Anne Marie Miller’s (formerly Anne Jackson) “Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace” is a combination of submitted entries from internet blog readers and Anne’s own story of her struggle with “unspeakable” struggles. Anne is transparent in her confession and in her struggle she is able to help others struggling with their own “unspeakable” sins. Not only does this book show us that we need to be more open with our struggles to help others, but it is a message to the church to be more willing to listen to those secret sins that currently are not spoken of.
In Permission to Speak Freely, Anne shows how church leaders’ holier-than-thou words can cause irreparable damage. Their words are often the words that cause people to leave the church permanently, because they feel that they can’t live up to expectations of the church or of God due to overwhelming guilt.
Anne writes that the church is supposed to be a safe place and it’s time for it to take up that role. We are supposed to love the unlovable, protect the vulnerable, and help repair the broken because that’s what Jesus did. But, the church is failing at this task when they are critical and unforgiving. The church is for the broken and we ALL are broken. So, if the church is accepting of us, shouldn’t we be accepting of everyone else? What makes us better than anyone else?
This book was a great help in putting on the path to stop judging others based on what their sin is. God has been doing a great work in me this year and I find that my thought-life is freer than ever. Now I’m working on the vulnerability and commitment pieces to help me build a real Christian community that I can love, support, to have permission to speak freely to, and to do life with. And, amazingly enough, Anne Marie has a new book that I’ll be reviewing as soon as I finish it. It’s called “Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community“. I look forward to sharing that with you soon.