When We Were On Fire: A Synchroblog

dane and liam with wwwof

Today is a Tuesday. The garbage truck will come rumbling down the street as it does every Tuesday. I’ll pack lunch for Dane and drive him to preschool, the radio on, his Cars backpack on the floor.

When we get to class, Dane will go find his name tag and put it on the board while Liam plays with the drinking fountain. He’ll come running back to give me “the biggest hug EVER” before I gather up his brother and go home.

In the car, Liam will ask me six times, “Where Dane, Mom?” It’s been a month, and we’re still not altogether used to the way the school-day breaks into our routine and steals him away from us five hours at a pop.

The weather website says 100% chance of rain — pretty normal for a Minnesota Tuesday in October — so I’ll snuggle next to Liam under a blanket and we’ll watch his latest cinematic obsession — The Incredibles.

It’s Tuesday, October 15th. I’ve known about this day for months…but I’m still not altogether used to it.

I’m not sure I’m ready for my first memoir to go winging into the world.

But release day is here. So, ready or not, it’s time to let go.

Go Against the Flow t-shirt Addie

Once upon a time I was on fire for God, and I wore that T-shirt. (What you’re looking at here is a DIY photo session. My junior high BFF Alissa and I had big plans to send these glossies to Models for Christ, where we’d use our beauty FOR THE LORD.)

I was on fire, so I wore sumo-wrestling suits at outreach events and ate a giant banana split out of a re-purposed rain gutter with my youth group in the Fellowship hall.

I rode the train downtown to see Jennifer Knapp at Moody Bookstore and sang her songs — from memory — all the way there. I owned a book called Keeping Your Cool While Sharing Your Faith and a well worn copy of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which my boyfriend gave to me before he departed for a year-long missions internship.

I sang in the worship band every Sunday morning, praying under my breath that people would enter into the spirit of worship, instead of standing shifty-eyed and bored. In spite of my voice lessons with a lady from church, I was never much of a singer and secretly suspected that they were turning my mic down every week.

I learned how to wrap the microphone cords so that they wouldn’t tangle, and I stayed after church, cleaning up when everyone else went home. I wrapped, wrapped, wrapped myself in God’s love…and also in the evangelical culture…and eventually, the two were indistinguishable from one another. After a while I couldn’t tell the difference between that still, small voice of Truth and the sleek words of Christian marketing. And the mixture of these two elements in my heart became a kind of toxic chemical.

I wrote When We Were On Fire because somewhere in the growing up, the flame flickered out, and I thought it was because I had failed somehow. I struck myself like a flint against church after church, trying to ignite some kind of spark. Instead I ended up angry, hurt, bitter, broken.

I felt so desperately lonely during that time. Looking back now, I see that I wasn’t alone. So many of you were traveling a similar path, stumbling under the same baggage, trying to work it all out on your own.

when we were on fire synchroblog

A couple of weeks ago, I invited you to share your on fire stories today in my first ever “synchroblog.”

I hoped it would be a celebration both of the release this book…and also of the complex, hard, beautiful journey of faith.

But I also hope that seeing others’ stories pop up here makes you feel a little less alone. A little less crazy and a bit more understood.

If this is the first time you’re hearing about it, it’s not too late! The synchroblog linkup will be open until 12:00 AM on Saturday the 19th. On Sunday (the 20th), I’ll be posting some of my favorite quotes from your stories here on the blog.

Here’s How to Participate:

  1. Write your “When We Were On Fire” story on your blog. (If you don’t have a blog, there’s still a bit of time to get your words added to my When We Were On Fire: The Non-Blogger Edition post on Thursday. Just send me your story today or tomorrow in an email!)
  2. If you’re a blogger, make sure you include the image above and link in your post so that others can click back and see the roundup! (Link the image to this blog post: http://addiezierman.com/?p=2586)
  3. Come back here use the link-up tool to add your post here. Make sure you link to the actual post, not your blog’s home page.
  4. Click around to other people’s posts. If you have a few minutes, consider commenting on a couple that you specifically relate to. (Us blogging people love that sort of thing.)
  5. If you want to share your post on Twitter, use the hashtag #WWWoF so that we can all keep track of what’s happening. (This is the hashtag for the book, by the way. I just invented it. You can use it for all of your nice comments about my memoir…but none of your mean ones. I’m not strong enough.)

Thank you so much for helping me to celebrate this ordinary (and also…anything but ordinary) Tuesday.

I can’t wait to read your words.

Note: Curious about the book but not sure if it’s for you? You can read the first couple of chapters free here. I’ve also published a short excerpt from the middle of the book over at the Deeper Story site today.

Already pretty sure you’ll love it? GREAT! Order it now here or here or here or here!

