Sober Mercies [Book Reflection & Giveaway]

“Instead of being a source of hope, my Christian background only increased my sense of hopelessness. On the one hand, I knew I was a phony, a hypocrite, and a liar. But on the other hand, I was convinced I’d experienced a genuine conversion to Christ in my teens. Where do you turn for hope when you already have the answer, but it isn’t working?” ~ Heather Kopp, Sober Mercies

Sober-Mercies-Heather KoppIt took me nearly three years to get help for my Depression.

Three years between the first days of muted gray in China and that sharp, rock-bottom place where I found myself doing things I never thought I’d do, just to anesthetize dull ache of it. Just to feel something besides the darkness.

I didn’t really understand Depression then. I thought it was only for people who had been through something Very Bad.

I thought that what I was experiencing was some sort of spiritual shortcoming on my end – so I pressed in harder. Got up earlier. Read my Bible for longer. Wrote hundreds of pages in my prayer journal.

I listened to sermons and read books and then, when I still could not seem to dig my way out, I started blaming All the Christians. I blamed famous ones who acted as if they knew all the answers; I blamed the ones in my life for not being able to help me. For not even trying. For not being able to see it.

And the refrain playing over and over again my head during those days was this Sunday-School idea that Jesus is The Answer. That no matter what the question is, it is always Him. That He is ENOUGH. That He is always supposed to be enough.

When I read the quote above in Heather Kopp’s Sober Mercies a couple of weeks ago, I got a little weepy, because although our stories and struggles are different, it was exactly the same way for me too.

I had The Answer. It wasn’t working. And so in addition to the Depression, I felt this wide, fearful hopelessness. If I needed other help, what did it say about my faith? And what did it say about Jesus?

*

Sober Mercies is the story of how a good, Christian woman became a drunk. And it’s about how she found healing.

It is a beautiful memoir, riveting and self-aware, and what I love most about it is how Heather Kopp tells her story without a single hint of self-pity or cliché. She just tells it. She gives it like a gift.

I related to Heather’s story in so many unexpected ways. I never went so far as keeping mini bottles of booze in my purse and downing them in restaurant bathrooms – but during that last year, when the Depression was so bad, I tried to drink myself out of it.

I drank myself sick, and I know the exhausting loneliness of throwing up in the bathrooms of unfamiliar bars. I know about lying to your husband about how many you’ve had. I know about that first swift pull up out of the darkness that the wine gives you…and I know about the crashing headache and the crashing down.

After I got help, I was able to restore balance to this area of my life, but I have a more complicated relationship with alcohol now. When I have a few too many, I become wary of myself and of the wine, because I’ve been to that place where it has become a kind of anesthesia. I don’t want to go there again.

But what I mostly related to in this book was Heather’s spiritual struggle. Like her, I grew up believing that if I knew and followed Jesus, things would be just fine…and when they turned out to not be fine at all, it almost ruined my faith.

For those of us who found Jesus early and grew up learning all the right answers, the spiritual journey can be surprisingly tricky. It includes a certain amount of unlearning, unknowing. Of letting go of the God we think we know to figure out that he is so much bigger than we ever dreamed.

And I think this is the real journey happening in this book. Yes, it’s about sobriety. But mostly, for me, it felt like an exploration of this struggle. The one in the quote above: Where do you turn for hope when you already have the answer, but it isn’t working?

And if you’ve ever felt the weight of that question – if you’ve ever needed a God who is bigger than all of the answers you know – then this book is for you.

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Jericho Books has graciously offered to give away a copy to a lucky winner here. Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. (Any comment – brilliant, non-brilliant – doesn’t matter. There is no comment judgment here, only love!).

