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Coming Clean: A Story of Faith

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  676 ratings  ·  116 reviews
“I suppose we're all drunk on something.”

Seth Haines was in the hospital with his wife, planning funeral songs for their not-yet two-year-old, when he made a very conscious decision: this was the last day he wanted to feel. That evening, he asked his sister to smuggle in a bottle of gin, and gave in to addiction.

But whether or not you've ever had a drop to drink in your li
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 2015 by Zondervan
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4.24  · 
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 ·  676 ratings  ·  116 reviews

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Anne Bogel
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This memoir, which reads like a journal of Haines's first 90 days of sobriety, was absolutely fantastic. I didn't expect to resonate so powerfully with Haines's story about overcoming an addiction to drink, but as Haines writes, "we're all drunk on something." He makes the case that alcohol is just one of many ways to hide from our real lives, and that the journey to wholeness isn't easy for any of us. This poignant, beautiful book is about so much more than overcoming addiction.
Tanya Marlow
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a stunningly written, theologically rich, compellingly told memoir of a journey from alcoholism to sobriety, and from anger with God at unanswered prayer to a surrender to mystery. Seth Haines started drinking when his beautiful little boy - emaciated, weak - was seemingly dying of a mysterious chronic illness for which the doctors had no answers. The structure of the book follows his journal of the first ninety days of his sobriety - but it’s far more sophisticated than a ‘dear diary’ f ...more
Shawn Smucker
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
We are, all of us, addicts. Coming Clean is a beautiful tale told by someone who has gone ahead of us, explored the vast terrain of inner sobriety, and can report back that it is, indeed, a good place to be.
Sean Strehlow
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For a person who isn't familiar with Coming Clean or the author, it would be easy to wander to the Christian Living section of the store and glaze over this title as another formula for self-help. I wish I could stop everyone of those people and ask them to please reconsider their assumption, and give this book a chance. I think they would find that, in a world that offers an easy do-it-yourself formulaic fix, Coming Clean conveys a hard but simple truth that life's ailments are best met with a ...more
Annie Rim
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
When I first heard of Coming Clean by Seth Haines, I figured I wouldn't connect with the book. After all, I'm not an addict. But, as Haines says in his invitation, we are all addicted to something. This book isn't about addiction but about the human experience.

Haines is right - while his particular addiction may be alcohol, for others it's zoning out in front of a screen or food abuse or intellectualism or perfectionism. (Those last two hit closer to home for me than drugs or alcohol.) We all st
Amy McCathran
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book resonated with me in a deep way. It is the story of coming clean from an alcohol addiction, but it is also the story of wrestling with the theological ramifications of having a chronically ill child and struggling with knowing how to pray and if God even is listening. I have a son that has had multiple heart surgeries and will never be "cured." I understood the picture Seth paints of struggling with the notion that your child may never be "healed," and if he is "healed," why him and no ...more
Cara Meredith
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There's a reason I read this book in three days: I could not put it down. Such a powerful account, narrative arc or not, of truth and addictions.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. Some very thought-provoking subject matter. This is really less about alcohol than it is about a crisis of faith. The author journals through his first 90 days of sobriety and has to come to terms with other moments in his life where he’s been robbed of, or lost, his childlike faith in an abiding God who works in people’s lives. The insights on forgiveness are very powerful. If you read this book, set aside expectations and just allow it to be what it is.
Mandi Ehman
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had the words to convince you to read this book. It may just be my favorite read of 2015. I don't know Seth Haines personally, and I've found myself slightly cynical about bloggers-turned-authors recently, but this book? SO GOOD. On the surface, it's the story of Seth's journey to sobriety, but it's so much more. If you've ever doubted the existence, presence or interest of God...if you've wrestled with your faith and prayers unanswered...if you've sought religious rules and systems to ...more
Lori Mcfarlane
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Being an atheist, one might thing I'm here to trash this book.

I'm not. I thought this book was moving, insightful, real, and inspiring. I applaud Haines' journey, and I applaud his resolution. I truly mean that. I loved this book; I loved his writing style, his beautiful imagery, his perfect rendering of the ache of the faith crisis. His denoument is beautiful and enlightening.

