Have you ever had a habit that you didn’t think you could ever walk away from? I did. I smoked for 28 years. I had attempted to quit smoking several times but was never able to break away from the addictive behavior. Rarely do you find an educated adult decide to start smoking. Unfortunately, I started smoking when I was a kid.
I was an unlikely smoking candidate because I used to HATE when my parents would smoke in the car. I remember complaining all of the time that the smoke made my hair stink. Whine. Whine. Whine. Yet, as a teenager I found myself succumbing to peer pressure, where I coughed my way into the Cool Kids Club.
It was so unbelievable that I would smoke, when my mom found the cigarette box in my pocket, she totally believed the lie I told her. “They’re Lori’s.” (Sorry Lori!) I told my parents that Lori asked me to hold them for her because she didn’t want to get in trouble from her parents for having them. Bold faced lie. Horrible. I know. Anyhow, that is how my cigarette addiction began.
I did (mostly) quit smoking when I was pregnant with my son. When I was pregnant it made me sick to smoke. I’m grateful for that because I might not have quit smoking even if I would have wanted to for my son’s health. Because I got deathly ill whenever I would try to inhale, I ceased being puff the magic dragon for a few months.
After my son was born, I began smoking again one fateful drive downtown. I about crashed my car on the Eden’s Expressway as I was driving my son to Children’s Memorial for surgery. I was shaking so much I stupidly asked the person next to me if I could have one of his cigarettes. There went my clean lungs – up in smoke.
I tried several times over the years to stop smoking. I never could break away from the habit. One time I “successfully” ceased smoking for about a month. I was so cranky and stressed out my manager suggested I start smoking again!
The longer I attended church, the more I became convicted about my smoking. No one ever said anything to me, but I knew smoking was not healthy and I was contaminating my temple. For the longest time, I hid smoking from my church friends.
When I first met my husband, I didn’t want him to know I smoked cigarettes. He was a Christian and I didn’t want him not to date me because of my bad habit. He knew but didn’t reveal that to me right away. We met for a date and I didn’t smoke in front of him. Afterward, we both had to drive the same way home. I was dying for a cigarette, but Sam was following so closely behind me that I knew he would see the red glow of the cigarette if I lit one up. The rotten little scoundrel later told me he did this on purpose. Turkey! I abstained from smoking until Sam was no longer behind my vehicle. Later, he asked me if I smoked. I was nervous. Unlike when I was a teenager, I told the truth this time. “Yes. I smoke.”
The life of a former Cool Kid’s Club Member had become a little less glamorous. We went to a Fourth of July picnic to watch fireworks with friends from our church. I hid, in the bushes for crying out loud, to sneak my secret smoking addiction. (Smile) Later, I told my pastor and his wife and they got a giggle out of it. Mind you, no one put these pressures on me to quit. No one said you must quit smoking or we’re banning you entrance to the church. But God was dealing with me, burdening my heart, on this whole smoking situation.
Later, I went to watch my now-husband compete in an IronMan. If you don’t know what that is, don’t feel bad. I had no idea what it was either. I remember how I thought these people are crazy! They swim 2.1 miles in open water, bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon (26.2 miles) – all in the same day. Who does that? Here I am standing in front of a hotel puffing away and I am surrounded by a bunch of intense fitness fanatics! I felt a little guilty contaminating their breathing air. Not guilty enough to quit smoking yet, mind you.
God was chipping away at my desire to smoke, little by little. I heard a sermon from Joyce Meyer where she talked about how she was smoking cigarettes (guilty), wearing short shorts (guilty), all while teaching a Bible study (guilty again). She said God had impressed upon her that He wouldn’t be able to use her in the capacity He wanted if she continued to smoke. It’s not like you see pastors up on the platform puffing away. I got the point. I knew God was using Joyce’s sermon to impart the same truth to me. God wanted to use me, but He was going to need me to quit smoking.
Shortly thereafter I prayed to God. I asked God for his help. I told Him there was no way I would be able to quit smoking on my own. None! I told Him I needed Him to do it for me. I reminded God how I had tried over the years and had never been successful. I would only be able to quit if God took the desire away from me.
I came into the house (after finishing a cigarette, mind you) and told Sam, “I’m going to quit smoking.” I never picked up a cigarette again. Sam actually forgot I quit. My behavior did not change. My mood didn’t get testy. I didn’t gain weight. I didn’t go through any withdrawal symptoms. God miraculously lifted any desire to smoke. After 28 years of bondage, God gave me freedom. I was free to breathe easy!
It really was a miraculous healing. If you’ve ever struggled with a smoking addiction, you know it is not something you easily walk away from. God’s power and strength made it easy. I am very grateful that He took the desire from me. Every time I think about cigarettes, I thank God that He helped me to quit!
And little did I know He was laying the foundation for bigger things to come.
Have you ever struggled with a smoking addiction?
Were you able to quit? How?
Have you ever experienced a miraculous answer to prayer? How?