I’ve written before about my appreciation of heartfelt, brutally honest books about living a life well when it’s something that was never expected. When I saw Falling Free, and reading that it was in a similar vein, I picked it up.
And then I set it aside. Because, I’m a coward. Because I am living a life I didn’t expect, and I certainly didn’t plan for.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d do it all again, and I’d gripe less this time around. Over and over, I choose this.
But it’s not easy (especially the not griping part).
When I finally picked up Falling Free and started reading, I couldn’t put it down. Shannan Martin’s honesty is both refreshing and frightening. She and her husband “had it all,” and then thought, “Maybe we aren’t supposed to. Maybe we’re called to something else. Something more… and certainly something less than we thought we’d wanted or needed.”
Just so you know, that’s not a quote from the book – it’s a quote from my brain.
The Martin family’s story is all their own. They had it all, until it all started to go away. A job lost, then another. Time to think about where they were being drawn, and it was away from their amazing country home and into the inner city. It was away from an ordered life, and towards a life filled with hurting, needy, difficult children… children who needed love, and homes, and parents who loved like Jesus – like Jesus really did. Not like our modern, comfy Jesus, but like the Jesus who wasn’t afraid to talk to prostitutes and Samaritans and tax collectors. The Jesus who didn’t turn away from the unclean, but rather, turned towards them.
A book like this could so easily have been self-serving, self-promoting in an overtly check-out-how-humble-I-am kind of way. But, it’s not. Shannan lets us know her shortcomings, her foibles. The time she loses it with her son because he used a bottle of expensive olive oil made me laugh – partly because of her reflection on the incident, but also because I’ve bought an expensive bottle of olive oil, thinking it’s something special, when what it is is food. Food for my family. Food her son used to prepare a meal not “worthy” of its specialness, but let’s face it: It fed her family a meal, and it fed her son the experience of serving, and it fed her the chance to reflect for us.
I love this book for its bravery that feels like foolishness, but it brave anyway. For stepping forward in faith when your family and friends are questioning your judgment. For listening to who we are meant to be, when it’s explained by the One whose we are meant to be.
I’ve joked in other posts about my childhood angst over watching Scooby and Shaggy head into adventures without the tempering influence of Velma. I can see how the Martins departure from their perfect home and journey into the city might have appeared the same to their friends, but I didn’t have the same feeling at all as I read. Shannan’s gift for sharing the experience, the learning, and the treasure of her blended, amazing, non-planned for, non-imagine family shows us the true meaning of being the hands and feet of Jesus.
I love this book. I love it when a book can be hard, and sad, and scary, can make me cringe at points… and leaves me feeling so good.