By Nadia Smith
On Tuesday, a handful of Trevecca students and staff gathered in Waggoner Library to hear author Addie Zierman read excerpts of her book “When We Were on Fire.”
“When We Were on Fire” is a coming of age memoir about Zierman trying to untangle herself from the Jesus freak, us-versus-them culture of the 90s and the struggles that she faced while trying to redefine her faith as an adult.
Sarah Keil, Instruction and Serials Librarian, organized the event for Trevecca.
“I happened to come across on Facebook that she was interested in finding somewhere in Nashville to do a reading so I emailed her and set
it all up,” Keil said. “I read Addie’s book back in the fall after it first came out and I thought her story was very applicable to students at Trevecca.”
Zierman opened up to the audience about how even though she was very involved in her church growing up, she always felt alone. She talked about succumbing to clichés of Christianity, such as wearing several WWJD bracelets, leading as many Bible studies as possible, and exclusively listening to Christian music. She was a young teenager when she began to slip away from God and started to question her faith.
“For me, possibly, the Christian culture on its own might not have been that big of a deal if it was just the culture itself,” Zierman said. “Three things sort of collided into one perfect explosion in my life. One was the Christian culture. The other was just being a teenager and that sort of youthful naivety slash I know everythingness, and then first love with a boy who was also sort of head over heels into this youth culture. That’s where my story really took a turn from just growing up a church kid to growing up on fire for God.”
Becoming on fire for God was not easy for Zierman. She struggled with depression and alcoholism along the way.
It was not until she went to grad school for memoir writing and was forced to delve into her past through assignments that she was able to overcome her problems.
“At the time when I would like most to run away from God and have nothing to do with Him, I couldn’t. I was forced by writing assignments into these places in my past. During those pre-writes in those months, I began to sort of disassemble these clichés I built my life around,” Zierman said.
Zierman’s story is one that many people can relate to.
For Trevecca freshman, Bethany Winz, the story had her in tears and kept her up until four in the morning reading.
“It was honest and I think that helped me identify with it,” Winz said. “She wrote a lot of it in second person and I could relate to a lot of it from my life growing up. It was like putting me in the story.”
In the future Zierman plans to write another book.
“I am writing another memoir. I hope that I have enough interesting things to say in there. I’m just keeping my eyes open and thinking about my life and looking for ways to add to it,” said Zierman.