I’ll pick the winner this Friday morning, June 7th, but if you can’t wait until then, I assure you, it’s well worth the money. You can order from any of the following retailers: AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-MillionIndieBound or ChristianBook.com

86 thoughts on “Sober Mercies [Book Reflection & Giveaway]

  1. I love your blog, Addie. Reading it makes me feel understood, if only by a stranger on the internet.

    Sincerely,

    One Who Used to Have All The Right Answers

  2. Oh, definitely a book I need to read! I’ve thought so many similar things to the idea that “I *have* the answer…it’s just not working…” I think if I happen to not win the free copy, I shall def have to buy this one!

  3. Sounds like an interesting read! And I appreciate your candor whilst discussing it. Thank you!

  4. Where do you turn for hope… I feel the weight of that question right now and I want to find the God who is bigger than all the answers!

  5. “For those of us who found Jesus early and grew up learning all the right answers, the spiritual journey can be surprisingly tricky. It includes a certain amount of unlearning, unknowing. Of letting go of the God we think we know to figure out that he is so much bigger than we ever dreamed.”

    ^ ding, ding, ding! This rang *so* true…oh, man. I am far enough along to realize the unlearning has to be done, but still walking that lonely road as I find a lot of Christians either haven’t come to this point yet, or don’t want to examine if they have, so you end up feeling exquisitely alone at times. ButI am trying to trust the process..

    1. “exquisitely alone at times” — yes, Wendee. This is my experience too. Thank you.

  6. Like Wendee above that section rang true for me as well. I have had to unlearn many things I was taught about God growing up in the church. I have learned that a second-hand Jesus was not my savior.

    1. “I have learned that a second-hand Jesus was not my savior.” — love that Amy. Thank you.

  7. “For those of us who found Jesus early and grew up learning all the right answers, the spiritual journey can be surprisingly tricky. It includes a certain amount of unlearning, unknowing.”

    I’ve learned this over and over during the last decade, and it’s always a gift to hear someone else say “Me, too.”

  8. It feels like a lonely road – this unknowing and letting go of the God that we cut our teeth on. Glad to know there’s others in this journey of relearning who God is in our life, especially in those of us who know the distorting effect depression has on the Light.

    1. “the distorting effect depression has on the Light.” — love how you put that. Thanks Sara.

  9. “For those of us who found Jesus early and grew up learning all the right answers, the spiritual journey can be surprisingly tricky. It includes a certain amount of unlearning, unknowing.”

    I love your blog and statements like these are encouraging to me in this journey that I’m on with God right now.

  10. pick me pick me!

    also love your blog! i feel like you write about all the same things i wrestled with in my post youth group years!

    you should check out Steve Brown’s “A Scandalous Freedom” book- reminds me of some of your posts.

    1. Thanks for the kind words and the suggestion, Ashleigh. I’ll definitely add it to the list!

  11. I usually feel awkward talking about my time spent in groups learning and working thru the 12 steps (and therefore don’t mention it much). I haven’t dealt with addiction, at least of the alcohol/drug variety, but so much of what is worked through in the 12 steps can be applied to so much in life. That can be hard to explain, though.

    All to say, I’d love to win this book!!

    1. Love that. I don’t know all that much about the 12 steps personally but from what I’ve read they seem like a beautiful and true resource.

  12. Sounds like a book my daughter might read. While I grew up in an abusive and overtly dysfunctional family, my husband grew up in a “religious” home. We tried very hard to raise our daughter(s) differently…somewhere in the middle. One daughter has walked away from God completely. It breaks my heart. Makes me think of all the ways I DIDN’T represent God well. Maybe I will get this book so I might understand her better.

    1. I just think we all fail to represent God well in so many ways, and in the end, he works anyway. In spite of us. In love for us. In perfect grace and beauty. I hope that your daughter finds her way back eventually. Seems like there are a lot of us who have to let go of the whole damn thing to figure out how much we actually need it. You are not alone Caryn, and neither is she.

  13. Addie,

    I love most everything you write, and nod along going “Uh huh, been there, felt that…” I so appreciate the hopefulness with which you approach the answers that don’t work anymore. I think the most profound thing I’ve learned about God in the last few years is that he is big; which sounds simplistic, but it is the thing I have most needed to know. I’ll have to add this book to my reading list. Thanks for the review!

