My girl Brené Brown (vulnerability Guru) said this:

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love, belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

           I have shared my testimony plenty of times whether it had been at camp, bible studies or among other Christian friends. The concept of “sharing your testimony” is a common activity among the Christian culture. First week of summer camp? Share testimony. Meet with a group from church? Share testimony. Go on a mission trip? Share testimony. Attend Christian conference? Share testimony. “Testimony time” and “Sharing your story” has always been very common jargon within my Christian bubble. 

            BUT to tell you the complete and whole honest truth, “telling your testimony” has always been a strange concept to me. Why does this group of people need to know where I have been or what I have been through? God knows every part of my story. He knows me better than I know myself. Shouldn’t that be enough? The Fellows were already becoming some of my closest friends without us ever having gone there. Why is it necessary for me to bear my heart and soul to them? They know me just a fine amount. 

            But what I slowly began to realize in the first month or so of the program was that I was petrified that if they came any closer, they might see all my shame. I was convinced that if people saw me the way I saw myself, that would be it. My whole image I had worked tirelessly to protect would all go up in smoke. 

Working against my stubbornness and pride I knew that if I wanted to get as much out of the program as I could, I had to lay it all out there. I had to share every part of me, shame and all; uncertain of what was to follow. So I did. And I’m not going to lie. It was difficult. 

But what followed was one of the most beautiful and heavenly reflected moments of my entire life. There was an out-pour of whole-hearted love, acceptance and freedom. The fellows looked at me with adoration and felt honored to know me fully. I could feel that not a single person in the room was viewing me the way I thought they would. This freedom I felt was a direct result of complete vulnerability. 

            Vulnerability. This word, idea, concept and way of living life that once had me quite literally shaking in my boots, is now what I am beginning to believe is the key to connectedness, authenticity and most importantly a life free of shame. 

            What made me vulnerable was exactly what was making me beautiful. The shame I had been hiding behind had no hold on me with this group of people anymore. I let myself be seen by them, which opened my heart to be fully loved by them. “Testimony Time” became less about them knowing me and more about me telling them. I am learning little by little that vulnerability takes courage and can be practiced in almost every part of my life. Vulnerability has allowed me to be seen by people and has opened doors to conversations that I was humbled and honored to be apart of. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. Vulnerability opens doors. Vulnerability begins opportunities for healing. Vulnerability tells others that they are not alone and that there are people who desire to walk through all the hardest parts of life with you. 

            Our very wise leader, Theresa Wilson has said to us a couple times that “we are going to grow the most through our brokenness and not our togetherness”. Vulnerability with each other has been the first step towards getting to that point of growth that I so desperately desire. Yay for growth, healing and just being straight up real with each other!!