Ed Stetzer: Today I am glad to welcome Seth Haines to The Exchange. Seth is author of The Book of Waking Up: Experiencing the Divine Love That Reorders a Life (Zondervan). His first book, Coming Clean, received an award of merit in Christianity Today’s 2016 book awards.
Ed: Your first book was your story of finding sobriety. What is your new book, The Book of Waking Up, about? Do you see your journey to sobriety differently than you used to?
Seth: I see my sobriety journey so much differently now, six years into a season of being undrunk. Coming Clean was a real-time journal, one I wrote in the anxious process of quitting the bottle. In those early days, I wasn’t sure whether to call myself an alcoholicor to use more palatable language like “I’m dependent” or “I have a drinking problem.”
As I walked deeper into sobriety, I realized the precise language around my relationship with alcohol mattered less than the truth of that relationship. The truth was, I was using alcohol to numb my pain instead of opening myself to the divine love and healing of God.
Now, I don’t worry so much about monikers and nomenclature. I don’t apply a “do or do not” definition to sobriety, either. Instead, I ask myself whether I’m marked by inner sobriety, or the sobriety characterized by connection with God’s divine love above all else.
Ed: You write that we are all “people of coping mechanisms ranging from the illegal to the socially acceptable.” Why do you think we all have addictions of some sort? What do they have in common? And are all addictions equal?
Seth: Addiction—it’s such a tricky word, isn’t it? Through my general observation of human nature, though, I’ve come to believe we all tend to have some kind of coping mechanism, something we use when the pain comes calling.
Some use booze or oxycodone when they have emotional pain. Some turn to over-consumption (whether shopping or eating) or over-working when scarcity sets in. In their loneliness, some turn to codependency or Tinder or porn or social media. Some might even turn to knowledge about God instead of toGod.
These coping mechanisms have one thing in common: none can bring spiritual healing. And no, these coping mechanisms are not all equal. Some affect the body is more drastic ways (e.g., heroin, alcohol, and porn). Some take 12-step groups or professional help to overcome.
But even if your coping mechanisms are less destructive to the body, if they aren’t ordered under God’s grace, they’re destructive to the soul.