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Coming Clean: A Story of Faith Paperback – October 27, 2015
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Coming Clean is not simply a book for alcoholics; it’s a book for anyone who has dealt with pain and been left scrabbling after God when their coping mechanisms fail or easy answers run out. This book is a mirror, held up for all of us to behold our addictions and the ways we’re all still recovering. Raw, sobering, miraculously ordinary, hopeful, beautiful, and yet terrifying. Seth is an honest writer, and there is no higher praise. (―Sarah Bessey, author of Out of Sorts and Jesus Feminist)
We’ve all got our vices, but without them, how would we cope? Along comes Seth Haines, with a luminous pen, an uncommon authenticity, and a palpable hope for anyone who’s tired of numbing the pain. Read at your own risk. This book might change your life. (―Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of Love Idol)
Haines tells an engaging story of faith and addiction, of hope and despair, of trust and fear, of joy and pain, of patience and pride. His honesty is refreshing, his faith is challenging, his hope is encouraging, his love is passionate, and his portrait of God’s grace is amazing. This book is worth reading slowly and thoughtfully, allowing the transformative power of God’s grace to change the reader as it is changing the author. (―Glenn R. Kreider, Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary)
Seth Haines is a powerful storyteller, one who sticks to the narrative no matter how difficult the details without overcompensation, flowery disclaimers, or too much commentary. In Coming Clean, Haines offers readers a raw glimpse into his own brokenness, a struggle involving faith, substance, and life’s difficult path. Within these pages I not only became engrossed in the beauty and pain of Haines’ journey, but I also found bits and pieces of my own humanity throughout. Coming Clean is one of the best books about faith I’ve read this year, and I believe it will be one of yours too. (―Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and Our Great Big American God)
I honestly don’t know how to put into words how this book has opened my eyes, healed me, pushed me, and brought me peace. But it has done all those things, and I will never be the same. (―Annie F. Downs, author of Let’s All Be Brave)
Vivid, uneasy, convicting. Seth Haines has written the best book of the past year. Coming Clean is the work of a true storyteller, a direct, crisp narrative shot through with poetic asides and the turmoil common to us all. At once a celebration of and a eulogy for our humanity, Haines commands language and style so deftly the work reads like the highest literary fiction. Approachable and witty, Coming Clean is a sobering reflection, no matter your addiction. (―Preston Yancey, Canon Theologian, Anglican Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast)
Seth Haines’ Coming Clean is a profoundly courageous work that provides any reader a major dose of hope and guidance, whether or not he or she struggles with the more conventional addictions. His prose is heartfelt and moving, and though written in journal form, there is a depth to his reflections and revelations. They are significant thoughts, and the glimpses into his soul are truly meaningful. Readers will be encouraged and inspired in their own faith lives. (―Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort, Presbyterian Church (USA), author of Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology; Streams Run Uphill: Conversations with Clergy Women of Color; and Yoked: Stories of a Clergy Couple in Marriage, Family, and M)
Coming Clean is more than it seems. More than a journey toward sobriety, more than another memoir. With honest pain and discovery dappled with poetry, Seth Haines prophesies to us of what it means to find the peace of God and the forgiveness of Christ. Read these words; you will never be the same. (―Zach J. Hoag, author, preacher, and blogger)
Seth had me imagining what the world could look like if we all were widening our wounds, bleeding together, rejoicing in the astounding, transformative work of suffering, and coming clean as a global community. How beautiful. How kingdom. (―Erika Morrison, author of Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul)
If honesty were an ocean, Seth boldly goes to the depths. Coming Clean is a book we’ve been waiting for, mostly because the church rarely goes below honesty’s surface. Hopefully, this book will not only teach us to swim; it will teach us to start diving. (―A. J. Swoboda, PhD, pastor, author, professor)
Coming Clean is a gift of redemptive lyric, growing out of sober reflection that quietly compels the reader to honestly process their own faith journey. (―Thomas Addington, PhD, cofounder and CEO, Givington’s)
Seth Haines states it plainly around the fiftieth page of Coming Clean when he writes that “words are often poor illusions” when it comes to discussing the painful topics of addiction and unforgiveness. But using those “poor illusions,” he offers up an honest and engaging narrative. Raw and soothing by turns, this memoir is a fine creation, one that provides a plumb line for anyone who has walked away from the simple center of faith. (―Jamie A. Hughes, award-winning editor and writer)
Within these pages you will encounter the heart of a man and God’s heart for him. Seth’s honest words invite us all to come clean before a God who is comfortable in the mess. Coming Clean offers hope not feigned but known in the dark hours of pain and doubt. This is a book of uncommon depth and beauty. (―Jamin Goggin, author of Beloved Dust)
This is a book about about coming clean, yes, but also about faith and pain and how we try to medicate our fear that nobody is listening when we pray. Seth’s honest words about his own journey of loss and recovery and forgiveness give me hope and encourage me to keep walking. (―Micah J. Murray, blogger at micahjmurray.com)
No one wants to admit they have a problem, but the truth is we all have one. Coming Clean acts as both a mirror and a map. Seth Haines’ beautifully pointed writing and compelling story of sobriety force us to look at the realities of our own pain, but show us the way of healing by directing us to the goodness of God. For the pastor, for the layperson, for the victim of addiction, for the person with air in their lungs, Coming Clean is required reading. I’ve waited my whole life for this book, and I’m giving it to everyone I know. (―Nish Weiseth, author of Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World)
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Top Customer Reviews
He’s consumed by anger. Certain things – a reference on a blog post, a news story, an off-hand remark or comment – and he blazes into an instant conflagration, and takes no prisoners. He’s irrational at these times and cannot be reasoned with. I’ve seen the anger and, yes, the hatred, pour forth online like a torrent of venom.
