Several weeks ago, my hands fell on a book that I was more than curious about. The title of the book alone intrigued me, and the question on the back of the book sparked my interest.
“Permission to Speak Freely” by Anne Jackson is a collection of essays and art on fear, confession, and grace. My personal favorite is the grace. Anne Jackson posted a simple question on her blog:
What is one thing you feel that you can’t say in the church?
The response Anne received on her blog was overwhelming; this book is the result. The author shares her own struggles and “writes about the tension between brokenness and holiness.”
I’m highly recommending this book to two groups of people….and I am guessing you fall in one of the two.
1. You’ve been hurt by someone in the church through the years, whether in leadership or not, whether you were attending or not; and you have built a code of protection by which you live around “church people.”
2. You’ve not been personally hurt by someone in the church, but you know of someone who has. And you are not willing to open yourself up to such hypocritical living.
The point of “Permission to Speak Freely” is to let you know that you are not alone; countless of other people have encountered similar circumstances. Fear, shame, rejection…brokenness. Boiled down, humanity.
Sin surrounds us; even in church.
My personal experiences within the church became very real to me through this book. I quickly fired off three statements that came from past years of experience:
- “When your mother has cancer, you need the love of Jesus. Not distant looks.” What do I mean? I wish more people would have grabbed my hand, sincerely looked me in the eye and said: “I’m praying for you; in fact, could I pray with you right now?” Am I carrying a grudge that Christians at church didn’t respond the way I feel impressed to respond now? No way! But God has put a desire in my heart to minister to those whose parents have cancer. And I refuse just to formally smile with compassion.
- “When your husband has an affair, you need the grace of Jesus, not proverbial pats on the back.” I remember making a few frantic phone calls when my ex-husband revealed the details of what was happening in our marriage. Yes, some dear friends responded graciously. But over the long haul, I needed more than a social network. I needed someone to feel the burden of what was happening to me and pray hard for me. When I knew they were praying and when I didn’t know they were praying. And so when I hear of divorce, even people I don’t know personally, my heart aches and the Holy Spirit whispers, “Intercede for them.”
- “When your child is dying, you crave the Word of God, not superficial social interaction.” This point is the closest to my present circumstances and while it is great to have friends, and I’m blessed with some wonderful ones, when I go to church, I want to soak up life principles. I want God’s Word to be preached and taught…to the point to where I don’t care for anything that is not real and true. Potlucks have their place, but not in my schedule. Crocheting is a wonderful art; but I’d rather study God’s Word.I need it to survive; it is my lifeline.
My encouragement from this book is to be willing to open myself to confessing my own personal struggles, the GRACE that God gives, and the power God provides through living in the Holy Spirit and being grounded in His Word. I hope that by reading this post; you are encouraged to do the same. It’s the gift of going second.