MOBI Addie Zierman ☆ When We Were on Fire MOBI ¾ We Were on PDF/EPUB ☆

In the strange us versus them Christian subculture of the 1990s a person’s faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets she wore and whether he had kissed dating goodbye Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music She was on fire for God and unaware that the flame was dwindling—until it burned out Addie chronicles her journey through church culture and first love and her entrance—unprepared and angry—into marriage When she drops out of church and very nearly her marriage as well it is on a sea of teuila and depression She isn’t sure if she’ll ever go back  When We Were on Fire is a funny heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from what is expected to arrive at faith that is not bound by tradition or current church fashion Addie looks for what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping It’s a story for doubters cynics and anyone who has felt alone in church


10 thoughts on “When We Were on Fire

  1. says:

    I want to start out by saying two very important thingsFirst the book was well written It was an easy read you can read it in a day She is an elouent writer with good voice and paints a real picture about life in evangelical circles The Christianese definitions for each chapter is a really nice touch Second I don't want to discount anyone's story but I think I might with this review Everyone has a story and I want to respect that I also don't want to undermine the seriousness of depression It's rocky It's messy It's difficult It's different for each person It's debilitating It's horrible I know this about depression so I don't want to minimize her experience I want to respect her experience but I also want to be honest I have the utmost respect for people who put their story out thereBUT I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who has experienced great pain in life If only we could all be so lucky to experience a life like she wrote about There is a definite specific audience for this book I am not it but I know some people that will love itI can relate to much of her neatly written story I stood out in the rain on See You at the Pole And I went to the rallies And I gave up my lunch to pray and I came early for Bible Study I wore a purity ring And I watched God work Seriously it was like I was reading what my high school experience would have been if I lived in my current town which was also weird I've never read a book that so intimately describes the places the peoplethe pieces of my puzzle My favorite uote came from page 76If you had done what you wanted to do instead of watching over the boys and their vowsif you had allowed yourself to be hurt the usual ways that teenage boys hurt teenage girls instead of falling so nobly on the sword of the Spirit a constant sacrifice dying again and again to your own desires then maybe it would not have gone like this This deeply resonated with meAs a Christian school girl who prayed for God to do mighty things in my school and watched Him do mighty things in my school I thought falling on the sword of the Spirit was my job and Biblical Time and time again I fell on the sword and my heart got broken And then I picked up the pieces and moved on And I wonder what my life would be if we all stopped blaming God for the things He led us to do and spoke the truth I think my broken heart might have mended easier if boys didn't blame my brokenness on God's willI think her story is like many of us who grew up as teenagers in the 90s When it was easy to be on fire because everyone around us was There was Brio magazine and it was cool to go on missions trips and we could listen to Christian music at Berean bookstore with our friends for hours on end When even if we didn't want to talk about how our walk was going we still knew we were okay because God was shoved in our face every step of the way He didn't seem far away But there is so much to this conversation What has happened to us after the youth group went away? What happened when we realized the things we had done for God actually became our god? What happened when you realized you put too much faith in people and not enough faith in God? What has happened after we started getting involved in a church and then the church hurt us not once but twice and ? What happens when you're waiting waiting waiting on God? What happens when you're daily faced with the brokenness of the world we live in?How do we pick ourselves up from the sword we really fell onreality? I realize this is a memoir so it can't give answers But it left me wanting More conversation on faith on God on recovering from the sad parts of life When the book ended I felt like I had read a Karen Kingsbury book it was a neatly written story with a little messiness and then it got tied up with a pretty bow


  2. says:

