“You were naked up there, girl!”
The man standing behind me and my family in line, as we waited to be seated for dinner, took me off guard. But I knew exactly what he was referring to. It was just an hour ago. Up there, in front of a couple thousand people, delivering the student baccalaureate address, I felt naked. Vulnerable. The age-old trick in public speaking is to picture your audience naked, but I had done the opposite. I reached in, pulled out my pounding heart and held it out to all of the people that I had spent years carefully protecting it from, because I believed God was asking me to allow His power to be glorified through real-time vulnerability. (You can watch it here.)
When I came to Biola, I wanted to find my place and know that I mattered there. But out of fear of discovering that I wasn’t enough and might be rejected, I kept myself at arm’s length from people. Acting untouchable, strong, and unreadable to the people around me allowed me to control who entered into my life, who could really know me and what they would think of me.
Self-protection may have been my plan, but as it turns out, it wasn’t God’s. Instead, over the course of my time at Biola, God gave me friends who pursued my deep heart and pushed past all my defenses to know me fully — even the places that I wasn’t proud of — and love me there.
This exchange of vulnerability unveiled to me the unabashed beauty and glory of my Father. I am not the same person today that I was when I first moved to L.A. Those years weren’t shiny and perfect; they were dented - rich, deep, full. College gave me the space to realize that it’s better to be “dentable” than to have it all together, controlled, and safe. My relationships made me more fully human, fully alive and pressed me to more fully trust my Heavenly Father, because they gave me glimpses of His glory — and they continue to.
After this eye-opening 7 minutes of standing “naked” in front of the whole graduating class and their families, I started thinking, praying and talking to people about the concept of a “dented life”. I’ve realized that the life I want to live, and the one I want to encourage others to step into, is one that is dented, raw, vulnerable and real. Those who live a dented life live unmasked and unveiled, with the beauty of Christ gracing their faces. It is, in essence, the Christian life — one that risks significantly in relationships, loves with abandon, and abides deeply in Christ.
I believe that what makes me beautiful, what makes me enough, is the truth that I am an earthen vessel, made in the image of God, with a unique set of stories, gifts and strengths for God to use. More importantly, at my weakest, I have the opportunity to make famous the treasure I carry — the power of the Gospel of Christ. I live the dented life when I recognize my humanity and choose to live vulnerably with others and with God. When I live vulnerably, I am showing up and letting myself be seen for who I am. I am making my heart readable to others in both its beauty and ugliness. Only from this place will I reflect the glory, power and character of God in the way I was uniquely designed to.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - II Corinthians 12:9-10
When we, as image bearers, live dented individually, others behold God and His power more clearly through the unique lens of our lives. When we live dented collectively, those unique lenses come together and allow others to experience a fuller picture of the character of God.
I want to live that kind of life. Don’t you?
This past year has involved a lot of wrestling with, and waiting on, God. But this year has also been an incredible gift. I never thought I would end up working for a startup marketing agency specializing in marketing luxury resorts and developments. I never thought I would make a home in California following graduation. And yet I spent a year digging in, trying on a lot of different hats within that company, and learning a lot about myself and what I am actually built for.
I also spent this year planted at Mariners Church in Irvine. That community truly is what made California home. The pastors, leaders, and people I had the opportunity to serve with made this year rich. God used them to affirm and encourage me in my gifts and strengths and to challenge me to continue stepping out of my comfort zone to use them more fully. It hasn’t been an easy year, but God has been so good to me in the midst of it.
I believe God calls all of us to love Him, love others, and make disciples. However, the “how” of our calling is unique to each of us and it is informed by the specific set of stories, experiences, gifts and passions God has created us with.
Over this past year, I’ve asked God what my “how” is. He is helping me explore and identify my unique stories, experiences, gifts and passions, I believe He has given me a vision for infusing marketing, storytelling, leadership and developing people as my “how”. I am still growing in my understanding of what that looks like and honestly, I think my “how” will continue to take shape and develop over the course of my life as I collect more experiences, live more stories, and build upon my skills.
This past year, I also started thinking about creative ways I could become better equipped to pursue my passions and enrich my gifting, while following the Lord unwaveringly. I am excited to announce I’ve been invited to join the fourth cohort of Experience Institute (www.expinstitute.com), a year-long, graduate-level program that creates a space within higher education for individuals to build creative confidence, network, and build a compelling portfolio through meetups, apprenticeships around the globe, coaching and personal projects.
I’m excited to spend this next year stewarding my “how", pressing into vulnerability and taking obedient risks in order to make the most of, and build upon, the set of stories, experiences, gifts and passions God has already given me. My cohort’s first Experience Institute Meetup starts on August 23rd in Chicago. So, I will be taking off just a few days before then to get settled.
I've also got some exciting ideas I’ve been brewing! So, be on the lookout for an email on how you can join me and a community of others choosing to live the Dented Life.
Until then, please subscribe below if you'd like to follow my Dented Life this year. I would love to have you join me!
P.S. - Just out of curiosity: What would it look like for YOU to live the Dented Life this year? What steps could you take in your work, school, and relationships to live more vulnerably and allow others to see God through the unique lens of your life? I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment or shoot me an email in the "Contact" page. Seriously.:)