Life is interesting. It is predictable, and yet unexpected. Sometimes change is subtle, and when you were heading north, the road veered west. Sometimes change is blunt and cold like the feeling of walking outdoors to discover you need a jacket after days of t-shirts and shorts. Sometimes change is more welcoming than that. It feels gentle. It’s the shift in sea level to bare your grounding after tirelessly combating the ocean waves. Life is a series and not a standstill. The reality about change is that it is ever present. Change in us especially. Really it seems the only constant is God. However, who God is to me changes. He (and no, I don’t believe God has a gender but I’m just pulling from my Western Christianity suffixes) is the sun, and my life is the world in orbit around him, spinning on an axis. Days. Nights. Seasons. Continents. Countries. Cultures. He’s the same yet these are all currents that ebb and flow around him.
The platform of this writing piece is in acknowledgement to this question that a particular subset of people I know are asking or have asked about me:
“How is Lauren Lett doing?”
Recently I had an old friend confirm my suspicions. “I think you’ve been deeply misunderstood.”
I am disappointed that who I am has been questioned or worried over because the context of Lauren Lett is different. And not at all what people expected of me it seems.
Put Lauren in a ministry setting and cue the Christian jargon — Solid. Love’s Jesus. A servant. Fears the Lord. A woman of God. You get the point.
I know that in my Christian community, I was placed on a pedestal. I was some sort of hero. MVP. VIP. All Star. You know what? I projected everyone’s image of me. It was my comfortable and warm image of myself, too. In my early years of college and leading Young Life, my head was swollen with arrogance and pride. Though despite my enlarged cranium, I was rather close-minded. I really thought of myself as a superior Christian. I didn’t have the same struggles as other Christians seemed too, and I believed I was incapable of committing particular sins if you will. Of course, I was not totally conscious of these thoughts. This dark side of me masqueraded as light to those I mentored, my friends, my family. I sported my super-hero Christian identity cloak rather well. Ugh. Just thinking about me then makes me shudder. I apologize to those who felt judged or looked down on by me because it’s true, and not in your head. I was judging you. For sure. And I’m sorry.
Somewhere through those years though I sobered up. I had been drunk off of evangelical Christianity with a shot of fundamentalism for a long, long time. The spiritual hangovers I experienced were terrible. I’d often feel alone, afraid, depressed, and ashamed. So, I’d drink again.
Do more. Build more relationships. Skip studying and go get coffee with that high school kid or younger leader. Make sure I mention “God” in a conversation. Bonus points for saying “Jesus”. Go to church and have a spiritual reawakening every Sunday. Cry during worship. Okay, If I can’t cry I’ll put my hands in the air. No, that’s uncomfortable — okay, I’ll just turn my palms out and cup my hands. Sway a little. Rewrite spiritual quotes and bible verses in my journal over and over again. Use words like “glory” and “kingdom” and “redemption” daily. Oh, and shame myself repeatedly for not being thankful, faithful, and holy-full enough. Ask definitive questions that have immeasurable answers like “Does that person love Jesus?” “Are they saved?” “How are you doing with God?” “Am I being a light?”
Through my deepest prayers, through those times of sobriety, and experiencing life outside of the security of a Christian bubble where everyone thinks and acts like you do, I felt my spirit stirring.
In my faith/spirituality growing up, I forced myself to do a lot of things I never really wanted to do. I felt shame over things when I had hoped for the freedom Christianity advertised. I could not make sense of it. My world. Who I was. Who other people were. Their lives and worlds. I’d meet someone who had ten-fold the compassion I could ever expound, and a freedom I was so thirsty for. By contrast, I was the one who seemed lost. In truth, I was also felt abandoned. This was particularly true post college and post Young Life leader. My peers and I were all in the real world now, trying to survive and understand ourselves in light of our new circumstances -jobs, marriage, and so on. I hadn’t truly lost myself, but I had lost my community. My support. And I didn’t realize it then, but I was losing my Christian identity too.
I would say that until recently, I was hurt by my Christian community. And um, yeah who hasn’t been? I mean we are dealing with humans. I have chosen to let go of my anger by changing my expectations of my relationships from those years. This is sad to me, but I have mourned the loss and do not dwell there. When I realized it was true -that people were lamenting over their fallen hero, I wrote out a response in my journal, unsure of if I would share. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or sound sorry for myself, or sound like I am blaming anyone in particular. I’m not. When John asked me to write for The Deconstructionists, I knew that my voice was just waiting for the right moment. I’m passed caring what other’s think of me, or trying to be at least. It is ALWAYS more important that other people feel less alone and less misunderstood. So here we go. This a raw excerpt from my personal journal -that I wrote out rather furiously might I add.
“I have been asked, ‘I am worried about you. Are you doing okay?’
THEN WHERE ARE YOU? What about me or my life is so concerning to you, and yet if it required you to step into it, you back away? If you cared, truly cared about the state of my heart, you would be here. Is it my emotional and mental health you care about? Or is it if I am destined for hell or not? What did you expect from me that I let you down instead? Do I no longer love people like I once did? Do I not have compassion? Wisdom? Do I not serve others? Let go of myself to put people before me? Am I no longer an advocate for truth and justice? Defending the weak? Motivating others to help themselves? I argue I am still those things and more. But you do not know if I claim ‘Christian’ or not and that scares you. Worries you. And I refuse to give you that security because it sounds like you need it for your own. I will answer one of your questions though. Yes, Lauren is doing okay. In fact, she is more than okay. I have never been more proud of who I am today than any other time in my life. I never thought I’d actually be able to say that about myself. Can you say that about you? Don’t you dare for a second look at me and judge my life based off of your expectations for it. In doing so you have forgotten who I am, which is still true to who I was those years ago. It sucks that because I don’t mention God or quote a bible verse on my Facebook feed, and I instead share posts of my job, or hey, me in a sports bra -you presume my soul to be lost, the goodness zapped out of me. I have succumbed to ‘worldly’ desires, vain images and idols, and am yoked to unbelievers.”
— I’ll stop here. The F-bomb came next, but I can just imagine my tender mother gasping and immediately sending me a disapproving text.
The truth is that I’ve always been hiding under that cloak. Being invisible made me feel invincible. Through the years my cloak was getting snagged on things. It was getting harder to ignore those loose threads and patch up the worn fabric. My fingers would linger on a lose thread. What would it mean for me to finally tug on one. What if my hiding place unraveled? Would my whole world come undone? Would I?
The answer is no. I’m not sitting idly by either. I’m not distracting myself from hard questions or unsettling possibilities. I don’t want to be content. I don’t want to be comfortable. Maybe the answers or resources I have right now just aren’t good enough. I want more. I don’t want a lazy spirituality. So, I am up. I am wandering through this world created by this wild, untamed, and intimately-loving God that I believe exists, and I’m doing it without my cloak to cover me.
Lauren Lett, RDN, LD, CF-L1 Trainer
Personal Nutrition and Fitness Coach
The Body Biz
Crossfit Grandview, 880 Kinnear Rd. Columbus, OH 43212