    This book was a revelation And I say that in the true sense of the word Where do I begin? First of all it was scary The similarities were so freaky I could barely stop myself from yelling out loud while I was reading it And I kind of want to read it again to take notes or something I'm glad that Addie and her husband were able to work things out but in the middle when things were uncertain and he was still churchy and she wasn't I kept thinking to myself she's going to have to leave him this will never work And the reason I thought that is because a guy I dated in college is still a preacher still living in his same home town doing the work of the Lord and if the person I am today ran into the person he still is today there wouldn't be anything in the whole wide world that could convince me to be with him I got the feeling while I was reading that I had been duped somehow Like at Word of Life camp and youth group and the True Love Waits thing I kept thinking that it was a sham I lived through a sham Even the whole dating a guy and loving a guy because of his relationship with God and not who he was as a personit all hit so freakily close to homeMy rebellion against the church I grew up in and I say church as a general word happened on Martha's Vineyard when I was at a semester away from college A defining shift in my life occurred during that time and I have never been the same I think it was the people I was around the creativity the liberation to be a Christian and embrace the beautiful things in this world like music and art and comedy My mind was blown in the best possible way and when I went back to college it was as though everything there was exposed for what it was a fraud And I still believe that I still feel that the environment is one that perpetuates an ideology of judgement and the fakeness of the perfect Christian lifeLiving the Bible Belt I have felt my inner self rebel against the Christian life I see around me What I see on the conservative southern right is a tendency to believe that the way they live is the ONLY way to live that people who live or believe in any other way are wrong and that the world is black and white The older I get the gray things seem the complicated life becomes when friends die and people get sick and those you thought you could count on just tell you to pray your way through it My boyfriend says All we can do is hope our hearts are guiding us in the right direction What our mothers believe has no bearing on who God is to us And I think it is so wise The part in the book where Addie mentioned throwing the word shitty into conversation to see what the facial expression was because if the person could handle the word shitty they were a safe Christian and I realized that I unconsciously do that same thing I guess this book made me feel normal I love the Lord I am imperfect a screw up I mess things up every single day and live the most imperfect life ever and kick myself all the time for my lack of filter and for the ways I probably unintentionally hurt people But to say that because my life is damaged and broken and imperfect that I am an offense to Godwell I don't know how to take that I makes me want to never be around unsafe Christians again Jesus could handle the offensive people the prostitutes the tax collectors the duplicitous pharisees the dare I mention fuck sayers of the worldhe could handle them He told them where their mistakes were but he also told the righteous idiots to lay off to leave them alone to cast the stones if they themselves had not sinned So yes my life doesn't look textbook Christian but I hope that someday I can apologize to Jesus for that and know that his love will still encompass all that I am all that he created me to be I could be very flawed in this logic but again just hoping my heart will lead me in the right directionregardless it always leads me back to God so there's that


  3. says:

    I might come back and give this one 5 stars but I want to sit with it for a little longer before I do that I only give 5 stars to excellent books that are life changing and this just might be one of themWhat I loved I know the author through her blog but this is not a blogger's book It is a true memoir not a collection of essays and certainly not a padded glammed up collection of blog posts And like the author I grew up in the evangelical church and have a lot of baggage there especially boy baggage and I appreciated how the author was able to imbue events that may not sound super significant on the surface I dated a guy he turned out to be a jerk etc with the weight they deserved Typically with a memoir like this I'd like to see a little distance between the time of writing and the time of the events But this was a great read so I'll give it a pass Also as I recall Addie got a two book deal I'm really looking forward to hearing about book #2 which I will definitely be reading after this strong debut


  4. says:

    Well here's the thing I didn't really love this book But then again I read it in a span of less than 10 hours and that included going to Chick fil a and Wednesday night prayer meeting in between; how's that for irony?First of all let me get out of the way the things I didn't like1 the language sorry I just still can't get behind an f bomb no matter how edgy I'm feeling2 her constant shifting between you and first person3 the self centeredness of it all Lots of people have gone through what she's gone through Feeling awkward in high school Not getting the part you wanted in the play Heartbreak over high school boyfriends don't always lead to depression and near affairs later in life I get that this is memoir but it still felt a little juvenile to me Then again I had rock star parents who wisely told me from early on no one is thinking about you that much Lovingly you are not that special to the world Extreme self consciousness is a form of pride She has a lot going for her two dear life long friends an intact home life an education a loving husband So why so whiny?But for all that I could have written this book The author literally is exactly my age so her experiences with movements such as See You at the Pole and True Love Waits came at the same moments in my youthWhite I grew up Baptist and she Free Evangelical our experiences and apparently CD collections were identicalBut where she found loneliness and tinny emptiness I by God's grace found people who loved and taught and shepherded my heart Imperfect people yes Searching people yes Sometimes brash and annoying people But then again sometimes I am mean selfish insincere too blunt I feel she judges The Church People too harshly and by a standard she herself wouldn't live up to She mentions no one asked her if she was lonely But I don't see anywhere here where she would have had the interest or emotional maturity to notice someone else who was lonely in her drunken state She says in the Epilogue that there are no heroes or villains But I found Evangelicals who weren't completely comfortable in the presence of her uestioning alcoholic searching self absorbed days and years villianizedSo I guess it's not really the book I didn't like as much as the author whoops I judged I am getting a little weary of this whole the 90s Evangelicals had it so wrong and scarred me for life and now we've got it figured out so much better genre Read Lauren Winner instead Unless you want a watered down version of Donald Miller with some seriously fun inside Christian bookstore jokes


  5. says:

