Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

The beauty of imperfection. Shari Rigby began her career as a successful model and is now a sort-after actress whose roles include parts in such quality faith-themed movies as 2013’s Not Today (about human trafficking) and October Baby (about abortion survivors).  CNN named the latter film, a surprise hit, one of the Top 15 Impressive Box Office Performances of 2012. Most recently, she’s one of the stars of the TV pilot The Summers Sisters. In 2015, she can be seen on screen in the inspirational films Boonville Redemption  (a western) and Wildflower (a psychological drama).

When she’s not busy acting or taking care of her family (two sons and her husband of 17 years), Rigby shares her personal story of redemption at various churches, conferences and radio and TV talk shows. She also shares her story in her just-released book Beautifully Flawed—Finding Your Radiance in the Imperfections of Your Life (BroadStreet Publishing). In the book, she recounts a tumultuous life journey that involved searching for love in all the wrong places, drug abuse,  an abortion and her ultimate embrace of Christianity.  

JWK: How did your book Beautifully Flawed come about and what do you hope people take from it?

SHARI RIGBY: Well, Beautifully Flawed came about really at a time when I started the whole journey of October Baby. That was really the catalyst that started me (on) the journey. I was thinking at that point about writing my story down. As we dove into the actual press process of October Baby was really when it became apparent to me that this is something that (needed) to be told.

I was blown away as we went into the press and then, after October Baby released, I was on the road for two and half years speaking. So, I really had an opportunity to sit with pregnancy care centers and maternity homes and different women and men and just hear their stories. I realized that what was really needed when I started penning Beautifully Flawed was that I needed to be very transparent about my life and all of the journey that the Lord has taken me on — how He used all of it, all of the flaws, all of the bad, all of the good, and used it for His glory.

That’s really what I wanted the take away from this book to be — that people would read this book and they would really learn to appreciate their flaws and still see themselves as beautiful through the Eyes of Christ. This was something that was so important. I feel like that’s something that’s what really came across in the book from the beginning to the end — is to lean in and press on the things that make us beautiful  and how Christ then perfects us.

JWK: I’ve heard it said that God uses our scars as entry points into the hearts of other people. I guess that’s pretty much what you’re doing with this book.

SR: Yes, absolutely.

JWK: Can you summarize the story that you tell in your book?

SR: Sure, absolutely. Beautifully Flawed literally starts from me being a little girl early on in life — from Cooperstown on. The way that the book is broken up is into four subchapters. Each one starts with this overall message and kind of leans into what I’m going to share with the readers.

I take you really through this journey of me life from a little girl in Cooperstown, North Dakota to Phoenix, Arizona, going through trying to find love…to teenage pregnancy, marriage, being a single parent. It takes you through all of that. The reader really goes on the journey with me through the relationships, the peaks and valleys, and then it brings them through to my marriage now and all the way through my acting career to a place where then I go on the road and every turn is a challenge. Every turn has something new on the horizon. It’s really a moment of when we say “Yes” to Christ that He will take you on the biggest journey of your life. That’s what I think they get to see in this book. It goes from childhood to now.

JWK: Can you tell me about that moment when you said “Yes” to Christ?

SR: I had been introduced to Jesus at a very young age in my life but I really didn’t know who He was. So, when I was 13 I had gone to a church where the pastor was speaking about heaven and hell and that if you didn’t want to go to hell you needed to accept Christ. So, I raised me hand…I did accept Him at that point in my life but I really didn’t know who Jesus was and I definitely did not start a personal relationship with Him or walking as a believer. But the cool thing was that the Lord really did have me because, as the reader will see as they take this journey,  all of sudden, when they think that everything should be coming up roses, life takes a crazy turn for me as a 13-year-old girl. It was almost like the enemy went after me even harder.

So, then when I was 25 was actually when I really fully re-dedicated my life to Christ and really understood who He was and the grace that He had given me. That was really the turning point of my life — to really understand how I needed to dig deep into knowing who my personal Savior was….It’s been an incredible ever since 25 years of age.

JWK: What led you to decide to tell your story in a book?

SR: As far as the book went…I mean there are lots of stories out there. There are lots of women that have had tumultuous lives and had these crazy times. Basically, what it came down to was the reason why my story is what it is because, ultimately, the only thing that happened is I said “Yes” to the Lord in using it. I fully surrendered my story to use as a testimony to share and be transparent to others. That’s exactly what He’s doing. I think that’s how we are able to share our stories and write them down — or even just verbally speak them.  It’s because we’re diligent in just allowing the Savior to use them.

JWK: I would imagine one of the most difficult points in your life was the abortion. Do you have any advice for women — and men — who have gone through abortion?

SR: I think that my advice to them would be to really seek out somebody that they can speak with — whether it be in their church, a counselor or maybe a leader in their women’s ministry. Seek out somebody that has gone through some of this. There are different ministries that they can go to within their church. If they’re not a believer (they can still reach out to compassionate) church counselors.

