Honesty, authenticity and vulnerability. You want to be a person who reflects these qualities. But sometimes it's just hard to reveal your deepest hardships and struggles. How are Christians supposed to have hope and experience wholeness amid personal challenges and failures?
The women and men of Soul Bare not only intimately understand the risks of exposure, but they are also willing to share their most poignant and painful moments with you. Soul Bare features contributions from the best of today's influential young writers, including
Soak in these powerful reflections, and you will find your own soul soothed. If you need to experience beauty in the brokenness of real life laid bare, this book is for you.
"Wading through the waters of Soul Bare, I felt I'd been entrusted with something precious. These pages are filled with the all-too-true and all-too-resonant stories of real people who have loved, lost, sinned, survived, hoped, and healed. The fact that these contributors happen to be gifted writers only makes the reading that much better. They are in essence 'going first,' bringing their scars into broad daylight so the rest of us will follow—and Lord knows we need to. It's way too easy to hide behind small talk and Christian cliche. You can get away with it for quite a long time, but real life begins in real relationship. And relationships are born of vulnerability. We've got to learn to drop our masks and be human together. I'm grateful beyond words to the brave women and men who shared their humanity and God's goodness on the pages of this book. It's an absolute gift."
"These stories are brave, honest, and lyrical: a mosaic of shadows and light. As I turned these pages, I felt like I was being invited to glimpse a sacred cross section of the human experience. Suffering. Celebration. Despair. Hope. Sin. Forgiveness. And through it all an unmistakable thread of relentless redemption."
"If you harbor any doubts that God is present in the broken places, let this prayerful chorus of voices dispel them. Soul Bare is a psalm to what is hard and holy, a glorious song of praise to a God who reaches into darkness and blesses even our deepest wounds."
"So often Christian books offer us a well-intended formula for healing—one we've heard so often, we've got it down pat. But what happens when the formula fails in real life? What happens when the right ingredients or the proper measures still leave us empty in despair instead of full with promise and hope? Soul Bare won't offer you a formula. You won't turn the final pages armed with a ready-made antidote for brokenness or a cure-all salve for sin. What you will find is raw realness: uncensored stories by real people wrestling with the grit of real life. Lean in deep to Soul Bare. Your wounds have a place here. Your heart will find a home between these pages. You will see your real self in these stories. And you will glimpse our real God."
"What does it mean to be 'authentic'? We give the word a lot of reverence, but actually stepping out in authenticity remains a frightening prospect for many of us. There are those parts of our lives that we would rather not acknowledge, that we would rather forget, that we assume would isolate us if they were found out. Soul Bare is proof that authenticity never isolates, but always invites new growth and community. Any reader is bound to find him or herself in these pages somewhere."
"I held my breath, I cried, I shuddered, I whispered prayers, I ached. Most of all, I fell more deeply in love with Jesus through these words and stories. I can't help but think how wide and deep and long this love is that finds us all so broken and yet so beautiful."
"If you read this book with an open heart, you will find yourself in its pages too. As you read, reflect, and then find the courage to share your own soul bare story, may you remember that authenticity is about more than spilling your secrets or wounds on the ground for people to gawk at. Sexton reminds us that the best authenticity is 'about the raw and real baring of our souls for a holy, redemptive purpose.' May you read and share stories of brokenness in the pursuit of redemption."
Part I: Letting Go
More for You Than This—Shannan Martin
Dark Clouds and Abundant Grace—Trillia J. Newbell
Cold, Dark Ground—Jennifer J. Camp
Towers and Canyons—Serena Woods
The Root—Angie Hong
The Waging and the Waiting—Tammy Perlmutter
The Yearbook—Linda Hahn
Of Old Mirrors and New Doors—Kelli Woodford
Part II: Leaning In
Liquid Courage—Amy Smith
Joy to the World! Really? Where?—Deana Chadwell
Pain and Holy Ground—Christina Gibson
When I Pursued Joy—Monica Sharman
Wrestling with God in the Art House Theater—Karissa Knox Sorrell
A Broken Love Story—Lindsey van Niekerk
Breathing Room—Tanya Marlow
Part III: Hope and Healing
Tie to the Deep—Tara Pohlkotte
Teenage Heretic—Amy Lepine Peterson
Letters of Intention—Sarah Bessey
Striptease—Sheila Seiler Lagrand
Without People Like You—Sarah Markley
The Choreography of God—Holly Grantham
Redemption Looks Beautiful on You—Shelly Miller
You?re Not Alone—Holley Gerth
Gravity—Emily P. Freeman
Breathing Fresh Air—Mandy Steward
Look at Me, Daddy!—Dan King
The Cup—Jennifer Dukes Lee
Lost and Found—Cara Sexton
Meet the Authors