09 Mar Six months without smoking, Then I blew it
Six Months Without Smoking, Then I Blew It…
I’ll never forget the last pull I had on a cigarette. Back in 2005, I had been in Teen Challenge for quite a while and was having a terrible day. We were out participating in a door-to-door fundraising activity in the suburbs of Long Island. Nothing went right about that day. Every attempt to raise money ended with one resounding no after the next. To make it worse my fundraising partner was just altogether angry at life in general. My day was conspiring against me to make sure nothing went right.
After a few more hours of misery and rejection from every house I went to, I found myself in a conversation with my fundraising partner about how nice it would be to have a cigarette. It seemed that after of 6 months of not smoking this stress was enough to merit breaking the streak.
After a few more houses my fundraising partner chased me down with a lit cigarette in his hand and informed me he had been successful in finding one.
Without a second thought, I grabbed the cigarette from him, took two pulls off of it, dropped it and paused.
The unthinkable had happened. I felt terrible.
Yes, I experienced the lightheaded rush that comes after not smoking for a while. But this was deeper than this. This was something I hadn’t felt before.
I couldn’t believe what I had done.
I didn’t knock on any more doors that day, I spent the rest of the day just walking around the neighborhood contemplating the possible consequences of my poor choice.
That evening we all went out for dinner. I didn’t speak to anyone, I sat in the corner of the restaurant and did nothing.
I need to pause here and address what you’re potentially thinking. Most people would read through an article like this and ask “What is the big deal? It’s just tobacco.”
I mean it’s not like you relapsed and used meth, God certainly isn’t angry at you for one slip up.
Telling the rest of the story
While that is all true..the rest of my story goes a little further than that. My battle with addiction didn’t start with Methamphetamine. My story began when I was 13 years old and I would go door to door in the college neighborhood and bum tobacco from the college students, go and smoke in the woods and cover myself with cheap cologne before returning home in hopes that my parents wouldn’t find out.
I began to get consumed with this idea of smoking and it became something that I went from doing for fun to something that began a daily routine.
I wasn’t born an addict, nor did I catch addiction as a disease from these college students that were smoking and drinking away their college years.
I learned the simple truth that even sin in pleasurable for a season. There was excitement, a rush in knocking on doors and bumming smokes. There was a rush in hiding the smoking and seeing if I could get away with it. The rush was followed up with guilt when my parents would question me over the mixture of cheap cologne and cigarette smoke.
Over time those feelings of guilt, also known as conviction weren’t as strong as they used to be. I eventually got to the place where I could ignore the guilt completely and smoking cigarettes just became a part of my life.
So after finally getting free from Meth, Cigarettes, and everything else I battled with here I am, sitting in the corner of a restaurant feeling terrible.
Maybe it was the memories of going door to door as a teenager and bumming cigarettes that flooded my memories after being out knocking on doors all day and slipping up again. I know that part of it was the sinking feeling of knowing that I blew it.
The next 2 days were even worse.
I thought about my recourse to deal with this internal guilt.
“Maybe if I just confess this to God I can move on.” “No one will know about it, there isn’t any need to speak up.”
Yet I remembered reading a few scriptures that really impacted me over the last 6 months and I didn’t want to be the same guy anymore.
You know the guy I am talking about.
Maybe you have been him before. The guy that always found a way to justify my sin. The guy that always looked the other way when things went wrong and blamed circumstances for his poor choices.
I had enough of him.
Two days later I decided to leave that guy behind once and for all.
I found a Pastor on the campus that day and came completely and totally clean for my slip up.
I was blown away when my confession and humility was met with mercy by the leader. The Bible talks about this.
Proverbs 28:13 – Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
This wasn’t about nicotine only. This was about finally getting victory over a master that had controlled my life.
This was also about re-learning to respond to those feelings of guilt and conviction that challenged me to correct a behavior before it went too far.
This was about learning to respond to that voice inside that confronted me when I made a poor choice. Anyone that lives in addiction understands that after a while that voice gets so quiet it almost becomes non-existent.
From that day forward anytime there was a temptation to smoke it was much easier to recognize what was coming and finding the way of escape was much easier.
It was about finally getting serious about experiencing all the freedom that Christ had to offer me.
I’ve not smoked another cigarette since that day.
Today my goal is to live life like the Apostle Paul:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
I hope you will strive to live your life the same.