I See God in You: Shelby Fry

Earlier this semester, Shelby's professor presented the following scenario:

"Picture this: it is your funeral. Your parents are there. You have family and friends there...What do you want those people to say about you?"

Shelby thought to herself, "Hmm...I most certainly don't want people to say, 'Well she had a great Instagram. Curated to. a. T.

I want people to say, 'She loved people. She loved the Lord. And yes, she was a hot mess, but we knew that homegirl was trying.'"

Shelby Fry is a soul that radiates with sincerity.

Through her, I am reminded that God shines through our stories. She reminds me that the power of Christ's love can break through our most wretched feelings.

Last fall, I found myself fighting feelings of depression. I'd wake up feeling hopeless and immediately get frustrated with myself. I'd been in this pit before when my mom was going through cancer treatment, and I was frustrated at what I felt was emotional weakness. I grew to believe I shouldn't burden anyone with my hurt, but after a few weeks I realized this misguided belief was only isolating me.

I desperately needed to talk about it, so I pulled Shelby aside at a Phi Lamb retreat and said, "Hey, I know you understand this."

She had talked about her depression at a Phi Lamb meeting, and she had opened up about it on her Instagram. And maybe we'd never had a deep heart-to-heart conversation before then, but knowing her story made it so easy for me to go up to her...for me to feel less alone.

I saw God in her compassion and understanding of my deep hurt. Seeing her, knowing she had been through deep lows, showed me Christ's power at work, lifting her up every single time. So, for this series of "I See God in You," she was one of the first names to pop into my mind.

I was deeply encouraged through my Q&A with Shelby, and I hope you find it refreshing too. Here's a little peak into our conversation:

How would you define vulnerability?

Vulnerability is giving people the opportunity to be there for you and for you to be there for them too because I think that we find healing in each other's stories.

Why is vulnerability important to you?

Whenever I think of vulnerability, I think of Jesus and how He laid His life out for everyone to see. He was an open book and didn't deem anyone not important enough to share His story with. I think of Zacchaeus and the way He was a tax collector and everyone hated Him, and Jesus was like, "Zacchaeus, I see you and I'm gonna share myself with you."

Is it easy for you (being vulnerable)?

It depends...vulnerability in the sense of "this is my story, and I've conquered this," that's really easy to share. What's not easy to share is when it's still happening...when you're still struggling.

But whenever you do say those things out loud, it's like saying, "Satan, get behind me."

So, vulnerability is not easy, but it gets easier with practice- when you start making it a habit.

I love your ability to sit with me and share how you're really doing, one on one, but I think it's also so powerful to see you share that with the world via social media. Why put your struggles on Instagram?

Well, I have to check what my motivation is for it.

Is my motivation for people to say, "Wow, you're so strong," or, "You're so great and so brave!" Or is my motivation that I want for one person to see this and say, 'This is me. I can relate to that."

I do this so people know that they're less alone.

I want people to know that struggling is okay, you can still have joy through that. Without suffering, you don't understand joy.

I also write Instagram captions, or share things that I want someone to tell me- what I wish someone would tell me. I can go back on the hard days and read those things.

I think, "What would I want someone to tell 17-year-old Shelby who was hurting and wanted to take her own life?"

"What would I want someone to tell 21-year-old Shelby, who lets a boy that thinks she's not worth it, let her feel out of control?"

What would you say to someone who is feeling hopeless or depressed?

I don't think that there are proper words. I think, rather, that it's actions and just sitting there with someone.

Whenever I think of a proper response, I think about Hannah.

I cried for like an hour and a half one time. Just bawling on her bed, unable to talk. And she just sat there and didn't do anything. She just stared at me.

And I think that just sitting with someone in their hurt says more than what words could ever say.

It's okay to hurt. You're not defective because you're hurting.

You're human because you're hurting.

Broken people don't need fixing from humans- we need fixing from God.

But it's okay to feel a deep sorrow, because even Jesus felt deep sorrow.

Speaking to Shelby was a breath of fresh air. (What a radiant human, right?!) The words she shared proved incredibly reassuring to me. For a while we just sat and talked about the messiness of feeling depressed, feeling ashamed for feeling "too much." But through that we got to marvel at the ways God pursues and fights for us, and we marveled at the other radiant humans He's placed in our lives to sit with us through our hurt.

Friends, I hope you have the courage to share yourself with someone.

Whether that's opening up with a close friend or visiting a counselor.

I promise, you will find that you are not alone.

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

-2 Corinthians 12:9

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© SELENA SCHORKEN 2020