    Memoirs of faith and doubt are of special interest to me I wrote my Victorian Literature MA dissertation on women’s loss of faith narratives so I had high hopes – and Zierman didn’t disappoint with this terrific debut about her disillusionment with evangelical Christianity and the process of moving from cynicism to a new kind of sustainable faithSo much of Zierman’s story resonated with me Like her I was brought up in a strong Christian family “born again” at the age of five and spent my childhood and teen years in the bosom of Evangelicalism memorizing scripture verses for Awana club attending youth group Bible studies and Christian summer camp and becoming a massive fan of Christian contemporary music She writes about filling her shelves with Michael W Smith Newsboys DC Talk and Jars of Clay albums learning every word to Amy Grant’s Baby Baby album and attending an Insyderz Christian ska concert – that was me too In fact I think Zierman and I are exact contemporaries; we were both high school freshmen in 1997Zierman was a poster girl for Evangelicalism in her high school years One year she was or so she thought the only person to turn up in the pouring rain for the annual See You at the Pole prayer event She went on a summer Teen Mania missions trip to the Dominican Republic where she was a mime in a gospel presentation For goodness’ sake she even anointed a cafeteria table with cooking oilShe also had a string of what she calls “missionary boyfriends” especially Chris an emotionally manipulative youth group leader and Teen Mania intern Throughout Zierman suggests with hindsight there must have been a voice in the back of her mind telling her that this was all false and she was only fooling herself and wasting her time but she gave in to naïve conformism “I thought I was choosing something extraordinary I thought this would all turn out differently”Still Zierman continued on to attend a Christian college Northwestern in Minnesota Her two prim roommates turned her further off Evangelicals but her two best friends from high school Kim and Alissa sustained her even when far away She fell in love with Andrew and they married in the summer after their junior year He’s still her husband so he’s clearly not one of the things she left behind on the journey into doubtThe Ziermans spent a year teaching English in Pinghu China to fulfill Andrew’s international business reuirement Zierman was terribly lonely there – “the longer we stay here the I feel myself disappearing” – and that depression followed her back to the States and all through their uest at home and abroad to find meaningful communities and a church home “Maybe if I’d been able to stand up and talk about the darkness it would not have consumed me” she wonders but as it was no one seemed to truly see her They tried a big Evangelical church then a house church but everywhere they went people seemed superficial and judgmental No one noticed her pain “I am falling I am dead weight and there is no one to catch me” This was “loneliness deep and penetrating and unaffected by the presence of a husband or the stability of marriage” I know what she’s talking aboutThings got worse before they got better Zierman wanted to uit the house church even though Andrew loved it She started drinking and was tempted to have an affair with a guy she met at her local coffee shop But eventually she made her way out of depression through Christian therapy antidepressants and EMDR treatments marriage counselling a dog a home of their own and – despite the many ways she’d been hurt and let down by “Church People” over the years – a good enough church The darkness didn’t last foreverIf I have one complaint about this book it’s that the literary effects occasionally seem a bit forced Zierman shifts from past to present tense and from the first person though never the first person plural suggested by the title to the second person Initially this is uite disorienting though I can see that perhaps Zierman was doing it deliberately for the distancing effect – it’s a way of making the content less raw and also emphasizing that her past self was a different person As the book progresses these point of view changes become seamless such that you hardly notice them All the same at times I wanted Zierman to drop the literary tricks and just tell the storyNonetheless there was something very cathartic for me about reading this memoir It’s honest and doesn’t give pat answers; it fully acknowledges the ongoing pain of losing faith and the often silent struggle against loneliness and depression In the end Zierman’s faith journey is nothing that can be summed up in some trite three minute testimony; it’s a continuing story of turbulence with peaks and troughs “The future will be a mix of both of these things the devotion and the cynicism You have to find a way for them to coexist within you Let them destroy each other and your fragile faith may shatter entirely”I would recommend this book to anyone who has pushed – to any extent – against the boundaries of their faith but has decided they’re not ready to give up on it just yetA couple of other great books in this genre are Leaving Alexandria by Richard Holloway and Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor Some books that might help convince you that there’s something worth preserving from all Christianity’s nonsense are A New Kind of Christianity by Brian D McLaren The Heart of Christianity by Marcus J Borg Falling Upward by Richard Rohr Secrets in the Dark by Frederick Buechner and Anne Lamott’s popular theology memoirs I was delighted to win a First Reads giveaway copy


  6. says:

