The high school students and some parents of PAREF Southcrest School, Inc. attended a Conference on True Love and Chastity last August 30 at the Grand Ballroom of Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, featuring well- known chastity speakers, Leah Darrow and Chris Stephanick. Leah Darrow, a professional model who became entrenched in the emptiness and superficial concerns of life in the fashion world bore witness to the possibility of redemption and finding wholeness after committing serious mistakes.
“Never let anyone tell you that you can’t change, that you have to stay with the imitation love, that you can’t be better than you are now,” said Leah Darrow.
“Pope Benedict said that the world can offer you comfort but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Darrow, best known for being a finalist in the reality TV show America’s Top Model , drove home the point that forgiveness and change are always possible when one is set on these. She told her story of making a poor choice as a 15-year-old, then thinking “I’m not worth anything good, not worth forgiveness and mercy. I’m wasted talent. It’s over, it’s done. There’s no going back. And I believed that nonsense. It’s not true but I believed it, and… I made poor choices in my life because of that poor mentality,” she said.
“There’s nothing real about reality TV. Tell me you know that,” she remarked with a smile, then described the superficial world she lived in as part of the show. After her elimination from the show came more experiences in modeling, leading to an increasingly downward spiral into the world practically devoid of respect for the dignity of the persons one deals with in that world.
She was immersed completely in the culture, which allowed her to make other poor decisions – until an amazing moment she experienced at a photo shoot which showed her just how off-track she was in terms of living a life according to who she was – a child of God. When she realized that if taken Home that moment of the fashion shoot and made to stand before the Maker, she would not be proud of the way she had been living.
The start of a new path
Darrow promptly walked out of the pictorial, phoned her father for help (“he drove several thousand miles to pick me up in my apartment in New York City”), and turned to the sacraments, upon the prodding of her dad. Her detailed account of her going back to the sacrament of reconciliation before leaving New York was peppered with humor, but it was apparent that it took much courage and humility to finally emerge from the confessional in peace and confidence.
Since then, she has been devoting herself to appearing on secular and non-secular television and radio programs to talk of her experiences, to her work as full-time apologist for Catholic Answers, and to speaking internationally to people of all ages on topics of chastity, modesty, conversion and forgiveness, and human dignity.
Through her talks she hopes to help young women realize their worth and their being made for something greater, by relating her own experiences including her mistakes.
“I chose the imitation of love. I didn’t know how great I was. You have a choice to make the right choice, but you’re never free from the consequences of your choice,” she said.
“Real love is sacrifice and if someone’s not gonna sacrifice for you, they don’t love you, baby!” she quipped. “We must look to Christ on the cross… and know that we are worth it. That is who we are, that is our identity — that we are children of God.”
The event was organized by the Archdiocese of Cebu in preparation for the Canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod. Archbishop Palma was present in all three sessions for high school students, college students, parents and educators and gave words of encouragement for everyone to promote pro-life and pro-family activities.
Excerpts taken from CBCP for Life US speaker boosts hope for change, forgiveness in young women.