photoSharing your story is opening yourself up to a bevy of hurt, unwanted input, and strange criticism, but it’s more than all the negative. When you share your story, share your life with someone, be they on the internet or in-person, you are opening yourself up to something beautiful. How do I know this? Let me tell you.

There he was—the good-lookin’ nerd…

I’ve never admitted this before, but I actually noticed Adam (not his real name, sorry) right when he walked in the room. “Please let him sit at my table!” I pleaded with God. Thankfully, God had my back and Adam found the last open chair at my table full of silent females staring blankly at anything but each other. I said HI as obnoxiously as I possibly could. Let’s just say, I’m the smoothest chick on planet earth. SMOOTHEST! Thankfully he flashed a smile and soothed the rapid beating of my heart. Now years later, he still has that calming effect on me. We exchanged our pleasantries, but more importantly, he laughed at my stupid jokes. I knew right then that he was something.

Meeting him was unexpected, and exactly what I needed.

I’m going to stop here and say that although this is reading like a modern-day, we-met-in-church, Christian love story that ends in a church wedding with baby on the way, it’s not. Part of me would like to say it’s more than that, but I don’t want to offend people who have love stories like that. To me though, it’s so much more.

You see, I was lost, drowning, floundering, fading.

What I now refer to as the 2 years of darkness was in full swing on that October evening. From quitting a relationship to walking away from my “dream job”, I had found myself 4 years out of college now back in my parent’s house and working at a Starbucks and a Caribou Coffee (sorry corporate coffee moguls.) I was at the bottom of my self-loathing pit. Every night I would beg God to just send someone to find me and save me—not knowing what that was going to look like. After much prodding from those who still dared to love me, my butt was found sitting on a folding chair in a church fellowship hall to meet people and form a small group.

In hindsight, I wasn’t there to meet “people”, I was there to meet someone who could speak into my darkness and show me how to climb out.

It was several months before Adam and I truly became friends, but each week I knew that if I pulled myself out of the darkness just long enough on Tuesday nights that someone would be there to make me laugh. Side note: The thought occurs to me that Adam may read this one-day. Hey Darlin’. How’s it going? If you read this until the end, you’ll get a fantastic Daily Validation. Promise.

It was through laughter that I allowed someone to see ME.

Adam invited me to a bonfire where he didn’t really know anyone; I went along because it wasn’t like I had any other friends to spend time with. (Gosh the truth hurts.) That evening is forever etched in my mind because I drove home with my face tired from smiling so much; a feeling I hadn’t felt in years.

That night he started to save me.

You see… he didn’t know where I had been or even where I was going. He never asked me about my goals, or what made me tick. He never once asked me about my 5-year plan or past relationships. He asked me about velociraptors.

Sharing your story is more than just sharing plot points. It’s about developing the character you play… the hero you’re becoming.

Perhaps sometimes we get too caught up on where we are going or what we are doing, and less concerned about who we are while we’re getting there. Adam has consistently challenged who I am and accepted the fact that I might not know anything else.

While he was learning about the character I played, I learned about her too.

There has never been a whole, complete person festering at the bottom of a pit of despair. They don’t just hop down there one day for funsies. They get there through pain, loss, grief, stupidity. I was lost, but by someone wanting to get to know me, I found myself. With each inquiry or story shared, small steps were emerging just wide enough to start my assent out of the darkness, toward the people standing along the ridge cheering me on.

When you share your story you’re reminded of who you are.

There’s no easy way to open yourself up to other people, especially if you are like me and have no idea who you are. I wish there was a magic word I could say to make everyone ok with vulnerability, but there isn’t. Here’s what I can say: beauty comes out of the unexpected, out of the things that scare us. Adam scared/scares me. You hear that bro? You scare me. But you scare me because you saved me when I most needed saving… you have no idea you did that… well, now you do… Ten years from now I’ll still remember the nights you made me laugh till I hurt and watched those little stairs emerge from the darkness that finally lead me back to Laura.