    When We Were On Fire is stunningly crafted and full of grace Our stories aren't exactly the same but my friend Addie and I both grew up in the evangelical subculture and we've both struggled to find our place in the church since then You could take the same subculture and string together words that wound Yet there are no bad guys here This is real life and it's reflected throughout the memoir It's gritty and sometimes the language is salty By naming and honoring the dark parts we let the light in Addie's writing is nothing but authentic and perhaps that's why it resonated so strongly with me Her words were a balm time and again I don't just love this book I adore it I want its truths to settle down deep in me


  7. says:

    Addie Zierman's memoir piued my curiosity because lately I've heard people talk about a Millennial migration away from church going Millennials aren't the first generation to stumble over church culture I know plenty of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who consider themselves spiritual but want nothing to do with organized religion I have my own experience too Many years ago when I first gave serious thought to following Christ one of the challenges I had to work through was having to hang out with church people So I was really curious to hear Audible edition what Ms Zierman had to say I have to be honest I expected bitterness Instead I encountered generosity and grace It's that perspective that makes When We Were on Fire a worthwhile read I'd go as far as saying this memoir is a must read for ministers of all stripes especially youth ministers and for parents who are raising their kids in church cultureMs Zierman makes it abundantly clear there's a difference between following Christ and immersing oneself in a culture At this point I could go on and on about what it means to be in the world and not of the world But you aren't reading this review to get a sermon on John 17 from me Suffice it to say When We Were on Fire is a great read to begin a journey of forgiving past offenses and rediscovering fellowship with the Lord and other believers It's an even better read to help one avoid taking offense in the first place


  8. says:

    I don’t want to be mean because this is an earnest book from a real place about a thing I have gone through and so have many others in my life So I will keep it to the very basicsWhat I wanted an earnest account of bizarro US teen evangelism in the 90s with some meat What drove the movements? How were they funded? How did they end or have they ended? Some bigger picture with a narrative structure to support itInstead this is a hyper personal account from someone who had a relatively pretty tame year of departure from her evangelical path and who has maintained her faith on the other side There’s maybe a beauty in that conceptually However the book suffers from very melodramatic writing and very micro anecdotes of conversations that take on a Babysitters Club tone at times If it had taken than a few hours to mostly skim I wouldn’t have finished it


  9. says:

    At some moments as I read Zierman's words I felt myself go rigid YES YES that's exactly how I felt I thought As someone who is recovering from many of the wounds of her evangelical upbringing this book gave me hope and perspective and a reminder that grace is extended to all A great read


  10. says:

    Remember WWJD bracelets? True Love Waits pledges? See You at the Pole events? If so you may have grown up in the 90'sWhile I didn't grow up in an Evangelical household I did grow up in those circles I had a bracelet signed a pledge and probably would have seen you at the pole had I not been homeschooled I knew everything that Addie spoke of in the beginning of her book What I don't know iswhat was the point? I either missed it entirely or there truly isn't one to the book Don't get me wrong it was an enjoyable read but several things stood out for me and bothered meFirst of all the constant back and forth between first and second person wasn't just confusing but downright annoying I've never seen a book written this way When I saw that Addie studied creative nonfiction in college I realized that she was trying too hard to be creative in the writing of this book It didn't work Not only that but at many points Addie was too good of a writer is that possible? and used so many filler paragraphs that seemed like a descriptive poem than a part of her story Some descriptions went on and on and on and added no value to the story Sometimes less really is The introduction of swearing halfway through the book didn't seem to fit eitherThere wasn't much about Addie's parents or home life in this book uite frankly from what I gathered from the book is that she became a Jesus freak not that she grew up in a household like that She seemed to follow these crowds at school and immerse herself into this lifestyle She chose this lifestyle herself Her life seems pretty ideal albeit a bit lonely at times So all of a sudden when she heads off to college and deems herself broken all because of a fairly tame high school breakup you wonder where that comes fromWhile I applaud her for her honestly throughout the next several chapters detailing some struggles in life I felt like she blamed her religious upbringing for them when they are struggles that people from all walks of life deal with and aren't even all that bad really compared to mostThe therapy sessions at the end of the book are what knocked me off my rocker Rehashing old boyfriend issues as a cause of your life struggles is so politically correct After finishing the book I'm still confused Was it a book about how her religion and boyfriend caused her depression as an adult? Or was it just a memoir showcasing the different stages of life? I like other reviewers feel like this is two books in onethe first half which I could relate to greatly dealing with the 90's WWJD movement and then the second half where she deals with marriage depression and motherhood; possibly blaming the latter on the first and losing many reads with that conclusion?I read it in an evening and did find it interesting I think many 90's kids could relate to the beginning of the book Disclaimer This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review