Author Jonathan Hickory holds book signing at Liberty University Bookstore
Scenes of suicide.
Jonathan E. Hickory saw it all from the bottom of a beer bottle.
Every time he remembered walking into a crime scene, he took another sip. Having been a police officer for 15 years, he thought he was used to seeing the grief and pain. However, with every new gruesome report, his disparaging worldview would thicken.
For 10 years, he drowned his sorrows in alcohol, hoping to crush the sense of despair that followed him home from work. He drank to crush the reality of his failing marriage, his depression and his suicidal thoughts.
He drank because he did not know what else to do.
Then God reached through the bottle, grabbed him by his collar and saved his soul.
“At my darkest moment, God took my darkness and shambles, my (almost) divorce … and when I had nothing left, turned darkness into light,” Hickory said.
Remembering all that God has done for him, Hickory decided to write a book. Titled “Break Every Chain,” it recounts how God freed him from his addictions and drew him back to his family — both earthly and spiritual.
What he writes is not pretty. Hickory throws his cards on the table. Every dirty, sinful part is written about — but so is every godly, transforming incident. Hickory visited the Liberty University Bookstore Saturday, Feb. 2 to share copies of his story at a book signing.
He hopes his life can be an example to other first responders and members of the military who are facing the emotional drain of the job. There is hope, he said. While the world can be wicked and cruel, God is not. These reminders of “the brokenness of humanity” are horrifying, but Jesus is so much bigger than all of them.
Even in the vilest circumstances, God manages to break through the chains of sin, pain and death to showcase his marvelous light.
“That is what God did for me,” Hickory said. “He broke my chains and freed me from bondage. He broke chains of alcoholism, anger, depression, lust, loss, worthlessness and a wicked tongue.”
Just as much as Hickory lost, God restored to him — his marriage, his whole life — “from the depths of despair and darkness.”
Lauded as “gripping” and showcasing “victory through the power of the Gospel” by Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and the son of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr., the book is well on its way to commercial success.
With its raw narration and painfully true lessons, the book has already garnered multiple awards, including the “Enduring Light” medal from the Illumination Book Awards and the “Best Addiction Book” from Book Authority.
Hickory’s only prayer is that God will use his book to change lives and save souls.
He wants his experiences to inspire others to persevere to the end and not grow discouraged. He also understand that people are tempted to pretend that everything is fine, even when they are actually falling apart. Despite the fact that everyone seems all prim and proper, they are probably broken and hurting, too. After all, Jesus did not die for the perfect.
“People don’t want to talk,” Hickory said. “We’re all broken and hurting. It’s okay to be broken.”
Hickory spoke to his brothers-in-arms, encouraging them to seek help if needed. He also warns readers to beware of the fruit the world has to offer — it may look appealing now, but the bite you take will rot your teeth and your soul.
“If you try to battle it alone and without faith, things of the world will fill that void … alcohol, drugs, sex,” Hickory said. “We have to be tough and stoic, but know that it’s okay to ask for help. If you trust your life to Jesus, you can not only survive, but thrive.”
“Break Every Chain” is available at various literary retail outlets, and Hickory will be back at the Liberty University Bookstore for another signing April 5 from 2-5 p.m.