How Love Caught up with a Christian Drunk
Shedding all religiosity, Heather speaks candidly of the miracle that never came; the miracle that, somehow, if she prayed and repented, would surely free her from the bondage of alcohol. The miracle that does come, however, is the realization that she needs help. It’s a miracle Heather doesn’t want.
How do you live with the idea of losing something you can’t imagine living without?
Heather’s greatest fear is recovery. Ultimately, she shows us that recovery is a place where the things we hope, as well as the things we dread, really do come true. And that mercy, when it comes to us, is indeed sobering.
As a reader, I wanted the book to grab my attention and help me to understand more about addiction. As a human being, I wanted a good story. As a Christian, I wanted Sober Mercies to help me to see and to love differently. It's all of these.
On the journey toward recovery, it finally dawns on Heather that not only was alcohol at the center of her life. Alcohol was her life.
How do you start over and create a whole new life for yourself?
Heather’s first attempts lead eventually to relapse; a relapse that somehow sends both Heather and her husband Dave deeper into their marriage and deeper into God’s grace.
Relapse shows Heather that being a Christian and having a supportive husband are not enough. When she finds a sponsor who keeps her accountable and helps her to move through the necessary steps, Heather begins the process of recovery of “the self who had vanished years before; the self abducted by alcohol.”
With the help of her sponsor, Heather begins to tell herself the truth, starting with a heartbreaking accounting of the many losses associated with her drinking. She sees all the ways she enlisted her husband, Dave, to support her addiction. She talks about the process of his recovery, as well—recovery from being married to a “duplicitous raging drunk.” She comes to recognize the mix of shame, lying and secrets that play into alcoholism. For the first time, she realizes that she needs to change in ways that go far deeper than simply no longer putting alcohol into her body.
It’s not pretty, but it’s hopeful. Maybe that’s what makes it hopeful.
At last, Heather shares that pivotal moment when she begins to allow God to save her from herself, and from her own cynicism and arrogance. She offers a glimpse into what it is like to patiently work a program of recovery and rely on God in order to do so.
Just when you think she’s through, Heather goes even deeper. As she begins to discern patterns from her early life, she recognizes that the real temptation for her has always been in the thrill of cheating; something that has been with her since childhood.
More than being hooked on alcohol, Heather discovered she was hooked on the idea of getting away with something she couldn’t resist, and the thrill she got when she “won” by cheating. It was the real problem behind the addiction that simply being alcohol-free was not going to solve. (By age twelve, Heather tells us, she was “already in training to be a secret drunk.”)
Later, when her son, Noah, starts into recovery, Heather describes a hope so fragile and sobering, I found myself holding my breath through it. She articulates so well the heart of what it means to let go—something we talk about all the time—and of finding that “the only hope is in surrendering all hope.” Heather explores new territory with God—the God whom she refers to as “God as I don’t understand him” in the kind of radical trust that isn’t attached to outcomes.
Sober Mercies is a compelling story based on self-discovery and self-disclosure—a story you’ll hate to finish.