Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Addiction

                I have battled addictions all my life. It all started for me at the age of 13. I was enamored with a young boy of about 14 who I believed was my soul mate. He smoked marijuana and since I wanted him to notice me, I smoked it with him. When I was 14 almost 15 my habit had gotten out of control. Not only was I getting high, but I was drinking, smoking cigarettes, and having sexual intercourse. I knew it was wrong, my parents did try to raise me right, but his admiration was more important than my parent’s approval. I ended up skipping school, getting into trouble and landed in a drug rehabilitation program. I met some great people in that place, but for me, it wasn't enough- even after my release, numerous recovery programs and new friends, I fell back into the habits and found myself once again spiraling out of control.

                Before I became a Christian I was on a fast track to destruction. Not only of my body, physically, but spiritually as well. I dabbled in the ideas of witchcraft, and other religions apart from Jesus. Always looking for a way to escape, for anyone to help me get my life back on track, because I knew that I needed to get right, I just didn’t understand how to do it. I was raised Catholic, and it seemed that all the Catholic church wanted to do was baptize me in holy water, have me confess of my sins and pray 10 Our Father’s and 10 Hail Mary’s. Which, in the end, only made me feel justified to go out and sin it up all over again, which I did.
                It wasn’t until the Lord Jesus Christ found me that I began to change. I would like to tell you that I immediately gave up the marijuana abuse, the alcohol abuse and the cigarettes, but that was not the case. In fact, the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ I think I might have been a little high. This at first plagued me. I thought that my salvation could not have been real because I was not in my right frame of mind. But, I thank Jesus Christ who showed me it was not about where I was physically that mattered to Him, it was where I was spiritually in my heart. And in my heart, I wanted Him- I needed Him- I adored Him. That day, Jesus became my One True Love and my Perfect Soul Mate, and the process of cleaning up my life began. Destruction ended and new life began.
              
  After being separated from my husband for almost two years, the Lord led me back. I humbled myself and gave my life that evening on the floor of my children’s bedroom and called out to God my Father to do whatever it would take to mold me into the woman He wanted me to be. That is when the addictions started to fall away. Even after I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I still smoked cigarettes, I smoked marijuana and I drank. But the Lord God got a hold of me and He was not about to let me go- no matter how I tried to justify my behavior to Him.
                Over the next year, the Lord started a work in my heart. He was repairing the damage the separation had caused on our family, on my marriage, and restoring the relationship I had with my mom, my sister and even my father. (Although at first, my mom was pretty sure I had joined a cult and tried everything in her power to “save” me.) One evening I was in the home of a friend of mine that I went through drug rehab with. I was feeling convicted of my choice to smoke a few bongs, and drink a few (okay maybe 12) beers,  but I kept justifying in my mind that it was okay. I mean, God did say in Genesis, “every green herb bearing seed”. (Genesis 1:29) and since He made it, it had to be okay. But that evening the Lord reached down from heaven and took this addiction from me. I found myself in the midst of a seizure and completely blacked out. I woke up to find the EMT and Fire Department over top of me. (Thankfully, my friend was a nurse and knew what to do) That night, the Lord spoke to me and told me, “Enough”. And for the first time, I listened, and the desire to smoke marijuana was gone- in an instant.
                But my struggles with addiction have never been easy. Yes, I gave up drinking and I gave up smoking marijuana, but over the years I have struggled with cigarettes. I used to hide in the car at church and smoke before going into service. I used to pretend with all my brothers and sisters in the Lord that I did not smoke. In truth, I was lying to them and to myself, not to mention I was lying before God. At first, there really was no conviction to quit. The Lord had taken the drug and alcohol usage from me, so I thought that He would take this as well. But, after almost 13 years, I still struggle with it.
                I have tried numerous times to quit. Those who know me will tell you that I have prayed diligently for the Lord to remove this addiction just as He did the other ones. But, to no avail. I still struggle and I still fight the urges. My will power in regards to this issue went out the door. But, there is and always will be hope in Jesus Christ. Not too many months ago, the Lord and I were once again discussing my addiction to nicotine. I asked Him to take it, but He said, “No, you must lay it down.” He gave me a choice. I could keep on living as I was living or I could make a change. This area of my life had to be freely given to Him, and He was asking for sacrifice, nothing less.

                It has not been easy for me these past few days. But, after three days, I have managed to stay smoke-free. I have studied my Bible, prayed, found other ways to keep myself busy and have managed to keep free of the addiction- so far. Has it been easy, not at all- it has been more difficult to give up than the drugs and alcohol, but give it up I must. So what changed? What is making it a little easier this time than all the other times?  It was when I realized that I wanted to go deeper with God, that I wanted to give all of myself to Him in every area of my life. There is not one area of my life that I do not want Him in. I want all of Him, and He wants all of me. This means sacrifice on my part, and when I lay it down, He will pick it up and it will become a sweet smelling sacrifice to His glory. I cannot do this on my own. I need Him; I am desperate for His help. And He has been willing to give it to me, when I ask.
                The last time I tried to quit smoking, I was praying for the Lord to take it away, to help me by just freeing me from the addiction- like He did for the others. And His reply to me was, “You have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:4) He was right. I had not resisted the urges, instead I gave into them. I let my husband’s desire to keep smoking as an excuse for me to keep doing it. I needed to let go of this addiction, not only for my own health but for Him, my Jesus, my God, my One True Love. Why? Because He asked me to give it up for Him, and I want to do what is pleasing to Him and Him alone. I have an accountability partner, my sister in the Lord is praying for me, with me and keeping me on my toes. But in the end, I know that the only way any addiction can be overcome is by the power of God working in our lives through His Son Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

               
We all battle with some sort of addiction. The Bible doesn’t really say anything about smoking being wrong, or that drinking a glass of wine is wrong. But what I believe the bible warns us against is become dependent on anything other than God Himself. If we depend on a cigarette to calm our nerves, or a glass of wine to help relax us after a long day, then perhaps we have a problem. The only One we should depend on is Jesus Christ- everything else is an addiction, and if you want my opinion- it is an idol, and we know that we should have no other gods but God the Father. Anything that makes you feel like you have to have it, my brothers and sisters, is wrong. The only thing we need, the only thing we have to have is Jesus Christ. Without Him all else is futile, all else is worthless. So, as I struggle again, as I lay this addiction down, I pray that all who struggle with me will see the glory in the sacrifice and the blessing in the obedience to Him. There really is only one cure for addiction, and that is Jesus Christ. Apart from Him we can do nothing. May the Lord Jesus Christ give you strength, may He be the only One you need from this day forward. Amen and Amen.