Addict has become such an interesting word in our culture. We’re addicted to shopping, to coffee, to Netflix. We joke about not being able to stop these addictions, knowing full well how benign they are to our health and relationships. I wonder how this blasé use of the word sounds to true addicts? People who are in debt because they can’t stop shopping, who have health issues because of eating addictions, who have severed relationships due to drugs and alcohol? I’m guilty of this – I say I’m addicted to books or quiet or whatever without thinking about the weight of my words and their meaning.
When I first heard of Coming Clean by Seth Haines, I figured I wouldn’t connect with the book. After all, I’m not an addict. But, as Haines says in his invitation, we are all addicted to something. This book isn’t about addiction but about the human experience.
Haines is right – while his particular addiction may be alcohol, for others it’s zoning out in front of a screen or food abuse or intellectualism or perfectionism. (Those last two hit closer to home for me than drugs or alcohol.) We all struggle with filling the void in our lives with things that are unhealthy and that don’t address our true needs.
The easy Sunday school answer is that our needs can be filled with Jesus. And while that’s true, Haines goes deeper. What is the root? It’s not just that we don’t have enough faith or a strong enough relationship with God. Through this journal of his first ninety days of sobriety, Haines works through his grappling with the root of addiction. We journey with him from the Sunday school answer of Jesus to something much deeper.
As Haines nears the end of his first three months, he realizes that forgiveness is the root of his addiction. For Haines, he is unable to forgive God for not healing him or his son of health problems. He goes on to say,
Unforgiveness is the ultimate act of the human will, I think. It is a private declaration that we know better than Christ, that we’d sooner our enemies receive their just desserts than find reconciliation. (pg 189)
While Coming Clean is the personal journey of Haines’ road to recovery, he touches on so much more than addiction. He guides us through our own human journey of forgiveness and expectation and how we fill our lives with so many things to avoid what God has called us to do: Love each other, including our selves.
This is a book that has already sparked discussion, has given me greater empathy for those whose lives are undone by the effects of addiction, and has me reflecting on my own need to fill my life with labels rather than resting in the identity of being forgiven.
What labels do you use to define yourself?
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Coming Clean. Leave a comment with a word that encompasses your identity and I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, November 13, 2015. (United States addresses only.)