But I’ll tell you, John, I think one of my biggest mistakes (was not trusting my parents enough). (One thing) I would really love to encourage people to do — especially young people — is to try to trust more in their parents and try to share more with them about what’s going on.

Sometimes, unfortunately, when we make choices there are consequences but, ultimately, the longer we keep things down and hold them secret, the longer the enemy can use them against us. So, my advice, overall, would be don’t allow those things to hinder you. Speak about them, get them out in the open and allow yourself to go on a recovery process because that’s the Lord’s Heart. He redeems us. He wants to restore us and then prepare us for the Kingdom. That’s my belief.

JWK: In the trailer for the book you’re quoted as saying that your “desire to be needed was an addiction far greater than any drug. It began to eat me alive.” Can you elaborate?

SR: Absolutely. In Beautifully Flawed, I think that’s one of the journeys that the reader’s going to go on. They’re going to see that I was a young woman in an identity crisis like we have going on in this world everywhere. I think this is very applicable to men and women — that they are looking for love in all the wrong places.

What we see on the TV screen, or the film screen or what we listen to in music, we have an illusion of what Prince Charming looks like or Cinderella’s gonna look like in our life and we forget about what true love really means.

The addiction part of that became (that) I was seeking this particular type of man in my life to fill my need and to show me the kind of love that I wanted to have. We’re constantly also this society that thinks that we can fix people, right? Just like my ex had so many issues but I was this person thinking “Oh, goodness, I can fix him. I can make him different.” So, the addiction of wanting to be with him and clean him up (wore me out) more and more until, finally, I was brought to my knees. That’s really what that statement in the book means because I think that happens to (lots of us) and, before we know it, we’ve given ourselves away. Really, the only Leading Man in our life that we can be really fully engaged with and completely loved by is Christ. That’s what I ultimately want to show readers is that that’s where you have to come to. You have to see yourself with the Leading Man and that’s Christ because if He’s first then everything else will fall into place.

JWK: You’re also involved in a group called The Women in My World. Can you tell me about that?

SR: Yes. The Women in My World is my women’s ministry that I have in Los Angeles. It was funny. When I went out to Los Angeles in 2009 I was stuck on becoming an actress. Within in a few months the Lord taught me — just weighing on my heart — that there were a lot of women who just needed to have the opportunity call home. They needed mentoring. They needed just an ear to hear them speak, somebody that would hold their conversations in their heart and not be speaking of them…

…By 2010 I had started a women’s group, The Women in My World. I thought “Well, I’m just going to start it off where women can come and we’re gonna praise the Lord and then we’re gonna pray for each other and that’s how we’re going to spend a couple of hours together in worshipping.” Before I knew it, I went from two women to about 25 and now I have women that Skype in or stay in touch with me that are all over the United States that are part of The Women in My World. I think that it’s just gonna grow. We’re giving women platforms to speak on. I have many actresses, writers, directors that are in my group — photographers, moms, you name it. They’re just really incredible women — ages from about 18 up to about 60 years old.

JWK: You have a family of your own. How many children to you have?

SR: I have two boys. I have Donnie, he’s my oldest, and then I have Levi and he’s my youngest. Those are my two kiddoes.

JWK: What does your husband do?

SR: My husband is in the agricultural industry. He is a distributor. He has a company called Wiedmann Bros.  He sells any kind of gadget/widget you can think of to firms like Kubota, John Deere (and) Case. So, he’s in a completely different business then I am.

JWK: So, it’s good — and encouraging — to see that after the hard times you’ve been through, you’re happy now.

SR: I think this is what people will see in Beautifully Flawed is that there is always a blessing on the other side. Even through the bad times and the valleys, there is a peak coming. It’s just the way that we choose to walk it out…There is a hope on the other side of it. That’s what I would want to encourage people to remember as they read this book…That’s the thing that’s so fun about the book — is that it takes you from one moment where I’m going to be an actress and is everything is going exactly the way that I planned and lined it out to the next minute where I am in recovery for eight months in a bed. We (sometimes) get so far ahead of (ourselves) instead of living out each day that we forget to really appreciate the moment that we’re in — even if it’s (temporarily) bad.

I have to tell you, John, it is so good. I am so happy that my husband and I get to celebrate 18 years together on March 23rd. My family is wonderful. We get to go to India together. I’m doing a new movie over there for the month of March. He gets to travel along go there and celebrate with me. God is doing great things.

JWK: You obviously seen drawn to faith-themed films. Why do you think people are responding so positively to films that deal with matters of faith?

SR: That’s a great question because what we’re seeing with faith-based films is that there are more flying at us and now, of course, we’re talking episodic stuff.

