I’m normally the type to mingle with the pages of a book, then walk away from them for a time before returning. But to fall into those pages and want to camp there – that is a rare thing. Yesterday, I opened the water-washed cover of Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson. And tonight, the book’s final pages shared their whispers of confession’s beauty with me. Its contents have captivated my heart and imagination.
Perhaps it’s the honesty and poetry in Anne’s writing that makes the book such a comforting place to dwell. Or perhaps it’s that I find myself in so many of the pages – dealing with the shame, the scars, the pain of being abused, rejected, and betrayed by the very people designed to bring love, comfort, and a sense of family. I’ve been silenced by those in ministry, and have worked for religious organizations where questions were seen as threats. Yet, I believe the Church can still be Christ to the broken, the needy, the hungry and tired. I believe it can still offer sanctuary for the soul.
Permission to Speak Freely is a collection of essays, poetry, and personal confession that focuses on fear, grace, and the beautifully messy act of redemption. The book isn’t tidy – it’s transparent and raw and brutally honest. It cuts to the heart of who we are, and offers healing through the act of Biblical confession and community. Anne understands the tension between the messy and the beautiful, and her book brings it to life in a real, unvarnished, much-needed way.
“It’s time for us to put all we have out in the open – not for the sake of faux humility or self-deprecating exploitation or attention, but for recognizing the things the Cross stands for and left for us: ultimate love and undiscriminating grace.”
Anne Jackson reminds us that God does give us permission to speak freely. And in her book, she reminds us of our need to speak – and confess – and allow Him to glory in both our brokenness and beauty.