Book Review: Permission to Speak Freely
The inspiration for this book came when Anne Jackson posted a question on her blog: What is one thing you feel you can't say in church? The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of people responded, Christians and non-Christians alike. People confessed to fears, addictions, doubts about God and the Bible, and many other things. Most people posted anonymously while others signed their name.
Many of these "confessions" are printed in the book and reveal hurts and pains that have, in many cases, been caused by those who profess the Name of Christ. Anne shares her own story of rejection, betrayal, abuse, and pain. She was a pastor's daughter in a fundamentalist church. Much of her pain was caused by those who used the Bible as a weapon to judge and punish her. It was not until later in her life that Anne realized the Bible contained, "Themes of grace, forgiveness, and love..." Before that, it had just been a book that church people used to beat up those who did not look or act like them.
The book is an excellent read, though Jackson's honesty and transparency can be a little uncomfortable at times. It should make those of us that are involved in Church leadership at any level evlauate what kind of atmosphere we are creating. Do people have the freedom to talk about difficult things? Do our members have the freedom to share their struggles, knowing that they are not going to be judged?
One of the themes that Jackson develops is that of confession. We find healing and forgiveness when we confess our sins, fears, and doubts to each other. This is also one of the most difficult things on the planet to do. Anne understands how difficult this can be and she talks about giving The Gift of Going Second. This involves us taking the initiative and confessing our sin, etc., with someone that we feel might be struggling. This will often give them the strength that they need to open up and confess as well. What a beautiful gift this is!
Do you have someone that you can share anything with without fear of rejection?