Bonnie S. Calhoun
the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online
Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian
Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for
Hiding Behind Fiction
I would like to welcome to this column a great woman that I met in 2006 when I first came into the Christian writing world. I followed the news on her first baby, Novel Journey, and then I was invited into her critique group, the Penwrights. I can truthfully say she is very dear to me. Give a warm welcome to Gina Holmes!
I have a confession to make—I haven’t been honest. One question we writers are most asked is “Where did the idea of your story come from?”
With my latest novel, Dry as Rain, I’ve skirted around that question with pat answers like, “I don’t know exactly,” and less pat answers like, “I see a lot of marriages crumble I think could be saved.” Though neither of these are false, neither are they true.
Shame kept me from wanting to shine a light on the real truth. Sin hides in the darkness, but it is only by allowing the light in that we find healing and give others the courage to do the same.
Dry as Rain tells the story of a man madly in love with his wife, until years of misunderstandings, unkind words, and selfish ambition put a wedge between them, which grew into a chasm.
I know something about that divide, because I’ve stared into it myself. But the chasm between a husband and wife wasn’t the only edge I’ve teetered on.
Let me start at the beginning. I married a man who was, and is, a good man, a Christian who struggles as we all do.
With his blessing, I’d like to share the full story of where the idea of Dry as Rain came from in hopes I might inspire some of you to do the same when you’re asked where your ideas for stories come from.
When my ex-husband and I met, we were both ready for a relationship that would lead to marriage. A mutual friend told me that my ex had said he would marry the next girl he dated. I happened to be that girl.
Many red flags were waving, but I chose to ignore them: alcoholism, boundary issues, anger, lies, and a lack of chemistry for starters. But here was a hurting man, and in my codependent state, I thought I would be the one to help him.
And I did, for a while. He gave up drinking, ate his veggies, and accompanied me to church.
When our first child came along, things went from bad to worse. We sought counseling, marriage conferences, and joined a small marriage group to help us along. These things were useful, but never seemed to get to the heart of what was really wrong.
My husband rejected me physically so much I felt like a rat in a maze electrocuted every time it reached for the cheese. Years passed this way as we fell into a relationship that was more like brother and sister. For someone whose love language is touch, I was dying a slow, excruciating death.
I talked to him about it time and again, but it did little good. I prayed, but it didn’t seem to change anything. Night after night, I cried on my knees before God. I felt so ugly, so unlovable, so alone. The pain became unbearable. It literally felt like I had a knife lodged in my heart. My husband could not, or would not, put into words why he didn’t want me.
I tried to talk with a few close friends and family about my situation, hoping someone could make sense of it. I got little sympathy and a lot of smirks. A woman rejecting her husband is common enough. A man rejecting his wife sounds like the start of a bad joke. I would get answers like, “Man, you’re lucky. My husband won’t leave me alone.”
I sat beside him in church, fighting not to cry as I saw husbands wrap their arms around their wives. I tried to put my hand in his, only to have him drop it.
The only explanation seemed that I was fatally unattractive. I asked if coloring my hair, losing weight, or getting breast implants would make him want me. I would have done almost anything. His answer was absolutely not. He said I was beautiful.
I didn’t believe him. If I was, he would want me.
I began to seriously wonder if he was secretly gay, until I discovered he was renting pornography. I can’t tell you what it feels like to realize the only person on earth you’re allowed to have a physical relationship with would rather fill his needs with a stranger on TV than with you.
During this time of loneliness and confusion I found myself attracted to other men. Knowing it was a symptom of our hurting marriage, I confessed to my husband, pleading for change.
His reaction was amusement.
I sank into hopelessness. Little did I understand the transformation occurring in my soul. The good that God had promised even from evil was being worked.
Until I had been tested myself, I had no sympathy for someone who would commit adultery. There was no excuse in my mind. And while I didn’t commit this sin physically, in my heart I wanted to, which is, as the Bible says, as good as doing it.
It turned out my husband had more issues than I knew. He’d been struggling with a hidden drug addiction, as well as anger and resentment. After he divorced me, he wrote a letter of apology with an explanation that he just couldn’t be attracted to someone who wouldn’t let him manipulate her. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t seem to help it.
As much as that confession hurt, I was proud that he was being honest with himself and me. That admission was the start of his healing, and mine. I’m proud to say while our marriage hasn’t survived, he’s been in recovery for years and I am now married to a man who tells me that I’m beautiful, and I believe it.
Why am I baring my soul about this very personal matter? The simple answer is God told me to. There are others who, like me, are writing from deep pain but afraid to answer the question truthfully of where the idea came from.
Like the demon-filled man whom Jesus delivered in the gospel of Luke, we are called to tell others what God has done for us.
Today, I am an adored and desired wife, friends with my ex-husband, and a broken vessel rebuilt—constantly reminded of the sinner I am and the grace I need. I am healed. I am forgiven and I am beautiful.
Dry as Rain is my story in so many ways. I am Eric, the cheater who tried to fill the void of loneliness. I am Kyra, his wife, who had to learn to forgive. I am Benji, their son, who felt lost and hopeless and manipulated, but eventually found acceptance and purpose.
And I am taking off the mask that Satan keeps trying to hide me behind. It’s drafty without it. I feel incredibly naked, but my goal as a writer, and more so as a Christian, is to tell the truth, and let others who read my story know they are not alone.
God has healed me and given me back what the locusts have eaten.
That is what God has done for me. What has He done for you?
In 1998, Gina Holmes began her career penning articles and short stories. In 2005 she founded the influential literary blog, Novel Journey. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her husband and children in Southern Virginia. Her debut novel, Crossing Oceans, is a Christy finalist, INSPY, and Inspirational Readers Choice winner. Her latest novel, Dry as Rain, releases September 2011. To learn more about her, visit www.ginaholmes.com or www.novelrocket.com.