What Naughty Little Secret Could this Book Editor for Famous Pastors Be Keeping?
Heather Kopp remembers the twelve years she hid her drinking problem from everyone in her family and profession. She says, “I was a very high functioning alcoholic. I was so good at the façade. I’m an editor for famous pastors. I am working on their books during the day; they’re trying to save the world, and at night I am starting to be blotto drunk every night. And I start to feel like I'm living a double life.
I wanted to look good. I wanted to be a strong Christian. I wanted to be an example. But there was also always the underlying shame about the fact that that personally and at home I often felt like a failure.”
She continues, “I think I did have a lot of feelings that I did not want to feel. At the very beginning you know, alcohol worked for me to just relax me and it just grew and grew and grew. During the first year of our marriage I was already hiding alcohol in the garage and I began to keep a stash for those times when I was desperate for more and didn’t want Dave to know.”
Heather’s husband Dave recalls what their marriage was like, “There was something about her reaction to alcohol that made her an angry person. She was not a pleasant person to be around when she was drinking. She was just really out of control.”
Heather says, “When you wake up in the morning and you can't remember anything after 7 PM is scary because it's like, ‘What was the person doing? What if she decided to get a car and kill someone?’”
“And I would just hate myself.” She says, “I would just look in the mirror and hate myself. That craving was always so intense and it was something my husband could not even relate to or understand why I couldn't seem to stop.”
“Our marriage was on the rocks more than we knew.” Says Dave, “I think it was very difficult for Heather to say, ‘I have a drinking problem’ or much less, ‘I’m an alcoholic.’”
Heather knew she was struggling. “I can't tell you how many times I went forward in church or just alone in my bedroom my knees and would just beg God to help me, and repent of it and determine that tomorrow that this isn’t going to happen again.”
But she felt trapped. “My shame was so great I was convinced that if I came out and told the truth that shame I felt in secret would be so huge it would kill me. I thought I would die of shame if people knew the truth. And what I began to do was beg God for a miracle, for deliverance. I would tell God ‘I know You can do this people get delivered from addictions of the foot of the cross. It happens all the time.’ But it was not until I was a hopeless alcoholic that I ever truly came to the end of myself, and fully understood that I couldn't save myself. My utter need for saving was real for the very first time.”
Heather says something began to change. “Something was happening spiritually and I knew it; and I began to sob and wail and to beg God for help. I was sobbing like one of my kids had died. And I knew deep in my soul I was surrendering. That line I've been trying to cross and trying to cross that somehow God was reaching in and helping me surrender. Helping me actually finally surrender.”
“Shame had been telling me a lie, and I had bought it. And when I came into the light and told the truth and was willing to let the world know, it was the hugest relief. It was such a relief. I was just like… once you surrender your pride then you don't have to protect it anymore. And all that shame, instead of being intensified was relieved and I was set free. And I begin to connect with God in prayer, and in quiet. And give Him access to my soul so He can do for me through His Holy Spirit things that I can't do for myself.”
“It’s really about giving up on ourselves and asking God to do what only He can do. “ Says Dave, “When she went into rehab and then became active in twelve step groups and has continued in that, our lives changed so radically. We cleaned out the house and we don’t have alcohol in the house now and our life has changed in a way that is a beautiful thing.”
“There was a complete switch in recovery,” says Heather, “to understanding that God works in my weakness. And there's a deep humility that I get to have in knowing that only He can actually bring about the transformation, the ongoing transformation that I so wanted.”
“I see Jesus in her. She’s a different person.” Says Dave, “And I know that she couldn’t have gotten there without getting sober. I think it’s God at work, it’s God at work through her.”
Heather says there is hope for people hiding in shame like she was. “God in his great mercy will reach into a man or woman's life and help them if they ask for help. I now get to experience a miracle every single day. Every day I live in dependence upon God in a way I had never before. Never. And I've learned to love that need to be little desperate for God every day. It's very, very powerful.”