I have written quite a few words since turning the final page of Falling Free; none of them particularly about the book, but all of them shaped by it. Falling Free met me mid-free fall, an upward draft in sync with my life’s ostensible downward spiral.
This book will did not leave me feeling wiser, fuller, happier, or clearer. Rather, it is as if her words give me permission to to accept and act on deep truth suppressed inside me; a truth that existed before I even knew of Shannan.
Perhaps that was why each chapter left me feeling stabbed to the core. But I would liken the piercing to acupuncture rather than brutality; tiny needles probing in and stimulating healing from within, each page touching a different part of my spirit.
Every person should read this book.
I first found Shannan’s blog, then called Flower Patch Farmgirl, in 2014 on the recommendation of my friend Debbie. I was fresh out of engineering school and far removed from the realm of words. Shannan’s voice spoke to me immediately, as I found myself laughing out loud and driven to tears in the span of 500 words. I began to learn her story through her blog.
I was hooked by her talk, and captivated by her walk.
I, a numbers girl to the core, was astonished at the familiarity that came through words, having never met her but feeling as if I had always known her. It was the beginning of an awakening inside of me to the power of story that would eventually inspire me to lower my floodgates and allow my own words to trickle out, a calculated free fall.
Falling Free arrived on my doorstep, just as the solid ground that had been my health was giving out beneath me. I started page 1 a week after the symptoms of this illness appeared. Knowing Shannan’s voice, and sort of knowing her story, I thought it was going to be a quick read, difficult to put down.
But day after day the green book remained atop the towering stack on my nightstand; I could only digest a few pages at a time. The book was soon accompanied by a pen, and I wrote or marked on nearly every page. Each page number seemed a new needle, probing into my heart, alternately releasing toxin and antidote.
My greatest realization was that I was chasing freedom with shackles. I wanted my freedom secure, sure, and completely coherent so I locked it up in bank accounts, a diamond ring, and behind a deadbolt lock in suburbia.
When I wrote the Chase series back in February, I listed 5 things I chase over Jesus: Romance, Recognition, Riches, Perfection, Tomorrow. I realize now these all can be summed into one: Freedom. Nearly every action in my life is aligned to this pursuit.
When Jimmy and I first started dating, we saw our propensity to be a “power couple” and dreamed together of being “DINKs” (dual income no kids), able to buy whatever we desired, and bringing children (biological assumed) into a stable, comfortable home. We had found true love in each other, and it seemed money could buy everything else.
There came to be a co-inherent dream, a dream of freedom to spend every minute together and build an independent life, every day free to do as we pleased. And for me, this independent life most definitely included a farm in God’s country and an apron.
“I’m supposed to be a farm girl.” – Falling Free, first sentence (yes I was in tears at page 1)
After becoming disciples of Jesus, that pursuit shifted only embarrassingly slightly: from plain old ugly wealth to eloquently-worded “financial freedom.” We saw it sort of as our spiritual duty: to become successful enough to “free up” our resources (time and money) to give back to the kingdom.
It was close enough to the truth to pass in my heart, but far enough to allow room for the Spirit’s convictions.
This book and my own free fall together shattered the almost-truth. I was staring at potential months of inability to work, with no promise for financial compensation. Over the weeks as I read this book, I watched our perfectly-planned and paid-for honeymoon to Kauai slip away, my health deteriorate further, and our future become completely Gray. Enter Shannan’s words:
“Jesus calls us to live, move, and love in reverse. It’s never the way we we thought it would be. It’s not what we would have scripted if the pen were in our hands.
That’s what kingdom living is. It’s about holding loosely.” – Falling Free, page 67 (emphasis mine)
This book unraveled my tightly-wound doctrine and shattered my comfortable, middle-class bubble.
The best part is, Shannan doesn’t tell you what to believe: she simply shines provocative light through the lens of her own story. Much of this book left me squirming in my chair, because her assessment of her own heart is so revealing of mine. And while she does address her reaction to the conviction, her humor and humility remind us that we are all still falling, rather than floating to lofty, unattainable perfection.
While our stories are slightly different (not to mention mine being a decade and a half behind), I don’t think I have ever said “mhmm” more to a book. The reality-check she encourages is natural, because the reality she shares is so real.
Shannan’s book is an eloquent dance of story and Scripture and lesson. Finally, I will share where this book left me:
I remain in free fall. There is nothing left to cling to: not health, money, doctrine, ability, or wisdom. My eyes are closed as the wind whips past my face. I hope I don’t collide with anything at this great speed, but I have no control. I hear a whisper next to me, almost part of the wind…”Open your eyes, beloved.” And there is Jesus, He grasps firmly onto my hands and we are free falling together, more slowly, more controlled, a skydiving formation of two. I do not know how much longer we will be falling, but I don’t care because my eyes are fixed on His face rather than the ground, and I trust completely that He will lead me to safety.
…and as we fall, He points out some adjustments I need to make to fall more in sync with Him.
Ready for a free fall experience of your own, minus the immediate danger and vertigo? Buy Shannan’s book at the link below! (and probably buy 2 because you will want to share this with someone, or everyone):