Writing honestly about our lives has made me vulnerable to anyone with access to the web. Yet, vulnerability is absolutely essential for whole-hearted living. Anything less is inauthentic.

For me, the starting point in living authentically was when I stopped desiring to be someone else and accepted who I was. Hand-in-hand with this self-acceptance was the realisation that others are individuals too, and I could give them space to follow their own dreams, make their own mistakes and follow different paths to me.

I desire to be authentic — not just for myself — but so that my children won’t wake up one day and say, “Would the real Lauren please stand up?” I want our girls to know who I am today so that there are no surprises tomorrow. I also want to accept our children today — as they are — so that they’ll feel confident that I’ll accept them in the future — no matter who they become. This is a lesson I learned from desiring and pursuing a relationship with my father, and I don’t want to go back to being a judgemental bitch.

In a real sense, this translates into love, forgiveness, acceptance and grace… and vulnerability. People are emotional, irrational, unkind and unforgiving. I’m likely to display some or all of these traits in the future, as I’ve certainly displayed them in the past. However, in modelling love and grace to our children as they find their own ways, I will instil them with the basis for being loving and gracious to others who are weaker. But this only works if I am not hypocritical and come from a place of truth.

Authenticity can be ugly and really messy. But when we display our vulnerabilities, we’re not displaying weaknesses, but courage. For it permits others to find a commonality that may be missing, and through that they can start to engage on a real level. It can be as a simple as an “I’m not perfect” that permits another person to make the same admission.

I’ve discovered that sharing my own vulnerabilities often results in the two most encouraging, empathetic words in the English language: “me too”. And one of the greatest rewards of being vulnerable is that it is reciprocated. It just takes courage to be the first one to display a soft belly. So let me be the change I want to see in the world.

Lauren's soft, white belly, September 2012
"We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly." ― Sam Keen

My soft belly is part of me. Many people have their own soft bellies. Or they love someone with a soft belly. Once we realise that we all have a connection to a beautiful, soft belly, we can love and accept our own — and others’. It’s the same with vulnerabilities — let’s do it!