Friday, September 10, 2010


It started with one simple question:

"What is one thing you feel you can't say in church?"

The response that Anne Jackson received was phenomenal.  She had struck a nerve with believers and nonbelievers alike.  Using the responses she received, plus her own personal experiences, she wrote, PERMISSION TO SPEAK FREELY.

Growing up in Southern Baptist churches, a preacher's daughter, it became apparent to Anne that what Christians say and do in church is completely different from what the Bible tells us:

"Themes of grace, forgiveness, and love are woven
in and out of the tissue thin pages.  But proof of the opposite
is more often what so many of us experienced
if we spent any amount of time at church or around church people"

She did not see or feel the love and grace that she read about in the Bible. This made a big impression on her as a young child...a negative one. And it was the actions of those "Christians" from her early childhood that changed the course of her life.  Anne set out on a journey to try to escape the loneliness she felt and the pain and confusion she was experiencing.
  • Alcohol
  • Pills
  • Addiction
  • Sex
  • Abuse
She was searching for that "safe" place we all long for.  A place where she could talk freely about her loneliness and brokenness without feeling rejected or shunned.  Did she find that safe place?  Well, I'm not telling.  You'll have to read the book to find out.

But, I am going to be honest with you...I cried while reading this book...a lot! Now, the average person may not become so emotional while reading this book, but I felt such a connection with this dear author and the suffering she experienced.  I have walked a similar path with my daughter, Hollie.

I don't want you to think this book is all about church-bashing, because it's not.  Permission to Speak Freely is a beautiful book filled with art, poetry, true confessions, the word of God, and so much more.  Anne writes this book to let all of us know we are not alone in our:
  • Shame
  • Brokenness
  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Loneliness
In this book, Anne confesses all of her darkest secrets, as a "gift of going second". The idea is that if you confess (a secret) and you are the first to do it, then 

"...there's somebody on the other side of that confession who could very well be keeping a secret too.  
So when you go first, you're opening up this amazing opportunity for trust..." 
"When people go second, it's not an easy thing, but because you've already broken the silence 
- you've already released some of the shame in that confession - 
it makes it a little bit easier."

The gift of going second. I don't know if this is a new concept or not, but it is the first time I have heard  about it. (I don't get out much.) But I started thinking...I have confessed a lot of stuff here on my blog (with Hollie's permission of course). I have talked about her struggles with cutting, drugs, date rape, attempted suicide, and abuse, and in turn, other mothers with struggling teens have commented or emailed me with their teen troubles. It became easier for them to admit they also had a troubled teen, because someone else had already confessed.

Permission to Speak Freely is a book we can all relate to, especially if you have ever felt the need to keep silent in church. 

What is my confession? When I was going through these troubled times with Hollie, I would go to church with a smile on my face like nothing was wrong, when in reality I was a single mom, who needed guidance and support, but I was afraid of being I kept quiet.

What is one thing you feel you can't say in church?

In the back of this book are a couple of websites that can be very useful if your teen or someone else you no is struggling.  One is TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS "TWLOHA is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide."  Another website,, helps women overcome pornography addiction.

Anne Jackson is an author, speaker, and activist. A contributing writer to various blogs and magazines, she is also the author of Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic.  Anne is a cyclist who rides for the Ride Well Tour, a cross-country cycling tour raising awareness and funds for Blood Water Mission.  An advocate for Compassion International, Anne and her husband, Chris, live near Nashville, TN.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 


Anonymous said...

I so agree - what you cannot say, what you cannot talk about. And because you cannot talk about it, it creates huge problems. I also love what your book is about - burnout!We experienced that - but are recovering and stepping back into to serving again.

You might like my article for Sanctified Together:

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