Made for More
Former model Leah Darrow speaks about faith in college
At eight years old, Leah Darrow already knew that God had something great in store for her. Although she had no idea what that something would be, she vividly recalls the moment when she enthusiastically told her mother that someday she was going to do something “huge.”
In a talk on November 3 sponsored by the Militia of the Immaculata, Identity Project (idND), Students for Child-Oriented Policy, and Right to Life, Darrow, a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model, addressed a large audience of Notre Dame students about how we are “made for more.” Being “made for more,” she testified, is something true for every one of us and something that God communicates to each of His children in a unique and personal way. Darrow shared her personal story of conversion after having fallen away from the faith during college and years of work in the modeling industry.
“How we define our terms navigates our entire life,” Darrow explained. “How you define love will choose for you the people that you date. It will choose your spouse for you; it will choose how you see yourself; it will choose if you bully other people; it will choose if you don’t forgive people, if you harbor judgments and pain … How you define love will also reflect how you see God.” The truest model of love is found in Christ’s passion and death on the cross, said Darrow. We know, she continued, that this kind of love is “authentic love,” but how many of us are measuring our relationships against this kind of love?
Darrow shared that in high school, rather than defining love based on the authentic model, she based her conception of love on modern culture’s version of love—“imitation love.” She copied her friends’ actions in everything from dressing to dating. In what she called her “downhill tumble,” the next ten years of her life were then filled with a suffering caused by her mistakes and the conviction that she was the “worst sinner in the Catholic Church.” Darrow explained how she began to define herself by her sins and feel that she was unworthy of God. For this very reason, she quickly decided to abandon her faith while working in the modeling and reality TV industries of New York City.
After nearly 10 years of living outside the Church and struggling with countless disappointing relationships, Darrow described how “God just showed up during a time of my life when I wasn’t expecting Him to and I didn’t want him to.” During her first photo shoot with a new modeling agency, Darrow mistakenly looked into the flash of the camera. In the disorienting, blinding seconds that followed, she distinctly heard a voice repeat to her: “I made you for more.” In that moment she recognized God’s voice and acknowledged the numbness and brokenness of her own heart. That moment changed Darrow’s entire future; it changed how she defined herself and her relationship with God. By distinguishing herself from her sins, she began actively fighting them and against the lifestyle dictated by “imitation love.”
Darrow testified to the power of confession and the beauty of God’s mercy. “No matter what you’ve done … God’s not done with you,” Darrow insisted. After her experience of God’s words, “I made you for more,” it was Darrow’s father, responding to his daughter’s desperate call to bring her home, who encouraged her to seek the sacrament of Confession. As Darrow explained, he knew that Jesus Himself was home and that if his daughter wanted to come home, she would have to be reconciled to Christ and His Church.
We know, said Darrow, that “the only one who can put together a broken heart is the one who made it.” She then wondered aloud why we hesitate to bring all of those suffering in our lives to Him. Darrow challenged all the students in the audience to extend the invitation to Christ and His mercy to their friends—particularly those struggling with and defining themselves by their sins. Furthermore, she challenged the young men and women to “set your bar high.” When we recognize our dignity as children of God who are “made for more,” we will seek that authentic love with God at the center of every relationship in our lives. “Do not let your past dictate your future,” Darrow encouraged. Only when we embrace God’s mercy and the transformation He brings about, she said, will live with a profound happiness and hope.
Ann Gallagher is a senior studying PLS and Classics. She recently visited the Colorado River and discovered a new crop in the fields of Yuma, AZ. If you have any questions about adventures, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org