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The 700 Club

Alone in Plain Sight with Ben Higgins

Feeling Alone

Ben’s parents never planned for him to be an only child. They spent four long years working with infertility specialists to have him. When his mother was only five months pregnant with Ben, she developed a severe placenta previa hemorrhage and had to be put in the hospital to prevent her from bleeding out. At the same time, Ben's dad who had been diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma was also admitted to the hospital. After they both survived, their outlook on life changed. They approached each day as a gift from God and raised Ben to do the same. Even with all their love and acceptance, when Ben was around others, he never felt like he fit in. 

One day in elementary school, his teacher wanted each student to pair up and read together. Ben was the only kid in class not picked to be a reading partner. Ben shares, "Being rejected by every kid in my class on the same day in second grade, only confirmed what I already believed to be true of myself. From that day on, I began living inside a self-fulfilling prophecy. I created a narrative in my head that told me I was not seen, not heard, not valued. I was alone in plain sight."

He turned to sports to try and find a connection with others. He was the starting quarterback in high school and a top-ten nationally ranked basketball player. During his junior year of high school, when recruiting officers were coming to games, Ben injured his knee. Two surgeries later, his chances of being recruited were dashed. To make matters worse, his friends and roommates were basketball players for Indiana University. "Almost every time, we went somewhere in the state of Indiana, some IU basketball fans came straight up to our table bubbling over with 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe it's you. Can I take a selfie with you guys?'" But when the fans got to Ben, they asked him, "So, who are you?" He always answered, "Nobody."

Missions Trip 

When Ben went on a mission trip to Honduras with his mom and dad, his perspective was changed forever. He was shocked to see the poverty and suffering of others in the world and it shook him to his core. This caused him to dig deeper theologically and ethically. It wasn't enough for him to go there for a few weeks and then go home to live comfortably, he knew he needed to do something about it. That led to his co-founding Generous International, a coffee company that contributes profits to social issues around the world.

The Role That Changed Everything And Nothing

Ben went on to work for a software company but when his co-worker heard of applications being accepted for ABC’s 11th season of the Bachelorette, she was convinced that Ben should be a contestant. Ben applied and was accepted. 

When man after man was sent home, Ben was one of the last four standing. One day a producer pulled Ben aside and said, "Ben, I don't like you." Ben was blown away. The producer asked, "Do you want to know why I don't like you?" He continued, "Because I don't know you. You need to open up to America." When Ben took his advice and told the bachelorette why it was hard to break down his walls, it was his first public confession of his feelings of inadequacy.

When Ben was asked to be the Bachelor for season 20, he accepted but his feelings of being unlovable only heightened during this process. Again, when he had narrowed down the last two women he thought he could propose to, he told them the truth about his feelings and America responded with a resounding “Me too!” Ben knew he was on to something. Even after choosing Lauren and proposing to her, his deeper issues still lingered. After a few years together, they both knew they weren't meant for each other. When the finality of their breakup hit, Ben spiraled into a dark place. 

Connecting Through Pain    

Ben’s mom and dad’s health challenges taught him about the importance of life and appreciating every day and going on missions trips opened his eyes even more. Seeing children without food, clean drinking water, and clothing, caused Ben to question why God allows suffering and question the meaning of life. After he grew closer in His relationship to the Lord, Ben realized that life is all about connection—connecting to God and connecting with others. Which led him to form meaningful friendships with people who were facing difficult challenges.

Annie had Cystic Fibrosis. Ben became friends with her when someone introduced them. He formed a friendship with her which remained until her passing. 

Brandon, a 6’1 college basketball player, lost the use of his legs in a skiing accident. 

Avery was born with a rare condition called Russell-Silver Syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), poor growth after birth, a relatively large head size, a triangular facial appearance, a prominent forehead (looking from the side of the face), body asymmetry and significant feeding difficulties. Ben and Avery became friends when he was visiting the hospital and they remain friends to this day.

"God doesn't take away all of our suffering when we connect with Him. Instead, He finds us in our pain and brokenness. When we are at our lowest, He is there whispering that He knows how we feel,” Ben shares. 

Engaged 

Ben met Jessica Clarke on social media and after dating for a year and a half they got engaged. Even though Ben admits to not being a virgin, he knew that he and Jess had something special and they wanted to honor God with their relationship and wait until marriage to be intimate. He explains, “Jess and I decided to remain abstinent because we believed it was the best thing for our relationship together. We know the power of sex and knew early on in our relationship that we had something special between us, so we wanted to do everything we could to keep our relationship as healthy as possible. It was a decision based on what we believed was best for us as a couple because of our shared faith in Jesus.”

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