Shari Rigby believes that no one - no matter how broken - is beyond the reach of the Savior's arms.
Her own life is a testimony to that very fact: While she is today a successful actress, speaker and author, Shari was once a frightened teenager whose life involved drug abuse, an abortion, and searching for love in all the wrong places.
Shari shares her amazing story of redemption in her biography, Beautifully Flawed-Finding Your Radiance in the Imperfections of Your Life (BroadStreet Publishing). She also stars in the upcoming movie Extraordinary, a powerful film about perseverance, faith, and marriage. Shari has been married to her husband, Matt, for 20 years, and they have two sons together.
In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, Shari opened up about her "beautifully flawed" life, her passion for ministering to women, and how Christian couples can have a strong and lasting relationship in a culture that constantly pushes against marriage.
GH: You wrote your biography titled Beautifully Flawed - can you tell us a little about your book and why it was import to you to share your story with the world?
SR: We have so many issues right now in society, and we're constantly talking about pro-life and pro-choice issues in the media. A lot of my story came from the film October Baby, which deals with the issue of abortion. So, I decided to share my own story, and I wrote Beautifully Flawed to reveal what I had gone through and the mistakes that I had made - so many things that, most people would've looked at me and said, "she's a failure." But, I turn it around and say, "look at what God has done with my story - he's taken everything in my life and used it for his glory." Women have reached out to me daily, sharing how Beautifully Flawed saved their lives. They know that they can still move forward. There's still great hope and possibilities. We believe that.
GH: You created a book trailer for Beautifully Flawed. Why did you feel it was important to create a book trailer?
SR: We wanted people to see this story visually; we wanted to tell it in a way that they could really sit down and place themselves within this. We didn't want people to dive into the book and realize, "wow, she's talking about drugs, she's talking about alcohol - some really hardcore stuff." We wanted people to understand we were biting off some intense subjects, that we are very human and very flawed, we go through a lot of things in our lives and yet there's still a hope for it."
GH: Is it painful reading about - and watching - your younger self? Do you ever wish you could go back in time and remind yourself of your priceless worth?
SR: Absolutely I do. That's why for me, my greatest purpose in this life is to do exactly that with other women, because I can relate so well on so many levels to women of all ages who've walked through so many trials and tribulations. I wish that I would have had somebody to minister to me, to tell me that I was still perfectly and wonderfully made, that I had a lot of opportunity and potential.
GH: Can you share with us a quick story that you have received from a reader after reading Beautifully Flawed?
SR: One young woman had been given my book, and she read it and afterward found out she was pregnant. She was a young woman that was one of the first in her family to go to college, she had a bright future ahead of her. She thinks all is lost, and she's considering having an abortion, thinking there is no way she can achieve her dreams or goals. She reads my book and ends up seeing October Baby, and ends up choosing life. Right after her baby was born, she ends up sending me an email with a picture of her baby boy, telling me about how my book and the film impacted her life and reminded her she could still achieve her goals.
There are so many stories, and I keep all of them.
GH: Let's talk about Extraordinary. Why do you think that David & Nancy Horton's story is important to tell? And do you relate to their story in your own marriage?
SR: Extraordinary is about a husband and wife who have run the race, and it's so important to tell because they're very transparent. Marriage is hard, and pursuing and really serving the Lord can sometimes be really hard. Nancy felt insignificant when it came to her husband's successful running career. But what she came to realize was that her role was just as significant as David's - just different. It's about a marriage race and how we do it well.
When the Bible tells us to run the race and persevere, that same principle applies to our marriages. Anything that is worth anything is achieved by working hard, and the payoff is significant. After 20 years of marriage, my husband and I have been through so many ups and downs - but we are better for it. We could have ended our marriage, but by the grace of God, we didn't. The perseverance has taught me to love my husband even more, and also understand God's love for us.
GH: What message do you hope the audience walks away with after seeing Extraordinary?
SR: I hope audiences are reminded that marriage it is about perseverance and encouraging and lifting up the other person in the marriage. It's about seeing their value and cultivating those passions and serving the Lord together.