Wednesday, November 13, 2013

[Review] Sober Mercies by Heather Kopp

Title: Sober Mercies
Author: Heather Kopp
Publisher: Jericho Books May 7, 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
Theme: Christian author strives for sobriety and healing from past.
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 224
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Jericho Books for the purpose of review on this blog and at The Christian Manifesto.

Link for review at The Christian Manifesto.

I've never read a book that is as transparent, raw, in my face with conviction, as Sober Mercies. Weeks after reading this book I'm pulled back to the memory of it. I'm reminded of a deep insight Kopp wrote, or a wretched moment she shared from her life, or something she expressed that stirred in my mind things from the past.
Heather Kopp is a Christian, author, wife, mother, alcoholic. She spent twelve years as an out of control, yet carefully trying to stifle and hide, alcoholism. The mask she wore began to crack, she no longer had the energy required to keep up the pace in hiding the alcoholism.
After a job change for her husband and a move to another state, she realized she must admit to her husband about her problem. Being honest with him was the first step in revealing her carefully guarded secret. Heather decided to check into a treatment center. While in the treatment center she is humbled in realizing, “she is like those other alcoholics”.
At first sight, Sober Mercies, is a book about a Christian woman coming to terms with a painful childhood and alcoholism. In digging a little deeper, it is a book that reflects all of us, because all humans hide something, whether it is an addiction, personality quirk, or bodily flaw. Each of us carry on as if we are “just fine”, yet we have a hidden painful scar from our past, or a physical scar, that if exposed, we would feel the awful word spelled s-h-a-m-e. Many of us in the Christian community talk about how we wish more Christians would be transparent, yet we don't want it to be us. I admire Heather for coming forward with her book.
While reading Sober Mercies a profound meaty insight would stop me dead in my reading, I would hastily grab my pencil in order to write down the quote. 
 
Up until that day when I fell on my knees and sobbed beside my bed, God's grace had been a nice option, a convenient option, but not my only option. I had known about grace, talked about grace, written about grace. Grace had been part of my rallying cry when I was mentally at war with all those horrible, legalistic Christians who obviously didn't have enough of it. And when alcohol had taken me captive, grace had mattered to me mostly because it was a critical clause in my spiritual contract with God whereby He had to let me into heaven no matter how much I drank. I had greedily accepted the gift, only to hawk it for my drug of choice.” page 145 
 
Heather expressed at the end of her story that God never stopped loving her. Heather began drinking as a crutch and escape from a pained reality. The alcoholism is ugly and destructive, but God took the ugly and made it into “something beautiful”.

My favorite quote: "When parents make the kind of mistakes that mine did, it's easier to make their villain status permanent than it is to recognize they're screwed-up people in need of forgiveness...Once you've experienced terrible failure as a parent and been handed your own enormous bag of potatoes, you realize that your parents did the best they could with what they'd been given. You quit revisiting the past and invite yourself over for Sunday dinner. Finally, you sit down at the table with everyone else, where you belong." Page 175.


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