Permission to Speak Freely
I just finished Anne Jackson’s Permission to Speak Freely. On the front cover the book is described as “essays and art on fear, confession, and grace.” I think that is accurate. In the book Anne Jackson tells her story and reflects on how it has affected her and the roads it has led her down. Combined with Jackson’s story and reflections are confessions from others. This is the art part of the book and it stems from a question Jackson asked on her blog in 2008. ”What is the one thing you feel you can’t say in the church?” She received so many responses to this question that she began a website to host it all.
A dilemma I have encountered several times in my ministry is having to answer for churches or church members who do not do what is right. This problem is usually recognized by a member who is not a part of the core leadership of the church, or it is recognized by a non-member. Sometimes this problem is even used as an excuse not to become a part of the church. Jackson does not give us an answer to the problem, but she shares her story of how churches and church members had hurt her and her family over the years. The amazing thing is that through all the trials and tribulations Jackson comes out the other side a better person and a more faithful Christian.
Although this book is not meticulously laid out like others, I believe the main focus is to get us to recognize the importance and power of confession. We need to be able to confess before we can be healed. Part of the problem is that we have created environments within our churches where people do not feel open to share what is really happening in their life. The church should be the one place where a person feels comfortable sharing anything. As Christians we must learn how to confess our struggles and we must create environments in and outside the church for others to do the same.
“Someone once told me that there is a difference between admission and confession, and I think that’s important to recognize. Admission is just sharing something that’s wrong so you can get it off your chest. Confession, on the other hand, is the beginning of transformation. When you confess something that’s shattered in your life, something that you’ve kept hidden, you’re acknowledging that you need the Cross. You need God’s grace, and you’re willing to allow it to find you as you seek the truth.” Excerpt from Permission to Speak Freely