This is the eighth story in our “Freedom From…” Series, an 8-week series featuring women who have faced adversity and found freedom in the process.
I had been enslaved for over 25 years; my dependency on nicotine controlled my life. I remember once when I risked missing a flight to get a few puffs of a cigarette during a very brief layover at the busy Los Angeles airport. I nearly missed the flight because I had to wait longer than expected to get back through security. Nicotine’s hold on me was so complete that I used to get so mad at my mother when she suggested I quit smoking so much that she would end up apologizing to me for bringing it up.
My addiction to cigarettes was out of control.
As a new Christian, I felt God begin to tug at my heart to put my addiction behind me. Yet I resisted, stubbornly clinging to my habit. Since a significant amount of my life had been devoted to puffing on them, I almost couldn’t remember what it was like to not have cigarettes in my life.
Oh, why had I ever started? I wondered. I remember hacking and coughing as I tried my first cigarette so many years ago at a time when I was far too young to buy them, having stolen a pack from the carton my friend’s mother kept in her refrigerator.
Cigarettes had been my constant companions during the ups and downs of life, comforting me and soothing me.
Deuteronomy 26:17 says, “You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him, that you will keep his decrees, commands, and laws—that you will listen to him.” I interpreted this Scripture to say: If I want to be a Christian, I need to start acting like one. I didn’t feel like smoking cigarettes was part of the new lifestyle I desired.
It was a struggle. I “quit” many times – sometimes only for a few moments, as I really couldn’t bear to part with my addiction. I watched a Joyce Meyer video called Breaking the Cycle of Addiction, which suggested it wasn’t enough to turn away from my addiction, but that I needed to fill the void it left.
“Run to God” became my goal. When I wanted a cigarette, I learned to turn to Scriptures I had memorized from the Bible or get down on my knees and plead for help. “Trust God” became my battle cry. I would literally write the words “Trust God” over and over and over and over…
God heard the cry of my heart and answered my prayers. It was a long process. I didn’t trust myself, but I trusted God. For many years I didn’t know if I could really remain smoke-free. It was about ten years later before I really felt like I could claim “freedom at last!”
I’ll never forget my struggle with addiction. And I know from experience that turning to God is the only way we can really get free from the strangleholds of addiction.
Has an addiction been holding you back from freedom in Christ? Are you ready to “trust God” alongside of me?
Psalm 120:3, “I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.”
Resources on Addiction in General:
If you missed the first seven weeks in our series, you can read them here: Freedom from Fear and Insecurity and Freedom from Expectations , Freedom from the Pain of the Past, Freedom from Terror, Freedom from Guilt and Shame, Freedom From Unforgiveness, and Freedom From Abuse.
Shari is currently serving as a Hospice Chaplain at Olive Grove Hospice. Shari is a certified coach who lends a blend of business and ministry experience to her every endeavor. God has given her a passion to encourage people to integrate work and faith. You can learn more about her book, Walking in Faith: Stories of Hope and Encouragement on her website: www.sharjharris.com and contact her at email@example.com