Addiction is a cruel, manipulative master and being a Christian addict adds a whole new dimension of guilt to the mix. Today I celebrate 8 years smoke free. In honor of the anniversary of my freedom, I’d like to revisit a post I wrote a few years ago.
While my story won’t provide a magic formula that tells others how to climb out of the muck, I hope it encourages everyone that our God sees us, and will meet us exactly where we need him to. May we all be reminded today that our gracious Father can bring insight, growth, and beauty out of all things…even our fears and our frailties.
Grace and peace to you.
“I had a very, very bad dream!” My 6 year old daughter climbed into my lap and looked up at me, tears clinging to her long dark lashes. “I dreamed you went away and couldn’t come back.” She sniffled and snuggled in closer. She was obviously devastated, but then, so was I. You see, I had just received word from my doctor’s office. There was a mass in my throat and, with a long history of nicotine addiction, I was scared. I had quit smoking again two weeks earlier and I couldn’t help but wonder if I had quit just a little too late.
I could not get in to see the specialist for 6 days and would have to wait several days more for a biopsy to be done. Then, of course, the final results would surely take time as well. All in all, I was looking at two weeks of uncertainty. A lifetime.
What if it was cancerous? Would I have to have surgery? Lose my hair? Lose my ability to speak at all? Or what if it was really too late? What if my stubborn refusal to quit sooner actually killed me? I had 4 young children to finish raising. A husband who is the love of my life—14 years together was not nearly enough time. There was too much to do—projects uncompleted, adventures not yet embarked on and passions yet to be discovered…
As I pondered these thoughts obsessively for a couple of days I realized that, for me, it really came down to one simple question. Do I believe—really believe that the God I serve loves me and my family? If I do, then I would have to conclude that even if He decided to take me from this earth early, that He would be doing so with the welfare of my family in mind. Could I accept that? Could I trust that He would walk them through such a thing and use it for good? That He could bring beauty from the ashes of a torn family?
The answer, I found, was a resounding yes. And so, while those days were hard, they became some of the sweetest days I have ever known. I felt sure that regardless of the outcome, my God had it all under control.
I looked at everyone differently during those waiting days. My husband and children were wonders to enjoy. The mundane things in life had no place in my mind. There were more important things to marvel at. I felt complete peace—the mystical peace that passes all human understanding which is promised to me as a child of the Most High. It was intoxicating.
This week I celebrate 5 years smoke-free. It is interesting to note that I haven’t wanted to smoke since that time. Oh, every now and again it has sounded or smelled good, but I haven’t wanted a cigarette. That awful, agonizing, soul churning NEED—the internal war that raged unceasingly for over 20 years was just…gone. It was simply no longer worth it.
What I can see so clearly today is that what it says repeatedly in Romans is absolutely true. Sin has no dominion over me. (Rom. 6:6 and 6:14) But before I could own this truth, my vision had to change. Once it was no longer worth doing, quitting smoking was no longer hard.
Will it be like this for everyone? I’m sure it won’t. What I do know is that my God is individualized. He meets each of us where we need it. I am grateful that the results of my tests were fine, but I find myself even more grateful for that short season of waiting. A time of waiting and wrestling that my Lord knew I needed. A waiting time that forced me to prioritize my life a little differently than before.
Photo by redbranch, at bigstockphoto.com