A few years ago, a friend texted me the instagram handle of Shannan Martin and said, “I think you’d like her, she seems like your kinda people.” At first I was confused, because this lady lived in Indiana and I had zero hopes of getting to know her in real life. But due to my friend’s recommendation, I started following her anyways and it wasn’t long before I fully understood what my friend meant. Her social media was full of grace and glimpses into a world that I would love to be a part of.
Shannan just released her first book, Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted and it was better than I could have hoped for. Martin’s memoir captures her journey from having a picture perfect life to an even better one, but it’s not what you’d expect. As her title gives away, her journey is one from affluence to living a much smaller life. Falling Free is a memoir about how letting go of the perfect Christian life freed Shannan to live the life Christ had called her to.
This book feels like a cross between Radical by David Platt and Seven by Jen Hatmaker, yet it is all together different in its own right. Martin shares vulnerable story after story, about how God stripped away a life that she built in order to give her a new one. In Falling Free you’ll hear stories of infertility, adoption, loss, hard relationships, beauty, meals spent with people with addictions, jail records, and sending kids to that school with the bad reviews. It’s funny, relatable, but mostly convicting.
In an age where the American dream is mixed together with Christian moralism, this book chips away at our tendency for more and pushes for less. So much of my hard-wiring as a southerner who values hospitality was challenged. Shannan’s realistic perspective about home, life, and community really convicted me to care less about what was served around the table and to care more about who should have a seat at the table. She did a fantastic job at not writing a “how-to” book, but rather shared her life experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, to inspire readers to pursue Jesus and his love for the marginalized.
I’ll be honest, I was a bit worried that her book would seem preachy. I was afraid that she would come off too “judgy” and alienate those who can’t do exactly what she has done. But man was I wrong. She unashamedly shares her convictions, but does so with kindness and a deep understanding of her reader. Her tough love was drenched in grace for those of us who needed an extra push but are too prideful to recognize it. And as I finished the last chapter and closed the book, I was no longer afraid of Martin’s preaching; rather I was mostly afraid of walking away from this book unchanged.
Here are a few quotes from the book that hit home for me:
“It’s hard to pine for heaven when you already believe you’re there.”
“We so often say we believe that there is no safer place than the center of God’s will, but we refuse to believe he would ever lead us to places of brokenness or danger.”
“Christ chucked his status in order to walk with the forsaken and I can’t be bothered to invite them over for a cookout.”
I could go on and on, but the truth is… you need this book. I need this book. The church needs this book. My only regret is that I haven’t lived a life that would qualify me able to write it.
So do yourself a favor, meet Shannan Martin and order Falling Free, but only if you’re ready to start praying for your world to be turned upside down for the sake of the Kingdom.
Brittany is a wife, mother, and advocate for adoption. A graduate from Cedarville University, she received her MA in Intercultural Studies from SEBTS in 2011 and her MA in Teaching from NC State in 2012. She writes on faith and family over at www.thesassysalmon.com and when she’s not writing, she enjoys running, eating cheesefries, and spending time with family and friends.