64 thoughts on “When We Were On Fire: A Synchroblog

  1. Addie, I’m dying that we have something else in common. Voice lessons and the worship team. So happy for you, your book is born! I’m excited to see what God will do (and I’m eager to see more of the story as it unfolds, beautifully).
    One of these days, I’d love to be able to say that in person 🙂

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  3. I had that shirt! And I’m so excited about the book. Please call my postal worker and tell him to drop everything else, find my copy and get it to me stat.

      1. It did. FInally! One week late. (My working theory is that my mailman kept it and read it…) Read it in 2 days and it sparked a great conversation with my husband who did not grow up in the On Fire culture at all. Thanks!

  4. I had that shirt, too!

    I cannot WAIT for this book to get here! Ordering it right this very second! Linked up my post, and I just can’t quit you or your words or the real Jesus you whisper about. <3

  5. Amazon says my (YOUR) book shipped yesterday!! Very excited for you, for me, for all your readers/blog followers.

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  7. Just have to say – I had that T-shirt, too! LOL. I read the first couple of chapters and ordered your book immediately. I also grew up steeped in the evangelical “on fire” culture of the 90s. I can’t wait to read your book, and a big congrats to you!!!

  8. I can hardly bear my excitement for you! The day is here at long last. Totally doing a Living Room Dance Party in your honor and wishing we could celebrate together.

    Also, I love that you have a picture of yourself in that shirt. Winning.

    1. A MODELING PICTURE at that. It would only be better if we’d had the standing fan off for the picture. (We were using it to make our hair blow and create drama in the photos.) (Also I will call you soon.) (My life is a mess of All. The. Things.)

  9. this is one of the only books i’ve ever preordered! when i woke up this morning i clicked on the wireless on my kindle and there it was! the words are so fresh and familiar and will be a source of comfort as i’m finding my way in a foreign country with practically zero evangelical culture and therefore few who will understand my past.

    1. Thank you so much for pre-ordering the book. It means a lot to me, and I hope that it resonates with you in some way. Thanks for these kind words Dina.

  10. Addie, I just want to say that I love, love, love your writing. And I also love your grace and vulnerability. Plus, when I saw that photo I felt compelled to admit that I had that t-shirt too. 😉

  11. I just bought your book today, for my e-reader! I can’t wait to read it. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling as you’ve sent this piece of your heart out into the world, where people will like it or not, talk about it or not, etc. But, I’m thankful you were brave and wrote it!

  12. By the way, I worked in a Christian book store in the 90s, and I SOLD that t-shirt! 🙂 Along with a lot of other plastic Jesus stuff, including what we lovingly referred to as the Jesus Jell-O mold!

      1. Because we all need one, right? Seriously, it was a white, ceramic thing with an inverted face of Jesus in it. I don’t think you can be involved in Christian Bookstore/Gift Shop merchandising for long without growing cynical. It was a long time after I left before I could appreciate Isaiah 40:31 because I’d seen it slapped on every single picture of an eagle in North America. (A shame, since that chapter is so gorgeous!) I like to say I’m a recovering Christian Bookstore employee!

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  14. Congrats on your new book. There are so many people out there who have been damaged by Teen Mania and groups like them. We’ve been sharing our stories for the past few years over at http://www.recoveringalumni.com. You might find them interesting.

    1. I actually found you guys a while ago when I was writing my Teen Mania chapters in the book. I’m glad that you’re providing a way to for people to process those experiences. It’s such important work — finding a way to heal from those ministry wounds. They run so deep.

  15. Addie, I am finished the book and am still processing… My BFF from high school is reading it as well so we can laugh and cry about our Evangelicalism. I am from the 80s evangelical culture and fortunately there was not as much packaging. Was I out of balance? Yes…I was “on fire” and it did eventually lead to burn out. It took a lot of processing in my college/young adult years, working on what it means to follow Jesus. Today I am married to the “missionary boy” but with a twist–He is from the Latin American country we serve in. Did I understand fully what life would be like here when we moved here? NO Is it easy? NO Do I like the Evangelical culture here? NO But, I am not the people pleaser I was in high school and I do what is best for my family here, even though it is out of step with the culture. It hurts sometimes when I am misunderstood here but I see my healthy boys that have a much healthier view of God than I did when I went to church as a child and youth “whenever the doors were open”. They will also have things to work through when they grow up…but hopefully they won’t be the same ones I did. The book is FANTASTIC and I appreciate your courage to write it.

    1. Thanks so much Wendy. Love that your missionary story has a twist to it. Doesn’t it always? And aren’t you so glad? I love that the book resonated and that you’re reading it with your high school BFF. That makes me so happy. Thanks again for reading and for taking the time to write this kind note.

  16. Gosh, why did everyone have that shirt but me? I spent several years lusting after it whenever I saw it in the ad section of Brio Magazine.

  17. Hi Addie – just finished your book. I see I’m quite outnumbered as a guy. I came to it via “for the one who married young” as I recall. Your book is beautiful; I love the nuance of it and look forward to more. With thanks, Steve

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