I read a book a last year by Anne Jackson that I couldn’t put down. She had asked the question “What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?” Her book, Permission to Speak Freely is the result of the responses she received about everything from struggling with trying to be accepted all the way to addictions and depression.
Anne writes about finally admitting her personal struggles and being willing to talk about them, sharing the trials and victories in her life and the goodness and grace of God that came when she learned to speak freely. The focus of the book is to help us begin the tough conversations that will ultimately lead us into the healing that God has for us. She invites her readers to talk about the tough stuff that typically isn’t talked about in church.
One of the things I love about the book is when she talks about the Gift of Going Second… When you confess or reveal something first, it allows others the freedom to follow, giving a gift that keeps moving forward. I am a very visual learner so the picture of handing someone a gift when I share my story of pain or shame or struggle really spoke to me. I know how much better I feel when I finally open up and confess. Sometimes we just need someone to go first!
In this book, Anne Jackson is careful to point out that she hasn’t figured everything out and she’s still on the journey. And while I have not experienced everything Anne has been through, I did identify with the shame sin causes in our lives and the risk she took to open up. I now know that by me being myself, not hiding behind a false perception, I might encourage someone else to speak freely too.