The Deep Down Things: Practices for Growing Hope in Times of Despair – Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines

The Deep Down Things: Practices for Growing Hope in Times of Despair by Amber C. Haines, Seth Haines
Published by Brazos Press on October 17, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Memoir
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There's no escaping Everyone experiences seasons of pain and despair. In 2019, when Amber Haines resigned from her position as church curate and walked out the church doors for the last time, she entered into her own season of pain and despair. That season taught her--and her husband, Seth Haines--that the journey toward hope starts with recognizing "the deep down things."

In The Deep Down Things , Amber and Seth point to a simple Even in the darkest times, there are tangible signs of hope all around us. The authors demonstrate how tasting, touching, feeling, holding, and participating in these tangible acts of hope picks us up, builds our strength, and moves us into beauty, even in times of despair. They invite readers to participate with those signs of hope and thereby experience the divine love of God, even in the struggle of their everyday lives.

A lifeline for those who desperately need it, this book helps readers overcome despair, find hope, and spread that hope to an aching world.

In this raw, personal book, Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines reflect on difficult times they have weathered together, sharing insights about how they have found hard-won solace during times of suffering. Amber reflects on her experience of sexual harassment and spiritual abuse in the church, writing about how difficult it was for her to leave her ordination process and face the ways that her church failed to support and affirm her when she spoke out about the abuse. She and Seth also write about his journey overcoming addiction, and about other challenging experiences they have gone through together. They also write about their journey into Catholicism, reflecting on ways that their beliefs have evolved over time.

Amber and Seth are both eloquent writers, and they share heartfelt, personal reflections that many people will relate to. I appreciate their honesty and depth, and they share helpful insights about practices they have found helpful. Some of these are specifically spiritual, such as choosing a patron saint, receiving communion, and visiting a sacred space, while others are more general, such as pursuing forgiveness from others and “naming the knots” of your difficult emotions. This book will appeal to people who are burnt out on typical self-help books, but who still want to anchor themselves with healing practices and grow from other people’s wisdom.

The Deep Down Things features nine chapters, and each one starts with Seth’s writing and ends with Amber’s writing. Instead of trading off chapters or trying to merge their authorial voices into one, they each wrote a self-contained reflection for the same topic. I like this approach, but the book becomes repetitive at times, since some of their stories and explanations overlap, and since they often restate details from previous chapters in later ones. In addition to this, I felt like I was supposed to already “know” Amber and Seth from their previous books or online presence. I appreciated their deeply personal writing, but I frequently felt like I was missing context and was supposed to already be invested in the authors’ lives.

The Deep Down Things: Practices for Growing Hope in Times of Despair is a thoughtful, unique book. and I would recommend it to people who are interested in reflections on overcoming trauma, finding hope in difficult seasons, and connecting with God through embodied spirituality. Because so much of this book involves the authors’ lives and personal experiences, this is much more of a memoir than a Christian living book, and people’s mileage with this will vary based on their existing familiarity with the authors and how much they relate to their lives. Nonetheless, this book is full of heartfelt wisdom and encouragement for persevering in faith during times of hardship.