I think, ultimately, people are looking for real heartfelt true stories. They want to engage with them, they want to relate (to) them and, ultimately, they want to have hope. They want to get in and root for these characters. I think people are tired of being slammed with foul language and sexual content that really has nothing to do with (telling a good story)…I am so blessed…I’m thinking to myself “Man, I just want to tell these stories and I want to get better and better. And, God willing, with each movie I do, I get better and I’m able to tell incredible stories that move people into motion. Isn’t that what it’s about? Being that kind of a storyteller. And who better to do it for than my Savior.

JWK: They’re kind of like visual parables.

SR: Absolutely.

JWK: You mentioned “episodic stuff.” Would you be interested in doing a faith-themed TV series?

SR: Yeah, I would love that. I really, really, would love that. I think that a television series would be incredible. We worked on a pilot last year and I’m in development on a couple of other things but I would really love to be part of a (series) telling really incredible stories and bringing the power of (positive) storytelling back into that (medium) again — especially some really incredible women’s stories. I would love to do that. I hope that the Lord allows me to do that. He’s blessed me with everything from speaking, to writing, to movies and television. I mean it’s really incredible how He’s just expanded my territory.

JWK: Is there any talk of a movie based on your book?

SR: Yeah, actually a little bit. I’ve had a couple of people asking me for a screenplay after seeing the book trailer because it was shot film style. I think that’s very much a possibility for it. Hopefully, as we take this journey, I’ll be able to create a really great story and see if we can bring it to life on the big screen.

JWK: Any ideas on who might play you?

SR: Oh, gosh! It’s funny. My lovely Rachel Hendrix (October Baby) sent me a picture about a week ago. She said “Here, Shari, here’s a picture of me. I can look like you when you were 18.” Isn’t that awesome?!

JWK: So, you two are still friends even a few years after finishing up October Baby?

SR: We’re very good friends. She stays with me all the time. We shot together a new show. She was the one that came when I directed my book trailer and created it. She came in and DP’d it for me.

JWK: Speaking of October Baby, I understand that no one was aware of your actual abortion experience when you were offered the role. Did you feel in any way that there was a Larger Hand in how the script found its way to you?

SR: Absolutely…That was really a God moment for me. You know I was telling someone earlier, “Can you imagine if I had not had said ‘Yes’ to making that movie?” That’s the first door that opened. So, I really believe that the Lord’s Hand was all over that. That was His intention to begin this journey for me. I’m so thankful how He did that, how He brought it to light and how (producer/directors Jon and Andy Erwin) also really engaged and said “Yes” to making a film that was controversial (and that) was also a very positive story.

JWK: It must have taken some courage on your part to open up that part of your life.

SR: The interesting thing is that as I sat down and I read that script everything was lining up that this was the Lord’s story. I always believed that my platform would be speaking to young women that were teenagers that had had their babies and were trying to make it as single moms and still have hope and passions and pursuit of great things in their lives. What I found though is that God opened that journey up for me in a just a little bit of a different way. He gave me an even bigger platform to speak about something that was really deep and, actually, the beginning of the process if you think about it because, you know, they actually have to first make the decision to have the child, right?

So, it was really a divine time. There were definitely moments of “Why?” and “How are we going to do this?” and  “You’re giving me only a couple of minutes on screen to do this.” And then, ultimately though, when the Lord met me with that movie script…that was it. I knew every moment and every step from there on with that particular project and what He was doing with it. He strengthened me.

JWK: Can you tell me about the pilot you recently worked on?

SR: Yeah. The Summers Sisters was…a pitch pilot. It brought a lot of the cast members back together from October Baby. It was really fun. It was about three sisters that are all very different and come to live under the same roof…Because of extreme circumstances, they have to (live) together. That was real fun. It’s a comedy-drama. We’ll see how we can take that to the next level.

JWK: You also have a couple of films due out in 2015, one of which is called Boonville Redemption. Can you tell me about that?

SR: Boonville Redemption is excellent. It’s an incredible story…It’s a period piece based on a true story of Boonville which is just outside of San Francisco…(It’s about) a woman finding redemption through circumstances of her being an unwed mother in the early 1900’s. I got to work with Pat Boone, Ed Asner, Diane Ladd. The list goes on and on of incredible people that I got to work opposite of.

JWK: And Wildflower?

SR: Wildflower is a movie I just shot up in New York in October. That was with Cody Longo–I was in Not Today with him–and Nathalia Ramos. It’s a wonderful story…Very much a kind of thriller, a Sixth Sense-type of film revolving around the Lord. I got to play a mother in that who raised this young girl on my own (who) has kind of a crazy past.  The film was directed by Nicholas DiBella who did King’s Faith.

Note:  Beautifully Flawed—Finding Your Radiance in the Imperfections of Your Life (BroadStreet Publishing) is currently available via, Barnes & Noble, Lifeway and Shari

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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