It’s as if he is one person with two distinct personalities. I know where the anger comes from; it’s where all irrational and self-destructive anger comes from. It is comes from pain, a pain buried so deep that it may never be excavated without serious and lengthy counseling.
Ask Seth Haines.
Seth’s problem wasn’t anger. Seth’s problem was alcohol, a pain-driven addiction to alcohol. Alcohol numbed the pain, made it manageable and bearable. The immediate cause was the failure of his youngest son Titus to thrive, a child who physically looked as if he was not long for this world. Doctors in Arkansas couldn’t make a diagnosis. Some things worked, for a time. And then they didn’t.
Seth stopped praying. A leader in his local church, and he stopped praying. He turned to alcohol.
The pain was about the alcohol. And it was really about his son’s health problems. The pain was deeper than that. Alcohol was a preventive measure to keep from touching that pain. Start of 4 in the afternoon with a quick drink in the office. Fix a drink as soon as he arrived home so his wife Amber wouldn’t smell the liquor on his breath. Sneak more liquor when she was out of the room.
She knew, of course. What wife wouldn’t know? She was simultaneously dealing with a physically sick child and an emotionally and spiritually sick husband. Amber Haines must be one tough woman. Or perhaps simply blessed by God’s grace.
Seth’s wake-up call came at a Christian conference in Austin. And it came through a fellow alcoholic. He stepped away from alcohol, and it wasn’t easy. It’s probably still not easy. But it’s better.
He began counseling. And he kept a journal. That journal has become Seth’s story, Coming “Clean: A Story of Faith.” It’s not a nice narrative written in chronological order. It’s a story that happens in fits and starts, going backward and forward and sometimes sideways. At times it reads like poetry, beautiful almost stream-of-consciousness poetry. It’s filled with the exploration of pain and some theology and some faith. And a lot of grace, possibly more grace than Seth himself realizes. But I think he knows.
“Coming Clean” is painful to read. But you should read it. My friend who’s so consumed with anger should read it, because it is really not a story about alcoholism.
Don’t avoid the pain. The pain is going to be where you, like Seth, can find God.
For the first 90 days of his sobriety, he kept a journal. We hold it in book form. It wasn’t until October 5th he admitted: “I’ve not yet said it, but I’m afraid I can name my wrestling with the bottle. Some might call it abuse. I think I might say it different. ‘Hello, my name is Seth Haines’ and all of that.”
That’s what “Coming Clean” offers us. An inside look at facing our addictions. He makes it very clear we all have something we turn to in an effort to numb ourselves. Hide from the unpleasant things of life.
It’s a tricky thing facing our addictions. Control. Food. Alcohol. Womanizing. Fill in the blank. You can’t write about it in nicely formed paragraphs with flowery illustrations. Seth doesn't try to do that. Rather, he lets us inside his messy, personal battle. He discloses what he learns in his therapy sessions. The things in his past he has to process. Learning how to sit in the troubled parts of your soul is sure to leave one uncomfortable. This book assures us that is a very normal part of the process.
Seth tells his own journey, but a journey that is so familiar to all of us, it is certainly familiar to me. The story of pain, of numbing that pain, and the journey to recovery that goes through the critical step of forgiveness.
The story is so raw and honest that it is equal parts inspiring and convicting. The third section on forgiveness was almost unreadable the first time through. The works were beautiful. But the concept of forgiveness as Seth lays out is so missing from my life. And so necessary in my own recovery.
Go buy this book. Read this book. Pick it up and read again. Share a copy with a friend.
As Seth says early on in the book “The bottle is not the thing. The addiction is not the thing. The pain is the thing.” This book is a powerful, meaningful journey through dealing with that pain and drawing near to the God and his mercy.