I highly recommend the spiritual memoir Thin Places, by Mary DeMuth. It is beautifully written and has a powerful, courageous message of endurance and hope. Don’t let the difficult content keep you from reading this book. You will be a better person for doing so. Purchase it at your local store or online.
I am not a big memoir reader, but when fellow author Mary E. DeMuth released Thin Places, I could hardly wait for it to arrive in my mailbox. I wasn’t disappointed. Or, maybe I was.
I was disappointed because so many terrible things have happened to my friend in her lifetime. I knew it was hard for her, but it was worse than I’d previously thought. Mary has been honest in the writing community about her difficult journey as a survivor of childhood rape, abuse and neglect, but many of us didn’t really know the extent of the abuse and how much it hurt her until we read Thin Places.
I admit that at times I wanted to close this book against the atrocities inside. I didn’t want to think of one of my favorite authors and writing friends as having gone through such terrible things as a child. I didn’t want to believe that our darling Mary still carries such hurt and pain from her childhood. And in essence, these are probably the same types of feelings that keep people like Mary from coming forward to tell the truth.
Thin Places needs to be read from the first page to the last in the same way that our society needs to stop closing the book on the stories of abuse survivors. Statistics tell us we all know people who have experienced what Mary did, but we don’t usually know who those people are. I suspect we go to church with them, sit by them at soccer games, eat lunch with them and work beside them every day and never know the pain they carry.
Reading Mary’s memoir made me angry. Angry at the perpetrators who harm children. Angry at a society that makes it so easy for the perpetrators to keep victimizing. It made me angry that abuse goes on under our noses every day and it is so easy to spot if we would only open our eyes to see it. Even in churches, we don’t Really want to know that such nice folks could do such bad things. It’s hard to imagine that such terrible things happen in Christian circles. Victims of such unspeakable crimes know this, so they remain silent.
Mary speaks what has been unspeakable for too long and shows us how her abuse followed her throughout life and most importantly, how she survived – and how she is still surviving. Mary writes about her journey with grace and courage. I hope it breaks out and sells a million copies.
Some may wonder how this memoir is different from other memoirs we might have read with Oprah or seen on the NYT list, so I’ll tell you how. For one thing, Thin Places was released in the Christian market. While I suspect it will have a much wider audience, this type of memoir has never been needed more in the church community. We speak of grace and acceptance in our faith, but molestation is rarely discussed in our churches. It is taboo, and understandably so. It’s a difficult topic.
When we find out it is happening, Christians can be quick to judge. It is just so hard to imagine someone from our own church community doing such a terrible thing as to harm a child. We need Mary’s books, and hopefully others to come, to shed light on this issue in the Christian community so victims can come forward in confidence and find healing.
Lest I make Thin Places sound depressing, I want to say that it is not at all. Moving, yes. Sad in obvious ways, yes. Depressing, no. Rather, this book is filled with hope and that is the other way in which it is different than some of the mainstream books we have all read before. Mary’s amazing journey to find peace in her Christian community and with her family should bring hope to other survivors whether they go to church or not. And for the rest of us, Thin Places should open our eyes and help us recognize truth when we can feel deep down that something about a situation or a friend’s problem is deeper than it appears.
You are so courageous and strong. You inspire me to be a better person, a better friend and a better mom. You inspire me to cling to Jesus. You inspire me to be a better writer and I am so happy that you are bringing hope to so many. I have a feeling that this book, Thin Places, will be quietly passed around and that you will not get to know about every person it touches, but maybe you will create safe places – thin places of sorts – within families, churches and other circles for victims to come forward and find the grace you have found.
Note: If you are a victim, you might start with sharing your secret anonymously at Mary’s site My Family Secrets: http://blog.myfamilysecrets.org/