“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?
What would it look like for you to live dented in this season of your life?