Jo Saxton’s newest book ‘The Dream of You’ is released this week and I was very thankful to be given an advanced copy to read and reflect on. A big fan of Jo’s last book ‘Influential’, one of the first books I read many years ago that spoke to many of the struggles women come up against in ministry, I was excited to see what wisdom she had to share this time around. Staying with one of her key passions, Jo addresses women directly, and personally through a series of letters that open each chapter to women, as she systematically addresses different struggles women face in life and ministry.
As I read the early chapters it brought back memories of the struggles I have faced over the years, the battle to find my voice again, to let go of the need for approval and achievement, and just be. I remembered the labels and boxes I had been placed into that caused me to withdraw and shy away from my living out the fullness of who God had created me to be, fearing I would be ‘too much’ or ‘too strong’ or ‘too masculine’ or other phrases I have been called along the way.
I remember thinking about a third of the way through that I’m past all of this now, maybe this book would be better for someone in the twenties, maybe it wasn’t really for me… until I hit the later chapters.
As Jo spoke about her ‘wilderness experiences’ I felt my soul churn. I had just been there, in the wildness and through the valley. Her words spoke such truth and brought tears as I almost rejoiced in the feeling that I wasn’t alone in these struggles. Her practical suggestions and biblical examples were a great reminder of the necessity of the wilderness for growth. As she spoke of the need to band together and not try to live life alone I felt God’s conviction that this is something I needed to intentionally develop in the coming year. A small community around me that know me deeply and will speak encouragement to me, because I allow them close enough to know where I lack courage.
‘The Dream of You’ address so much of the brokenness many of us have experienced and encourages us, through biblical examples, stories and practices to let go of our ‘broken identities’, and live out of our God-given identity. Jo writes with a Pastor’s heart, and is encouraging and inspiring, rather than condemning as she opens these topics. At times it feels verging on the ‘American feel-good style’ that Australian’s have come to love and mock simultaneously, but get over it, the content is worthy of reading and reflecting on!
As Jo says “The God who sees you is worth knowing. He has the power to redeem your voice and give you a new song.” Not only does God have the power to do that, but Jo Saxton gives you the tools to use to begin and journey that process with Him. It is well worth a read, if not for you, for those you lead and seek to encourage to live into their God-given identities. One of the key encouragements for me from reading Dream of You is below, I leave it for you to ponder:
“I am not who anyone but God says I am. I am not even who I say I am, or more often, who I fear I might be. I am God’s and only God can identify me truly.”
Jo Saxton, ‘The Dream of You’
Bree Mills is currently the Associate Pastor at Glen Waverley Anglican Church. She is a Ridley Graduate who has been worked in youth ministry for 12 years at various churches, until moving into her current role in 2013, overseeing missional discipleship at GWAC. She is undertaking Postgraduate study at Morling College in the area of Missional Leadership, with a focus on congregational change, and is involved with various missional movements around Australia. She has worked with both large and small churches to reinvigorate youth ministries, and launch missional communities. She is passionate about equipping the church to engage with the local community, encouraging women in leadership, and building healthy and sustainable teams.