Friday, June 21, 2013


Juxtaposed: Finding Sanctuary on the Outside is one of the most difficult books I've ever read, but not because it was poorly written. With sharp focus, salty language, and unexpected humor, Daisy Rain Martin tells the painful, harrowing story of her abuse at the hands of her mother and "stepmonster" - her stepfather. How two adults could treat their three children in the ways that she describes is completely unfathomable to me, truly unfathomable.

Raised in Las Vegas, Daisy introduces the readers to her home city, the showgirls who perform there, her glamorous grandmother, her family, and her church before issuing a warning:

You can skip this whole next section if you prefer. It's not like I'm dying to write it anyway. If you're the kind of person who would rather just duly note that I was abused as a child and leave it at that, I invite you to jead straight for the next chapter. I'm not offended in the least, and here's why.

The cutesy song we all sang in Vacation Bible School, Be careful littel eyes what you see, Be careful little ears what you hear, is more than just an admonition for children to refrain from inappropriate conduct. It's damn good advice. I've seen and heard things I wish I hadn't - things that haunt me now and will for as long as memore serves. When I reveal the sordid details of the abuse I suffered, I have the potential to lay the weight of it upon people I care about. And, frankly, it's heavy. There is nothing that obligates you, the reader, to carry the burden of my past pain, and I hope you will not carry an ounce of it.

I don't." (pp. 30-31)

And the way that she tells the story provides significant evidence to the truth of that last statement. The sordid details of her abuse are indeed sordid. The depth of the evil she endured is profound indeed. But the strength and courage Daisy employed in order to escape her abusers and create a full and free life for herself is remarkable. Her story is so powerful because it is so painful.

One of the aspects of this book that I like best is Daisy's willingness to both ask tough questions and speak boldly about her inability to understand where God was in the midst of all that happened to her. Once while working as a waitress at a restaurant, she dealt with a customer who rudely demanded coffee while telling everyone that Jesus loved them.

Daisy reflects on that encounter this way: I can't fault her one bit. I essentially did the same thing. I could talk about the love of God with the best of them. And I wasn't even aware that I wasn't aware of how God really feels about me. I would proclaim while being completely clueless: "Jesus died for my sins! Oh, how He must love me!" 

I never delved into the depths of myself where my thoughts melded togethe with my feelings - where my mind met my soul - to admit what was really true for me: Jesus stood by and did nothing while I was being ravaged by a monster. (p. 59)

During the many years of her abuse, Daisy prayed without ceasing for rescue, for an end to the abuse, and for her parents to understand the horrors of what they were doing. After repeatedly pleading with God for help, she received an answer: "No, I will not rescue you. You have to rescue yourself." The rest of the book is the story of how she did just that.

Daisy Rain Martin's story, as difficult as it is to read, is also encouraging because if she can survive her horrendous childhood and enter into adulthood with the hope that she exudes then there is hope for all of us. Her astounding bravery, her vivacious spirit, her sharp tongue, her unrepentant anger at her mother, alongside her fear of her stepmonster combined to make this book one that is both enthralling and appalling. At the same time. On every page.

I read it slowly with tissues close at hand. I suggest you do the same. And give a copy of it to anyone you know who has ever suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of a family member, a spiritual leader... or anyone else.

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