Startling BeautyWhen I finish a book deadline, I do three things:
1) Make a nice dinner for my family.
2) Clean off my desk.
3) Read a good book.
As soon as I typed "The End" on my novel, "A Valley of Betrayal" I knew what book I wanted to read: Startling Beauty by Heather Gemmen. Or to be more accurate, what book I wanted to finish.
The book has been sitting on my nightstand since April. I read about 1/2 of it then stopped for the sole reason it stirred emotions within me that I haven't felt for many years. The full title of Heather's book is: Startling Beauty: My Journey From Rape to Restoration.
Here is the blurb from the inside cover:
"Turn off the light,"Heather sleepily murmured.
When the room went dark, she opened her eyes. The man standing in her bedroom was not her husband.
Raped in her own home, Heather’s terror went beyond her own safety: Were the kids sleeping soundly in the next bedroom, or did their silence mean something else? Would her husband save her, or would he face the same knife she did?
And Heather’s agony did not end after the rapist left. Against all odds, she became pregnant as a result of the rape. Would she and her husband remain united as they faced the tyranny of the choice before them? Would they endure the strain of anxiety as they waited for HIV test results and answered strange telephone calls?
This gripping true-life story walks readers through Heather’s journey from rape to restoration. Startling Beauty is undeniable proof that God can bring blessings out of the worst situations in our lives.
Heather's story is amazing . . . it truly is. Still, I didn't like the emotions it stirred inside me.
I have never been raped like Heather, although there were times in my high school dating relationships my "no" wasn't heeded as it should have been.
And I did know the face of the man who got me pregnant twice before I turned eighteen--one pregnancy that ended in abortion at age 15 and the other with a son at age 17.
Still, the emotions Heather shared in her story were mine. The fear, confusion, and finally the unexpected love for an unplanned child.
But I did it. As soon as my novel was done, I finished the rest of Heather's book, and I let myself have a good cry. I think that as women with painful pasts, we find it easier to forget and move on, than to allow ourselves the right to mourn.
Yet, sometimes God asks us to stop and examine. To see His hand holding ours even during the dark and painful times of our lives. And sometimes He implores us to use our story to help others see that God CAN provide restoration for broken hearts.
Thank you, Heather for sharing your story. And for putting into words some of the emotions I've held inside me for 20 years.
And for reminding me it's okay to cry.