Almost 35 years ago… January 1, 1985.
I quit smoking this day… for the 746th time. I started back in ‘72 because everybody else was doing it. Of course, I would have never admitted to that at the time. It was purely coincidental, I likely reasoned.
I knew it was unhealthy, and as the years went by, I realized, (but never admitted) I couldn’t quit. I tried sometimes, but I’d usually start back within a few days.
If anybody asked about it, the natural response would reflect some “I’ve cut down” rationalization. “I’m down to _____ per day”. Eventually I stopped talking about quitting, because I didn’t want anybody to call me out when I caved. Accountability was much too uncomfortable.
Nobody in my immediate family smoked. So, too ashamed to smoke in front of them, I hid it from them. I was a closet smoker. I wasn’t fooling anybody.
Amazingly, there was a two-year stretch between 1979 and 1981 that I actually stopped. I thought I had it licked. Then I thought I could have “just one”. Yeah.
Finally, at a doctor’s visit, I was strongly urged to quit. After more than a decade of excuses and failed attempts, for some reason this took. I suppose hearing it from the credible source of a doctor, I finally accepted what I already knew. The Marlboros were slowly killing me.
So on New Year’s Day, 1985, I quit. For good this time. Cold turkey. No cutting down. No patch. No gum. I. Just. Stopped.
I nearly lost my mind.
I gained weight. I got cranky. God surely gave me the strength, but not because I asked for it. I hadn’t surrendered anything to Him at this point, certainly not my life, much less my addiction.
I was grumpy, I was edgy. I tried to keep my self busy, so I set out to build a 6×8 foot tall wall unit for our living room. From scratch. Just bought a bunch of wood and began measuring and cutting. Bad idea.
Safety tip: Never use heavy power equipment when angry.
Shockingly, the wall unit came out okay. But not after a lot of sweat, toil, and yelling. Again, God’s grace prevailed, once in successfully quitting tobacco, then in the form of a successful wall unit.
Sometimes God lets us wallow in our own stubbornness and sometimes He helps us in spite of our attitude or our refusal to submit.
Now I recoil when I hear the word “deserved.” “He got what he deserves.” “Get the money you deserve.”
I’m a sinner saved by grace. I “deserve” the flames. But because of His great love, I have eternal life in heaven!
And a “smoke-free” life on earth!