One Year

On Wednesday, April 18, 2007 at 3:15am I smoked a cigarette.

One little cigarette? Yup. My first? Not by any WILD stretch of your imagination! Try Quabiltrilionith. I started smoking about 6 weeks before the end of my junior year in high school. So about the same time of year, but 11 years before.

Eleven. Not a very big number. 40ish. Still not a very biggish number. 11 x 365 x 40ISH = really, really, REALLY big number that I can’t even count to…quabiltrillionith. The ish is important to note, too, because while there WERE days in which the 40ish was closer to 0ish, there were also days in which the 40ish was closer to 400ish. (Ok not quite that many, but you get the idea.)

But one? 1. Just 1. That? That’s an even bigger number. Turns out that number is all it took to squash and slaughter all those not-so-big, biggish, and super-ginormous numbers ONCE and for all.

One. The One. Jesus Christ. Lord of lords. King of kings. My bestest ever friend in the whole ginormous universe (He made it after all!). My One is bigger and more powerful than all the other numbers….to infinity AND BEYOND.

That one cigarette at 3:15am April 18, 2007 became the LAST one…because of THE One. And now? It is one year later, and so I’m remembering the victory I had and have in Jesus.

Yuppers, skippers. One year ago, Jesus quit the cigarettes for me. That’s a funny way of saying it, you say. Maybe it sounds that way at first, but it’s the truth. See it was like this…

For months I tried, REALLY tried to quit. I tried cutting back, limiting myself how many I had…or where…or when. I wanted to quit so bad. I cried. I prayed. I cried some more. I tried only taking a drag or two, and then stamping it out thinking the imagery of me stamping out my sin would help me to not want it so much.

Yeah right. That worked about as well as writing a note to the elephant that just stepped on your foot to “please won’t you be so kind as to get off my foot” and then putting said note in your mouth, chewing it and swallowing it. In this made-up scenario you are not only not addressing the issue (the elephant causing you pain!), you are just being plain stupid in even thinking for a moment that internalizing (by eating) your solution (the note) you will achieve the desired results (elephant getting OFF!).

Sin is like that, I discovered. If you internalize your own silly solution and try to quit in your own power without even addressing the real sin itself it stubbornly refuses to move.

Smoking is a sin. I seriously grew up knowing it was bad. At least as a little kid. As I got older though I seriously grew up thinking it wasn’t that bad. After all the bible doesn’t even say it is bad. Not that I knew that mind you…I had no way of knowing that cause I had never READ the bible…but I’d heard people -smokers- SAY that, and so I accepted their truth -twisted though it was- as my truth. Sadder still? I learned that from someone in direct leadership over me. Nuff said.

Anyway. I had grown to the point in my smoking journey that I had finally decided it was bad. I still didn’t necessarily think it was HORRID, but just not good. I didn’t like that my smoking kept me from having friends over. I didn’t like that my smoking kept my KIDS from having friends over. (Several friends’ parents forbade them from coming in our house because of the smoke. Smart move on their part, actually, but it still hurt.) I didn’t like that people thought I was less of a person for smoking or that people (non-smokers) would stare at me, make rude remarks to their companions, and maybe even made ugly faces or gestures…all because I smoked.

How dare them, I thought? It’s my right to smoke.

Well, sorta. I do have liberty in Christ…that is to say I do have free will. Technically speaking I am CAPABLE of doing whatever I want…so yes I CAN. But “can” does NOT blanket-across-the-board mean “should”. Nope. No way. Common sense will tell you that. Yes we CAN kill someone because they called us a dirty word. Should we, though? No-brainer, right?

So while I had the “right” to smoke (nobody could MAKE me stop), I shouldn’t have exercised that “right”. Not because I was somehow offending those rude people and their “rights”, though I likely was and that’s not good either, but because in so doing I was offending God. My very bestest ever friend. The original (and only TRUE) HE-man, Master of the Universe (and beyond!). God wants us to take care of our bodies. He wants us to stay away from even the appearance of evil, lest other people decide to NOT trust God because of our lousy testimony. Do we fail? Do I? Absolutely! We are all fallen sinners, whose righteousness is like filthy rags. Our best is NEVER good enough. But we are supposed to try.

I hadn’t been trying very hard to take care of my body. I hadn’t been trying very hard to live a clean, healthy life for myself…or for my kids…or my neighbors…or the rude non-smokers. Why should I care about them? Because God says we are supposed to. I’m supposed to strive to live a godly life not just for God (though that is reason enough!) but also as an example for others. I’m supposed to strive to be a shining light in a dark and scary world. A beacon of hope to those who are hurting because of sin. Why? Because I am their hope? Not a chance. Because their hope, their ONE and ONLY hope is Jesus. And if my light shines brightly enough, they will be drawn to it, and then I can gently whisper to them…

“It’s Jesus. Jesus did it. He’s the One. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. You can have victory in Jesus, too. Here’s how…”

One is not the loneliest number…it’s the BIGGEST and FULLEST.

To anyone who is trying to quit tobacco or is thinking about it: One specific thing that really helped? Realizing and accepting that while the smoking(dipping/chewing) is bad/wrong (a sin), the WANT to isn’t.

I wasn’t doing something wrong by being tempted. I was doing something wrong in feeding the temptation. When I finally figured that out I realized that this whole quitting thing was WAY beyond my strength and capability. I was way too weak to NOT break down and smoke. I didn’t like being weak. That went against the grain. I wanted to be strong…do it on my own…I can do this, I’m tougher, I’m stronger, I just need to suck it up and have more willpower. I, I, I, I. I was the problem. I would never make it, because I was too weak.

Admitting that was the key, I think. Once I did that, I left it with Jesus. I remembered that while I am weak, He is strong. I basically just said, “Lord, if I’m going to quit smoking and become a non-smoker, You’re going to have to do it. I can’t. I’ve tried and failed. I’m not strong enough.” Then I left it. Completely and totally. I LET Him do it, as opposed to asking Him to and then trying to do it on my own again. It started with realizing I was human and subject to wanting things that aren’t always good for me…realizing that the secret to having victory wasn’t in not WANTING them anymore, but in not taking them. Have I wanted a cigarette in the last year? Absolutely! Have I had one? Absolutely NOT! Why not? Because MY willpower is that strong, because I’m that self-disciplined and good? Nope. When I want one, I just step back and let Jesus go to bat for me. HE keeps me from smoking.

Wanna know something else really totally cool? He can bring the victory even when it seems impossible. One year ago this house was home to 4 heavy smokers, me being one of them, of course. So let’s look at my victory another way…

Eleven-year heavy smoker living with 3 other heavy smokers (anywhere from 3o-50 years a piece) smokes a cigarette at 3:15am, goes to bed, and wakes up to not smoke again. No pills. No patches. No gums. No support groups. (Though absolutely use those things if they will help you!! Nothing wrong with them at all. They just weren’t available for me…turns out I didn’t need those weapons anyway.) Does it painlessly and even easily. Miracle? You decide.

“When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 20:1

“And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S…”
1 Samuel 17:47


2 Responses to “One Year”

  1. 1 Sonya April 21, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Wow! That was very touching and good for you. I can only imagine what a hard journey this has been for you. I think it is amazing what strength we can receive from our Savior. I admire your courage :).

  2. 2 smurfytxmom April 21, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks, Sonya. It really is amazing, isn’t it? I think it’s because He is. Amazing, I mean. =) He never ceases to amaze me!!

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