(My full review can be found here: It isn't quite right Goodreads-y enough to
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book more than I expected. It is a journal of a man's first 90 days of sobriety after discovering he has an alcohol problem. But it's so much more than that. I really appreciated Seth Haines's beautiful writing style, and I could relate to his background of growing up in the church and now being a moderate 30-something's struggling to apply his faith to challenges in his own life. He writes so honestly and humbly about his own journey to deal with his pain (instead of ignoring or ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I needed this book in ways I did not anticipate when I picked it up. One of the reasons I read is to find new friends for the journey, and Seth Haines is officially part of my tribe. This isn’t really a story about alcoholism or sobriety— it’s a story about faith and doubt, about making sense of a God who chooses not to heal you or someone you love, about the anguish of living in mystery when you are mentally wired for systems and logic and explanations and rationalism. It’s about the wounds of ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book took me on an unexpected journey. Recommended by a friend, I thought I’d give it a go as I have dear people in my life who struggle with addictions. The first 40 pages were boring. Around page 8o I was intrigued. And then I became enthralled. The authors audacity to question God is such a raw a vulnerable way resonated deeply. “Yes! I’ve wondered that same thing!”

This book really is a book about forgiveness. I underlined so much in the second half, that is much go on my “reference” sh
Embo Tshimanga
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've always been in love with stories since I read my first Magic Tree House book and this is why: Feelings are universal. Stories are universal. When they combine, you get a tangible sense of hope. You read someone's story and identify with why they are the way they are or who they are and there's something beautiful in knowing that you aren't alone in your doubt, confusion, or faith. Seth Haines does just that. Writing the bare honest raw truth while walking through the first ninety days of so ...more
The liquor hiding isolates me from the community of faith that helps hold me up. This is the way of any addiction, isn’t it? Aren’t all of our vices just a convenient distraction from the voice of God speaking to the inner person, from his community that speaks too?...If you deal with your pain, you won’t need the numbness.

Seth Haines battle with addiction is our battle as well. We may have a different way to ease the numbness. It is a spiritual battle. There may not be broken limbs, but there
Trinity Rose
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Coming Clean is a true journaling of a man who was addicted to alcohol. The book is his first 90 days of sobriety. His drinking started when their young son isn’t thriving and Seth believes he will die. He can’t face up to the pain so he hides behind the drink. The first part of his sobriety is quiet sad and he has a very hard time, but with God and facing his past he finds the help he needs.
This book isn’t full of happiness and joy, but a journey that will keep you reading to find out whaat a
Janna Barber
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Christian books are often known for self-help formulas and various recipes for success, but this book is a personal account of one man's journey toward sobriety. Seth Haines did not write a how-to book, he just told his own story of how he finally began doing the next right thing. From the beginning, Seth's honest and straightforward voice convinces us that his story is one that we all need to hear. "This is not a clean story," he says. "This is a story of coming clean." Whether you think of you ...more
Michelle Hart
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
The book is written in journal style. Normally, for me, that's a bit off-putting, but in this book it works. We walk with the author through his first 90 days of sobriety as he works through what brought him to this point and discovers what will take him forward.

"We're all alone together, no matter what shiny face we might be wearing. We are all just people trying to work out our first, best, and only possibility." p 28 Good point to remember.

"The bones of faith are brittle. This is a product of
Amy Kannel
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This will be the memoir to beat on my reading list this year. I loved it so much I'm considering buying a print copy even though I already own it for Kindle (Kindle editions are so annoying to flip through, and I highlighted a million lines/passages).

I will say that although his struggle/diagnosis of heart issues resonated so very deeply with me, his resolution with its emphasis on childhood wounds and forgiveness did not. Which meant the book sort of went like this: "Yes. Yes. Yes. YES. Oh my
Charity Craig
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Seth Haines knows how to tell a story, and in this spiritual memoir we get the very best of his tale spinning as he unpacks the beginning, middle, and ending of his alcohol addiction.

The book has much to offer to anyone struggling with addiction: it's categorized as "Christian life" and "personal growth." But don't let the topic of addiction keep you from the book. "I suppose we're all drunk on something," Seth writes, and then he goes ahead and shows us from his life all the other things beside
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Seth says it best. In his closing statement, he writes:

"I told you this isn't a clean story. It does not move through conflict to perfect and complete resolutions. Instead, it moves to a simpler end: God is mystery. His Spirit speaks to babes and children, and if we let it, it'll speak to us still. It will speak first, "Forgive," and then, who knows? The Spirit us like a wind, you know."

