This new book by author Anne Jackson should be read by every Christian who is concerned about being real, and who is concerned about the church--even if, especially if you've been wounded by and/or alienated by the church. The subtitle of this book is "Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace"--the book revolves around the fear that we all have, the blessing that confession (speaking the truth) can be, and the grace that God offers us, especially in relationship with others.
But this is not a typical Christian self-help book, which I think is its strength. It is an amalgamation of art, stories (including many from the author's own life), poetry, and more. Reading it delivers an experience of feeling that can be rare sometimes in the Christian world--the feeling that we can be real, we can be who we are, we can say how we really and truly feel (yes, all of it) and it is okay, even good. It sort of gives you permission to feel. To be. To receive love from God and from others. This is hard to describe in a review. Most of all this book delivers a wonderful experience, like taking a bath in God's love and grace.
The book reminds me in some ways of the PostSecret books by Frank Warren, and the art is similar in that it is confessional and real. But this book is Christian, and it includes lots of text (unlike the PostSecret books) in the form of short chapters, poetry, confessional autobiography, and lessons the author has learned--the latter is my favorite part of the book. I found it slightly disorganized (not a bad thing in this case) and profound. I loved it!
I have recently recommitted my life to Christ and returned to the church and found this to be a healing balm for my soul. In my return, I'd been concerned about losing the authenticity I've gained in my life away from the church, and was not sure how to be a Christian and still be loving instead of legalistic and judgmental (as I'd been in the past when I attended church). This book helped me greatly.
The ideal reader for this book is the Christian who feels broken or tired or muzzled or hyper-conforming or hidden or numb or frustrated or lonely or isolated. If you feel this way, this is the book for you. It is based on Scripture, but not filled with references; it is not a theology book. It is also not for people who want to be told what to do (as in "Six Ways to Feel Better Fast", for example). It does include occasional adult themes and language, but in an appropriate manner with the purpose of the book--I did not find anything in this book offensive.
Highly, highly recommended.