Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review: Permission to Speak Freely

I love Anne Jackson. I do not know her personally (but I have a feeling I will soon!) but I do feel that connectedness with her when I read her blog: FlowerDust.net.



I knew she was about to release a book called "Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace." To my delight, it was available for review on Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program. *

The birth of the book began when she posted this question on her blog:

"What is one thing you feel you can't say in church?"

When she posted this question, I wasn't one of her readers at that time but this week, I got a glimpse on how this one question generated a plethora of responses way beyond what the author had anticipated. I wholeheartedly believe that God opened an opportunity for her to be the voice who will stir the hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of members of Christ's body to finally be openly authentic about the true condition of their hearts.

A first impression of the book might come across as a PostSecret type of publication. A lot of Jackson's readers sent in artwork with sobering confessions -- stuff that they cannot say out loud in church.

That in itself is interesting enough. I like looking at truth even if it is painful. Getting a chance to see the wounded hearts of my brothers and sisters allows me to appreciate over and over again the kind of grace God has lovingly given to me and to them.

The author's revelations about her addictions and continued healing is a gift to anyone who gets to read this book. All of us have been broken at one point in our lives, and probably still are.

The saddest part in the midst of this brokenness is having to keep it all inside for fear of being judged by the church -- which is either assumed or because of a valid experience with spiritual leadership that wants everything to look "perfect."

Jackson's disclosure of her journey has given me encouragement and that extra push to be more comfortable with the habit of confession among people I am accountable with. While I have no problem letting God know what's on my mind at any time, I sometimes feel a certain amount of discomfort (my reasons shall be discussed in a future blog post) in being transparent with people I am closely walking this journey with. I think I have gotten better at it, but I still have a long way to go.

One thing I know for sure as I finished reading the book: victory and healing over our souls' darkness begin with confession to God and to other believers who will listen with Christ-like compassion. And I am certain that my Daddy gives that opportunity to me every single day.

*I would have bought it anyway even if it wasn't ;-)

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