When We Were On Fire: A Review

Moment of confession: I haven’t done a “book review” since college. This is not because I haven’t read anything worth reviewing since then, but simply because when I read a book with the intention of reviewing, I’m generally unable to fully engage with and enjoy what I’m reading.

This all changed when I read “When We Were On Fire.”

I first stumbled across Addie Zierman on twitter. To be honest, I’m not even really sure how we connected, but at some point, I began following her, she followed back, etc. etc. 

Addie’s blog is raw, honest, and transparent, so pre-ordering her book was a no-brainer.

To be honest, I’m not even sure how to review Addie’s book. My copy is highlighted, dog-eared, and the margins are filled with notes and my own utterings of, “Yes, So True, Amazing.” Those of us that grew up in the ‘90’s subculture all went through what we liked to call our “on fire” phase. What that looked like for each of us was different, but it was transformative, and for us, meaningful. It meant something different for everyone, and this is simply one person’s story, but I found so much of my own story present here.

So instead of trying to put into words what Addie’s book meant to me, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite passages.

“And here is my secret: I wanted this. I wanted to the empty courtyard, the chance to be a solitary figure at the pole. To be the only one bold enough, brave enough, passionate enough to stand in the rain for Jesus.” (Pg 5)

“You did not touch the missionary’s artifacts that day. Was it just about the unfamiliar snake scales that you feared? Or did you avoid touching the skin because you knew you would be marked for it – the  missionary life? That God would ask you to go, and you would have to listen, or you could end up punished, Jonah-style, in the belly of some whale?  Did you pray in those fearful folding-chair moments?  Beg God not to make you a missionary?” (Pg 17)

“ ‘Now that Christ is in my life, I have purpose and I have a friend who will never leave me. I know that I will never have to be lonely again.’ You don’t realize that you are lying to them, at least about the lonely part. You don’t realize that you’re lying to yourself.” (Pg 46)

“How could they know that it had taken only two girls to welcome me into the evangelical world all those years ago in junior high? That just easily, two girls could push me away from it.” (Pg 105)

“This is another thing about depression: it seems to exist somewhere outside of language, and I cannot wrangle it. I can’t seem to wrestle it into a manageable size using the thing I have always been able to use: words. I reach into the great cloud of unnamed feelings, but no matter how I try, I can’t find the one true thing.” (Pg 159)

“You find the small slivers of light, and you hunker down in them. You hole up in the still warmth of this kind of beauty and you wait, knowing that the beams will get wider and wider every day. Knowing that one day, you will wake into the full power of the sun, and you will finally be warm.” (Pg 181)

“Your life AFTER Christ is not static or an end result. You are not suspended in grace above the fray of life. You are looking at God through a kaleidoscope. Your life moves, and the beads shift, and something new emerges…you are in motion, in transit, in flux. You will be sad. You will be happy. You will love and doubt and cry and rage, and all of it matters. You are human, and you are beloved, and this is what it is to be Alive.” (Pg 229)

I could go on and on. I’m already looking forward to reading it again. Finishing it felt like getting up from coffee with an old friend, not wanting to part. I didn’t want to leave. It meant so much to me, how could I possibly explain it’s significance to anyone else?

After gushing on twitter endlessly, I connected with Addie, and she’s agreed to let me give away a copy.  

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below with your email address. I’ll pick a winner on Friday 11/1.

All this to say, buy her book. Buy two copies and give one away. Buy ten copies and give them all away. 

Finally, make sure to follow Addie on twitter (@addiezierman) and read her blog at www.addiezierman.com






  1. “ ‘Now that Christ is in my life, I have purpose and I have a friend who will never leave me. I know that I will never have to be lonely again.’ You don’t realize that you are lying to them, at least about the lonely part. You don’t realize that you’re lying to yourself.” (Pg 46)

    This is so good! And so true! Would love to have a copy of her book.

  2. This book sounds incredible. I really think that between youth group and parental ignorance (unintentional but ignorance nonetheless) so many of us who grew up in church in the 90s really missed the Gospel entirely. Chandler talks about this extensively and I tend to agree. I was born on the pew, said the sinner’s prayer frequently from the age of 3 but I was not born again until I was 23. Kinda wild. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to reading the book!

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