Shari Rigby on Living a 'Beautifully Flawed' Life
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - Known for her work in faith-based movies October Baby and Not Today, Shari Rigby has forged a respectable acting career at an age when many women are getting out of the movie business.
This is shaping up to be a big year for the North Dakota native as Rigby has several projects set to release in coming months including Boonville Redemption, Wildflower, and a television movie called The Summer Sisters.
But life hasn’t always been wonderful for Rigby. Before all this success, she had a drawer full of secrets that often got the best of her. A teen pregnancy, drugs, sex, and a perpetual search for love in the wrong places seemed to control every aspect of her life. By God’s grace, she eventually found a way out. Life didn’t immediately get better for her but now she had something (in this case Someone) to hold onto.
In her just-released memoir, Beautifully Flawed – Finding Radiance in the Imperfections of Your Life, Rigby shares that it is possible to find purpose in life even if your life is a mess and not turning out as planned.
I recently sat down with Rigby to discuss why she chose to be so brutally honest about her past, some tips on finding self-worth in times of torment, and the key to finding personal forgiveness.
Often people write a memoir toward the end of their career yet you find yourself right in the middle of your professional acting journey. Why the decision to write Beautifully Flawed now?
That’s a great question. I think the reason why Beautifully Flawed was penned now was because it really started resonating back before we started doing press on October Baby. It was just really something that had been in my mind for a while to share my story and to share what I had been through. After we completed October Baby, I was on the road for two and a half years speaking and really sharing my testimony all over the United States. I spoke at pregnancy care centers, maternity homes, churches, anywhere and everywhere. It really hit me when I would be speaking to 350 to 1,500 people and I would have people standing in line waiting to share their story with me, and asking to know more about me.
From those experiences, I decided to sit down and start penning my journey. Through my story, hopefully people will see that life is a journey, and that they can start to really appreciate all of their flaws and see themselves as beautiful, and not be held captive by these things that happen in our life. With Beautifully Flawed, I’m actually saying, “This is just the beginning.”
You certainly bared your soul in this book. I was reading through it and found that you’re taking your readers through some very difficult moments of your life. Why did you choose to do this in such an open and honest way?
When you have people standing in front of you, men and women, and ages 12 years old up to 80, and they’re baring their soul to you and you’re wondering why these incredible people are hurting so badly, what I found was that they were just really dying for transparency; they were dying for somebody who really would say, listen, this is how life is. It’s gritty, things happen, but look at also how we’re redeemed. See how God can take every single thing and use it to His glory. That’s what our testimonies are about, and I feel like as I went into this book and really started writing, I thought there were times where I thought this might be a little too harsh. But then I realized that I’ve had people standing in front of me baring their souls, just wanting to have somebody to tell the truth to; I’m going to unabashedly tell the truth in this book and allow them to see my life’s journey, see how God has transformed my life, and show how He has used everything to His glory.
A central theme of your book is teaching people how to embrace their past. You obviously have had some first-hand experience with that. What are some ways that people can go about that?
That is something that we all really need to do, especially as we take this journey called “life.” Really embracing our past is what makes us, and if we can just take a step back and look at the choices we’ve made—there are so many people who get caught up in this, woe is me or the victim mentality of, “I’m not good enough or worthy enough.” I want to encourage people to say no, use everything that you can, because everything that’s happened in your past, you can absolutely use it for every stage of your life. You learn from it as you grow in wisdom and discernment. And I would encourage people that if they are going through the same thing and really trying to embrace their past and trying to understand it to stop keeping it in the dark and allow the light to come in and share it, because once that happens who can hold you down? There are no secrets that can be kept anymore. We all need to love on people who are struggling and share the message of our Savior. He didn’t come for the righteous, He came for the sinner and He came for us. People need to know this.
Forgiveness is a highly important topic of Beautifully Flawed. You have written extensively about it. Why is forgiving oneself so important in the healing process?
In forgiving oneself, you really do have to come to grips with laying down what’s happened in your past. If you can’t forgive yourself as the Lord has forgiven you, then you can’t really move forward. I think what happens is that we as human beings continuously keep going and picking up the broken pieces and putting them back on, versus allowing them to be laid down, given up and moving on. I think that’s why we get stuck a lot of times. So it’s really unfortunate because there is such a journey that we can take if we can just embrace that we are flawed and our Savior looks at us as beautiful and can use us.
In your own life, you were a person that kind of got lost in life because you were chasing a lot of different things that weren’t necessarily positive. How were you able to rediscover yourself through all of that and find self-worth after so much time of torment?
I write about dedicating my life to Christ at the age of 13, but not really knowing what that meant. I was in a church service and the pastor preached about “Heaven or Hell.” I didn’t want to go to hell so I of course said, okay, I’m going to accept Jesus. The cool thing was in that moment that even though I didn’t really know who Christ was, I didn’t know what I was really getting into, but He knew me. So often we forget that. As I walked through life with all of those pains and struggles, the beautiful thing is that I kept getting picked up. I would continue choosing things that weren’t good for my life, but ultimately God continuously kept giving me doors to choose from. And so as time went on, I started to find myself more and more and who I was. When I started dating my husband after going through a lot of difficult things over many, many years, he was really the first person who said, “I want you to come to church with me. I want to introduce you to my church.” And he stills looks at me as the purest thing in the world, and I really started to see how identity has nothing to do with love or people, or seeing myself in a movie or a song. As I continued seeing this godly man, I started to recognize more and more through his eyes seeing who Christ was and how Christ really actually saw me. And listen, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time. But I’ve come through it to see how Christ was actually my leading man through the horrible circumstances in my life.
The movie October Baby kind of served as a turning point for you both professionally and personally. From your perspective, why was this such an important time in your life?
In a lot of ways that movie was about my life story. Here I was, somebody that for quite some time had hoped to be able to share my testimony with young women, or teenage moms that were looking for hope and trying to continue to pursue their passions, even though being a young mom; and God just brought that in a roundabout way to me through that movie. It really started with the beginning of what it means to actually choose whether or not you’re going to bring that baby into life. So, the Lord really launched that platform. It was so important for me because it really gave me an opportunity again to either say yes or no to God’s plan for me to share my story.
What advice can you give to someone who’s struggling in all phases of life and at this point they just feel really hopeless about their future?
There is hope in all things, and that if we can just take a look at ourselves and say I can do with whatever this brokenness, whatever is required to make me better, I would encourage them to really continue to push through. It takes a lot of tenacity in this life, it takes a lot of push, but that’s why we’re here. Our life really is about serving the Kingdom. We’re not promised this easy journey, but what we are promised is that there will be joy in all things whether we choose it or not, and that all things will be used to His glory. If we really believe the truth then we have to believe that all of the bad can be used for good. I want to challenge people to step into that position and to really take a good look at themselves and say, “How can I take everything that’s going on in my life and use it to serve someone else?”
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