Kopp, Heather Harpham. Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk. Jericho Books, 2013.
I have read thousands of books over the last 50 years, many of them very good, a few superb. And I have read more intently many in the last two years. I pay particular attention to books now because I have written several reviews, but even more so, because those that I write about affect me personally. But two books stand apart from all the others. Aside from the Bible, these two books have profoundly affected me, and in several different ways.
Emily Cook wrote Weak and Loved, and I had the privilege of reading a preview copy and writing a review. Her writing was gripping, realistic, and compelling. I read it in one day, literally spending 10 hours reading. As a parent I agonized with her in the long, unknown future of her daughter. I rejoiced with her in the answer to prayers, far beyond the miracle of Aggie, to the miracle of God working in Emily’s heart.
And now Heather has written the second stand-out book. The writing is on par with Emily’s, the story is just as riveting. But this one is so much closer to home for me. I am still reeling from the emotional impact (I may not be able to write about that for a while). I didn’t expect this; but it is probably the highest compliment I can pay to Heather. As I read, I marked several places, “this is right on target” —not for her, but me! I began thinking how many quotes are so pertinent to me. Half way through I gave up, because there were too many quotes to remember. As the days go by I will post a few of these quotes; they are too good not to share.
By opening her life to us as she relived the pain, struggle, hurt, anger, and more, she opened my heart for some needed searching and examining in some long forgotten recesses where I still struggle. Her Christian training had given her a sense of grace and all the intellectual support for understanding it. But her alcoholism exposed her need for grace in a different, more profound way. Not an intellectual appreciation, but experiencing God’s grace at the deepest level, the bottom of the barrel (or bottle in her case).
She faced the double challenge of her own addiction, and that of her son. Either would be overwhelming for most people, but combined, it was not only a vicious cycle, it was one that seemed to offer no hope. And yet God’s grace…
On a larger scale, her life story needs to be heard by those “comfortable” with church as usual. An encounter with God’s grace is life-changing, not just a one time event, but a daily life-changing encounter. That is the whole point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians!
Jesus “came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)— the lonely, the messy, the broken, the hurting, the outsiders, the victims, the volunteers (you need to read the book to catch that reference), the addict, the addict’s family, the forgotten…
At the end I wanted to hug Dave and Heather and the rest of the family. To celebrate, to walk with them, to learn from them. But even more, I want to hug those who suffer or struggle, people who need that kind of hug. A hug that reassures of God’s life-changing grace. They need someone to love them unconditionally. They need God’s grace in its fullness, just as Heather does, just as I do.
Thank you, Heather, for such an important book—to me, and I am sure, to many others.