    1. Thanks so much Sarah. And I’m the same — relearning those simple truths has been one of the most profound truths of my life these last few years.

  14. kind of scared to read it – but think I really need to! will need to be brave to admit that maybe, sometimes Jesus doesn’t feel enough xx

  15. Oh it is so, so comforting to read all the responses that say, yeah, me too, at least someone understands when we read that quote:Where do you turn for hope when you already have the answer, but it isn’t working?
    All of you, Addie, you, with your honesty and your readers with their openness, oh you all give me hope. I am thankful today for all of you, and for Heather Kopp.

  16. Addie, your space is the third place I’ve visited in the past couple weeks in which this book is featured! I am loving what Jericho Books is putting out. Can’t wait to read Heather’s book. Thanks for hosting a giveaway!

  17. I have twice read Job with my 2 youngest. In addition, I have read a few of Corrie Ten Boom’s books with them. I am hoping that they will not expect too much out of this life and thereby avoid some of the pitfalls so that have seemingly waylaid so many!

  18. I’ve read several reviews of this book already, but this is the one that makes me want to read it! Thanks for making it about the bigger picture.

  19. Addiction is a thorn not easily plucked. My struggle has been with food but I relate to alcohol as well as most of my dysfunctional family is/was alcoholics. I’d like to read this to see where/how she finds the answer to the suffering. Will also check out her blog.

  20. Addie,
    You could write about Cherrios and I would love to read it! But I appreciate you putting yourself out there and writing about the hard stuff. I look forward to reading your blog and I miss you terribly!
    I hope to find some time to read a few of these books you recommend one day soon! 🙂

  21. Wow, thanks for writing this- I totally relate. I’ve been having health issues (including depression) throughout the past year and it’s taught me I can’t trust God- I can’t trust him to not let this stuff happen and derail all my life plans.

    And I’m questioning all those easy Sunday School answers, and my faith is changing… trying to work out a new idea for what “trusting God” is supposed to mean.

    1. I know exactly. I’ve so been there. Give yourself some time to work through these big questions. It’s big stuff, and it matters.

  22. Been there too! Would love this book to read and share with a friend who still attends meetings, after years of being a Christ follower. Please pick me! I really can’t afford to buy it.

  23. Awesome. I need to read this book. But I’m miles behind on reading, so don’t waste the giveaway on me. I’m pretty much committed to Kindle books at this point, anyway. Easier to read in the dark.

  24. [Please do not enter me into the drawing, but thank you.]

    I found this blog about a week ago, searching for random terms related to “evangelcial.”

    For me, it was salvation that never seemed to work. I had the answer; I had supposedly said my prayer when I was six. But I could never be comfortable in being “saved,” even as a child. That brought on my own struggle with depression, and my cynicism of Evangelicalism’s easy certainty and comfortable assurance.

    Thanks for the blog, and for highlighting the quote in this post. I relate to it very strongly.

    1. Thanks Paul. I get that too. (How many of us evangelical kids prayed “the prayer” like 700 times, trying to make sure it stuck?) Thanks for reading and for your honesty here.

  25. I know I’m way too late for this giveaway, but I wanted to make my first comment on your blog, which I’ve been reading for a couple months. You’ve made a wonderful place here – I always feel understood and encouraged and brain-stretched when I come here. My story is somewhat similar – and I loved your lines above about growing up in the church can make you need to unlearn, later on, and find a God who is bigger than previously imagined. In the last couple years, I’ve had to unlearn a lot and I’m really trying to build a relationship with God as He really is, and as I really am. It’s not easy. I feel wary. I want it to be faster. Most of all, I want Him to be bigger than I previously imagined. Thanks for your encouragement along the way.

    1. Thanks so much for this kind, brave comment Felicity. I’m so glad that your here and that it’s helping you feel less alone. I think it’s such a lonely place — unlearning the old things and trying to find a bigger God. Hard, slow work…but worth it.

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