I figured it was only a matter of time before the Christian publishing world came up with a response to Post Secret, the wildly popular series of books that started with a simple website of postcard secrets people sent to the author.
What I didn’t figure was that it would be in the form of a book that despite having a subtle inspirational nod to the original is extremely unique in its own right. This book is Permission To Speak Freely by popular blogger Anne Jackson, who started this project with a simple question: What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church? The question, which originated on the web, solicited hundreds of responses and inspired a bounty of user-generated pieces of artwork.
Like Post Secret, the book features a collection of some of these user-generated responses to the question, but what makes the book more than just a coffee table conversation starter is Jackson’s prose and poetry that give context for her own journey of fear, confession.
One of the most memorable examples of this is when she talks about the Gift of Going Second, which is essentiality the practice of confessing your sin first so that you give someone the space and the comfort to confess their own sin second. It gave me goosebumps when Anne shares a story of how she confessed her struggle with pornography to a teenage girl she met at a concert because she felt the Holy Spirit telling her that this girl also struggled with similar issues. As she shares this story, it’s hard not to imagine yourself in the situation and how difficult it would be to confess something like that to a total stranger. But in the end, this simple confession leads to the beginning of healing for the girl, who has since gone on to help countless other teenage girls with similar struggles.
That Anne Jackson doesn’t hold back in her own confessing throughout the book makes the entire book feel like a Gift of Going Second. As the title suggests, Anne’s honesty about her own struggles and her own messy journey of faith gives the reader Permission to Speak Freely about their own struggles with sin, with church and with other Christians.
Having finished the book, I have a strong urge to pass it along to others to read, but I have to balance that urge with the desire I have to, since the design itself is such a work of art, keep it on the shelf for the decoration alone. I recommended buying more than one copy – one to keep and one to pass on. In my mind, it’s that important of a book.
NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by its publisher, Thomas Nelson.