If I took one message from Falling Free by Shannan Martin, it is to wholeheartedly embrace the brokenness of humanity. This book made me examine my own life, a key component for the Non-Fiction genre in my eyes. It taught me things I haven’t considered before. God’s plans for our lives could be well beyond our comfort zones, if we only relinquish a bit of our “control”.
“Aren’t we all looking for the same exact things, to be accepted and loved in our brokenness?”
I normally find it hard to write down coherent thoughts on Christian Non-Fiction. I’m no theologian– only a simple, Jesus-loving Texan gal. Let’s be honest, this is the first time I’m doing it here on our blog. Dear readers and blogging friends, bear with me, please. If Christianity isn’t your thing, keep reading if you’re intrigued, or ignore this post altogether. I’m not into pushy-faith, but I would like to share it every once in a while, too. I do consider myself a Christian first and foremost, though I am ashamed to admit God takes the back burner in my life frequently. This year, I want to remedy that a bit by trying to partake in the goodness of Christian literature from time to time. I won’t review them all, but to keep a broader range of books, some will pop up on here occasionally.
Falling Free is the debut novel of author and long-time blogger, Shannan Martin. She shares her story about losing the comfort of her middle-class lifestyle and the struggle and freedom that came with it when her husband accepted the position of a jailhouse chaplain.
For most of us, we imagine constantly moving forward in life. We want more money, bigger homes, nicer cars, and a sizeable retirement. This is what the American Dream teaches us, after all. Now imagine willingly going backward and having a graceful attitude about it. This is exactly what Shannan and her growing family did, in God’s name. Hard to imagine? I know, me too.
“For all of our adult lives, our radar had been locked on one goal; to ensure our own safety and security. We were hardwired to focus on solving our own problems and applauded by the church when we constructed a life that pointed directly at the American Dream, with a side of Jesus.”
“…it’s hard to pine for heaven when you already believe you’re there”
Shannan uses her experiences to open readers hearts to living with less, and being happy about it. God put us here to love our neighbor as ourselves. What better way to do that, than by stripping life down and getting into the nitty-gritty with our neighbors? Even if those neighbors live in what we would consider a sketchy neighborhood. Falling Free forces us to examine if we are really loving others the way Jesus did in his time on Earth. He ate with sinners, he touched and healed the lepers, he loved the woman at the well. While we know the stories and know Christ loved others, do we truly love the same way, or even try to? I know I’m guilty of judging others based on their lifestyles or even their clothes as if I am somehow better than they are. What would happen if instead of seeing their sometimes rough exterior, we simply loved and welcomed them to a meal in our homes? Readers are challenged to be generous, to love deeply, to give up our ideas about what life should be and instead allow God to show us where he needs us. And to teach our children to do the same.
This isn’t a book of theology, but a book to encourage people to love everyone in Jesus’ name. Not just those in our neck of the middle-class suburb. Not only those who are exactly like us. No one deserves Christ’s love more than the other. So let’s put our Christian caste systems away, and pour out the love.
“The Jesus I’m getting to know capsized conventional wisdom and lavished the poor with love. He tells me not to worry about the shirts in my closet or the cereal in my pantry. He invented the cotton and oats. He owns the patents.
My Jesus blesses the poor and spits out what the world values.”
Falling Free opens the heart, applies the Bible to now, and wrecks everything we think we know about being “a good Christian”. Once we have let this book into our hearts and minds, there is no going back to the ignorance we once enjoyed. Be prepared for cold hard conviction.
“Here’s a list of things John [the Baptist] did not tell them to do: memorize more Scripture, pray on your knees in the morning instead of in bed and half-asleep, get up in time to make it to Sunday school, wear shorts that cover your knees, only watch PG-rated movies, quit smoking, and, for the love, keep your hair off your collar.Here’s what he did say: ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry. Don’t take more than you need.’ Be content.”