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  • Writer's pictureAnn Skalaski

Summer Reading

The Book of Waking Up by Seth Haines

Ann Skalaski

I recently shared that our summer vacation was cut short when my husband suffered an injury requiring us to head home for him to have surgery. The injury occurred the morning of our first full day of FCA Coaches Camp. That morning Marcellus Casey delivered a message titled “Waking Up” where he referenced The Book of Waking Up: Experiencing the Divine Love That Reorders a Life by Seth Haines. Marcellus encouraged everyone to read this book.

The next day, while anxiously waiting for my husband to get out of surgery, I decided to order the book. Placing my one-click order, I felt some welcome relief from my anxiety.

The book is about how we attach to coping mechanisms (aka lesser loves or idols) to manage painful circumstances or wounds. The author, self-medicating his own pain surrounding his helplessness to fix his infant son’s health crisis, turned to the bottle. But it was after he stopped drinking, that he realized the deeper issue. The problem of pain. Sobriety didn’t make the pain go away. Haines quickly discovered that he had simply transferred his coping mechanism from drinking to…wait for it…one-click shopping for the perfect self-help book. Wait, what? That’s a form of self-medicating? Then I recalled the way ordering the book had delivered a shot of relief from the anxiety I was feeling during my husband’s surgery.

Haines now had my full attention.

Haines asserts that the disordered attachments we use to medicate our pain range from the obvious---drugs, sex, alcohol, to the more obscure---shopping, binge eating or binge watching, social media, exercise, relationships, recognition. Anything that distracts us from pain and keeps us from running to the Divine Love that is the actual remedy for pain. Anything that keeps us asleep to that truth.

Understanding that this would be our struggle, Jesus admonishes his disciples and us to stay awake.

“And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:37 ESV)

Similarly, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul urged them to walk in God’s love and lay aside lesser loves, calling on the church to:

“Wake up, sleeper; rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph. 5:14 ESV)

What I love about this book is that it is grounded in a Biblical worldview, supported by Scripture. Using disordered attachments to deal with pain, whether in the form of addictions or idolatry is an age-old problem and there is only one solution. Waking from addiction to adoration.

Haines suggests this three-step process: Wake to the Pain; Wake to your Coping Mechanisms; Wake to the Divine Love. He even includes a short quiz to help readers identify their personal coping mechanisms. Haines also recommends being part of a faith community, and waking practices like communion, prayer, meditation, and reading God’s Word to help us stay awake.

As I finished the book, and reflected on the day I ordered it, I thought about my husband as he was waking from the anesthesia. When he opened his eyes, he asked me if I had seen his surgeon yet. I told him that I had and that he said everything had gone well. He closed his eyes, opening them a minute or two later only the ask me, again, if I had seen his doctor yet. This happened a few more times (think, Groundhog Day) before the heavy anesthesia wore off enough that he could stay awake. An apt illustration that the waking up described in Haines book is a process rather than an event.

The Book of Waking Up is organized in a unique format---each page is numbered with a heading. Some readers may find that distracting, as I did at first. But, as I settled into the book, I read it more as a journal with the subject matter building as it would if you were sharing thoughts as you discovered them.

The format does make it easy to go back a find things---and I know I will be referring back to this book often in my own journey to stay awake.

This is a great book for anyone seeking to live fully awakened to God’s love, allowing it to be what soothes your pain and the wounds of everyday life.

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