What do you do when life gets hard and you just don’t want to feel anything? There are so many ways to hide from suffering, but real change comes in facing the pain, with the hope that Jesus will meet us there. This week’s Rabbit Reads selection is an excellent memoir about sobriety and so much more. Let us introduce you to Seth Haines…
Why We Love It: “…we seem to have a way of losing ourselves in our manmade salves—the bottle, the pill, the cheeseburger, self-inflicted starvation. I suppose we’re all drunk on something.”
It could be easy to ignore a memoir of sobriety if you’ve never found yourself in the middle of specific, debilitating addiction. At least, that’s how I felt, and if I wasn’t already interested in anything Seth Haines has to say, I might’ve overlooked this book. But I am so glad I didn’t.
Coming Clean is, indeed, the story of alcoholism and sobriety, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about faith shaken and found, a father’s ache, anxiety, forgiveness, and the ways we all seek to numb our pain. It’s about going straight into the dark cave of your fears and disappointments and facing the dragons. And whether we find ourselves medicating through alcohol, drugs, social media, or elite theology, Seth’s wisdom has something to say to us all.
This book came to life as a journal through his first 90 days of sobriety. He tells the story of his son Titus who was born with a mysterious health condition, the fear for Titus’ life that led him into alcoholism, and the long journey through the pain and into a deeper understanding of God’s grace.
Much like Russ Ramsey's Struck, this is a book that resists easy answers, running headlong into the pain and finding hope on the other side.Jen Rose Yokel
Perhaps the most compelling thing about this story is how it isn’t about looking back on a hard time and compiling neat lessons on the experience. Instead, we’re invited to journey with Seth through those first 90 days: the brushes with temptation, the confrontations with the past, the sweet memories of a child meeting God among the Texas mesquite trees, the setbacks and questions and doubts. Much like Russ Ramsey’s Struck, this is a book that resists easy answers, running headlong into the pain and finding hope on the other side.
Perhaps the author’s own introduction best describes what readers are in for: “This is not a program; it is not the last chapter of a journey. This is the beginning—my beginning. Maybe even yours.”
So it turns out Coming Clean is a book for everyone. Not just recovering or hoping-to-recover addicts, not just for those in the middle of darkness. For me, I read the book a year before a particularly difficult season, and found the lasting resonance of it comforting when I needed it most. Perhaps it could do the same for you, wherever you are.
Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.