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When Heather Kopp arrived at rehab, she didn't fear the physical agony of withdrawal or the chance that she would relapse. Rather, she worried she wouldn't fit in. A 40-something mom of two and a veteran of Christian publishing, Kopp had never been in jail or on the streets. Her husband drove her from their comfortable Colorado Springs home to a group facility where the other patients, she feared, would look down on her for not having fallen quite as far. She'd simply let a nightly glass of wine turn into two, which turned into a bottle, which eventually led to additional mini bottles hidden and secretly chugged in the bathroom. Soon enough, every moment of her life revolved around her next chance to sneak away for a drink. It was a bad situation, but it wasn't exactly the kind of flashy rock-bottom story that, say, sells memoirs.
But Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk (Jericho Books) proves just how wrong she was to minimize the depths of her descent. Kopp's highly readable account draws the reader in, opening up a window into the mind of a burgeoning alcoholic. But as it moves through her rehab and recovery phases into her struggle to understand God's presence amid her alcoholism, the book grounds everything in a universal truth: Substance abuse is a physical manifestation of a spiritual addiction to sin. And everyone, it turns out, is an addict.
It takes only a few days at rehab before Kopp realizes that trying to come across as "relatable" to the other patients means she is positioning herself above them. The only reason any of them are there at all, she realizes, is a physical dependence on alcohol they have tried and failed to shake on their own. Through her recovery process and relationships with other recovering alcoholics, she begins to question her former ideas of who God is and what it means to respond to his love.
The intersection of addiction and faith is not new territory—Alcoholics Anonymous ...