Tuesday, September 7, 2010

book review: "permission to speak freely" by anne jackson

Fear soaks into their bloodstream like a paralyzing virus and prevents them from taking a step in the beautiful, wonderful and difficult life in front of them. Fear wants to stop our stories.”

Anne begins her book with a glimpse into her childhood. She grew up as a preacher’s kid and as a result moved a lot as her father would pastor church after church. She had a hard time establishing real relationships and one memory stands out to her. She was in the fourth grade. She and two other girls were best friends and sealed the bond with a friendship necklace. One day the truth came out. While one pushed her down, the other tore her necklace off, telling her “we never wanted to be your best friend! Our parents made us!” Anne ran home, seeking refuge in her room where her mother found her. “I told her that Leigh and Amy hated me. That I hated moving and I missed my old friends and I hated deacons and school and my life and I hated the church. My mom quietly stroked my sweaty hair. I now think she was quiet because she kind of agreed with me.”

About twenty years late, Anne takes a job at a church but meets resistance when wanting to discuss certain topics on her blog. Since working for the church, her views could be associated with the church and therefore they had a say in what she could and couldn’t write about. Anne didn’t like that. “It had been so long since I had been in church, I forgot there were certain things that people were expected to keep quiet about. Like life…” In May 2008, Anne asked the question on her blog “what’s one thing you feel you can’t say in the church?” The response was huge. She tried to find a commonality amid the responses – something linking them all together and ultimately came up with brokenness. “We ultimately want to hide what’s broken, whether it occurs individually or in a community…”

I loved Anne’s honesty. She openly talks about the things she’s struggled with – depression, pornography, being abused when she was sixteen, and her belief in God. She talks about the Gift of Going Second. This is when by someone coming forward and admitting their struggle with something, others know it’s ok to say they’re dealing with the same thing. That’s the basic point of her book in my opinion. She’s giving all those who read it the Gift of Going Second. To know she’s been there and has been able to come through it. “And if you are the one who needs hope today, please take whatever you can of mine…”

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