Book Review // Comfort Detox by Erin Straza

Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom From Habits that Bind You is the first book from author Erin Straza.*  Erin’s style is both personal and pastoral. She weaves stories from her life with teaching from the Scriptures in order to encourage others to go “all in” in serving others, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

Erin’s use of her own experience is a strength of this book. Erin lets the reader inside her own journey of having her heart shredded which led to the primary, and powerful, four-word question that is throughout the book: What am I doing?

The question – What am I doing? –  prompts self-reflection and increased self-awareness which is connected to intentional living. As a Christian, Erin connects intentional living with God’s mission in the world.

Another strength of the book is the Comfort Cleanse work at the end of each chapter. This part of the book moves the reader from the posture of a learner to the posture of a practitioner. Each Comfort Cleanse exercise invites the reader to join Erin on a journey towards living courageously and intentionally in the world?

Please read this book slowly. You will get more out of it if you take some time for self-reflection and to work through the Comfort Cleanse sections.  You may also benefit from reading Comfort Detox with others.

My favorite chapter is chapter five. In chapter five – entitled The Comforter –  Erin talks about the Holy Spirit.  She asks the poignant question, “What difference would it make if you practiced the habit of depending on the comforter?”  Erin is not just encouraging people to deconstruct their lives which are based on seeking personal comfort and avoiding pain. Erin encourages reconstruction, too.  She writes:

With some heart clutter now cleared away, we have room to put on new habits, new behaviors, and new truths rooted in God’s truth. …the sort of comfort we’re familiar with has skewed how we see the real thing. True comfort is foreign, unfamiliar – so much so that we don’t quite know what we’re looking for. (100)

My primary critique involves some of the exegetical work around particular texts. As an Anabaptist, I approach some of the texts in different ways. I believe Erin’s treatment of the texts in the book is consistent with conservative, orthodox, evangelical interpretations. My differences are of degree and emphasis, not truth vs. error.  So I won’t drive us into the weeds with details.

Overall, this is a positive book, rooted in a deep desire to walk faithfully with Jesus in a broken world. It is full of hope and dares to plot a course to a better world. Not a world you watch from the sidelines as you sip your favorite drink. But a world that you participate in as you join with God who is making all things new. This is not an easy path, but one rich with God’s comfort, care and presence.

You can find additional resources here.  You can purchase the book by hitting the picture in this post.


*Disclosure: Erin is my sister-in-law. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for writing a review.

Who are you and why are you here?

I am not questioning why you are on this blog.   I am inviting you to ask who am I and what is my purpose is in the world.  Without clear answers to those questions, your impact on the world around you will be haphazard at best.

In the world of pastoring and church leadership, it is, unfortunately, rare to find leaders who can clearly answer these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What gifts do I possess?
  • Who do I serve?
  • What am I worth?

Unfortunately, without clear answers to those questions, pastors and leaders end up chasing after approval or devoting too much time to things that are off-purpose.  This is why many pastors and church leaders find themselves at the whims of anyone in the congregation that expresses an opinion and/or desire (especially if expressed negatively).

Why does that happen? Because without clear answers to those questions, there is no way for pastors/leaders to evaluate what is being asked of them. There is no way for pastors/leaders to say no to the request.  Consequently, they say yes to things that don’t further their mission, they say yes to things that pull them away from their gifts/strengths, and their focus becomes blurry.

There is a poignant moment in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus explains his mission through the cross clearly. Peter attempts to stand in the way of that mission.   In response, Jesus clearly defines Peter’s attempt to derail his mission as the work of the adversary. Jesus then calls his disciples to clear and focused following (Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me).

Jesus had a clear sense of who he was and what he was here to do. That freed him up to respond to what others were asking of him without apology. If what they were asking furthered his mission then the answer was yes. If it didn’t, he said no.

Pastors and church leaders increasingly need that kind of clarity and focus. As the world becomes more chaotic, and societal anxiety rises, pastors and church leaders will need clarity of self, gifts and purpose to respond effectively to all that is required in this present moment.