work on, and attacking it the manner you have deserves significant respect.

    -Garrett

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