I want to turn around and soak in these words again. This book has unlocked something so desperately needed
tonia peckover
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir about coming clean from alcoholism, but it's also a book about our addictions to self-medicating the fear, doubt, pain and grief that make up every day life. Beautifully written and unflinchingly honest, this is a book that we can all relate to. What mattered most to me is that Haines doesn't accept pat answers. He keeps digging deeper, keeps asking, keeps seeking. So often memoirs about faith and doubt stop blithely at the first bible verse that speaks and expect that somehow i ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Not since Blue Like Jazz and Traveling Mercies have I read such an honest work of Christian nonfiction. This book really spoke to me, illuminating the doubts I seldom speak of and giving me new insights into the importance of forgiveness.

I worry that people won't pick this book up because they think it's just another "journey to sobriety" story. It's so much more than that! It's chock full of theological food for thought and rich insights into the human condition. There's something here for eve
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I appreciated the narrative and the growth that occurred in Haines through his wrestling with his addiction. I did myself a disservice in expecting his book to be like his wife's (which I absolutely loved) and not look into the format of this one. He brings up the incredibly power of God as mystery & I'm grateful for the power of the wisdom that he shared.

I find myself months later still applying how Haines responded to his addiction in sins I experience in my own life. Do not underestimate
Hilary Mak
This was a beautifully written journal of the author's first 90 days of sobriety. Seth Haines is not your conventional alcoholic: an attorney, a worship leader, a family man, and the book is perhaps all the more striking because of this. 'There but for the grace of God ....' comes to mind. Brutally honest, searching and humbling, he confronts some of the 'demons' that he had never previously dealt with and that had maybe resulted in his drinking problem.
For me, it was the need to forgive that st
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A beautifully written, powerful book. Coming Clean got me thinking about what we're all really looking for when we avoid our pain and hurts. Highly recommended.

"Distractions -- aren't they all around? When life slides its shiv into the soft spot between two ribs, when the pain shoots through every nerve, common sense dictates that we run to the doctor or therapist. Common sense dictates that we allow them to take it out and bind our wounds. Why, then, do we so often ignore the shivs? Why do we a
Kelly Schulz
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Incredible, raw and wrecking of the very best sort!!!
We are all souls asking the same question – is God there in the face of our pain and suffering?
We all seek to soothe the ache of this question in different ways – whether it be through materialism, power, food, fitness, or even the subtler addictions of elite theologies and rigid methodology.
I cannot think of anyone who would not benefit from an attentive read through this man's brave story of wrestling in the very darkest soul-places and fin
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 & compelling story of sobriety forces us to look at the realities of our own pain, but shows 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 ...more
Erin Henry
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was an engrossing memoir about dealing with the pain from unanswered prayers for healing. His story is very moving and relatable. He talks about how we numb with addiction either alcohol, shopping, sex, intellectual studies, etc. instead of facing the pain of life. His big premise was that forgiveness will free us. Forgiving people who hurt you by accident or even on purpose. he stresses a lot that we are all trying our best. And then emphasizing continually returning to God through prayer ...more
Jackie Wolfred
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Coming Clean: A Story of Faith" by Seth Haines, chronicled the author's journey from addiction to his journey of forgiveness and healing. The book came at the perfect time as I had been praying for someone near me to overcome his addiction to pills. As I read, keeping this 'someone' in mind, I noticed at some point the focus had shifted to me and my need for healing and forgiveness. Very powerful.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodread's Giveaway.
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Seth Haines is an attorney and author who makes his home in the Ozark mountains. His first book, Coming Clean (Zondervan 2015), is a raw account of his first ninety days of sobriety. A recovering alcoholic, Seth shares his journey through pain and doubt, and into the love of a healing and abiding God. He and his wife Amber Haines have four boys and a dog named Lucy. You can find him at sethhaines. ...more
“I’ve become dependent upon something other than the God I claim.” 2 likes
“Forgiveness, I am learning, cannot stand as a single, once-and-for-all event. Every morning brings a fresh coffeepot, and a fresh chance to get back to this messy and necessary work.” 2 likes
More quotes…