On Sunday the weather was beautiful and I was energized. I felt good and thought a pep talk would be just the thing that would set me up for a productive day.

I went to a local church that is known for being real and for talking honestly about things that are taboo—the things we fear. Things we’re ashamed of. That day, the staff had arranged a bold experiment.

On each of the 5000 or so chairs in the room was a little card and golf pencil. The card had spaces numbered from 1-14. Each number had two checkboxes: Yes or No.

The place was packed.

Scott was speaking to us that day, and he had a challenge: Answer honestly, Yes or No, to each of the questions about to be projected on the big screen. The questions were invasive, and even though the “test” was anonymous, it required that we try not to lie to ourselves (as we often do).

Have you ever struggled with depression? Have you been abused or abused someone else? Have you ever lied to avoid getting caught? Do you have any regrets? Have you had sex with a person you weren’t married to? Have you ever abused drugs or alcohol? Do you have secrets that you haven’t told to anyone? These were “in your face” questions.

While the band played Take Me To Church by Hozier, we dutifully filled out our cards. We folded them and people collected them in buckets.

Scott continued, and when he was finished, those people came back with their buckets and we each pulled out a card.  Now we were asked to represent the person who filled out the card we held in our hands, as Scott read the questions one by one.

“Have you ever struggled with depression? If your card says yes, stand up.”

Nearly 5000 people stood up.

Have you been abused? Lied? Hidden? Hurt someone? One by one he read the questions, and for nearly every one of them the vast majority of the room stood.

I was astonished. We were all hurt. And in one way or another, we were also all Hurters. Liars. Hiders. We all had broken hearts.

Rather than criticizing, what if we helped each other up? What if we had compassion? Kindness? What if we had the courage to face our own frailties and we inspired each other to be better?

What if we had each others’ backs?

(I originally posted this on the Your Turn Challenge Blog.)