(excerpted from Susan’s new book, Radiant Beams)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13
Was I an addict! I slept with my pack of cigarettes inches away, ready for that first smoke of the day. My hair was stinky. My clothes closet reeked.
My children were ashamed. They stole my cigarettes, smashed them to smithereens and flushed it all down the toilet so I couldn’t salvage any smokeable smithereens. They posted signs all over the house, such as a drawing of a cigarette inside a circle with a slash through it, and a kid sticking out a tongue the size of a dirigible and going “Yuck.”
But I liked smoking. I didn’t want to quit.
The ultimate rejection came at the dentist’s. We were matching colors for a ceramic crown. You know how they have lovely names for lipsticks and nail polishes? Rah Rah Red and Marvelous Mauve? Well, to match my teeth, I expected the dentist would pick a white tone like Pearly Gates. Blinding Snow. Bridal Veil.
But no. The color he picked was more like Pond Bottom Gray.
Eww! The truth hurt. It was time to quit.
I tried quitting cold turkey. It didn’t go well. I was a turkey and smoked again.
I tried dwindling down. Soon, I dwindled right back up again.
I tried snapping a rubber band around my wrist to inflict pain every time I wanted to smoke. I must be one of those sado-masochistic types who love pain. I kept on smoking.
I tried putting out my cigarettes in a coffee can full of water by the kitchen sink. The butts floated in the black, smelly brine. It grossed out everybody but me.
Finally, I turned to that desperation ploy: prayer.
“Oh, God,” I sobbed, in full-strength tobacco breath. “Please keep me from smoking.” My entwined, nicotine-stained fingers tightened. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, take this addiction away from me, once and for all!”
I really meant it this time. I dropped into my favorite drug- store and told them not to sell me any more cigarettes, even if I begged on my knees. They know me well enough to know it could happen. Figuring I was still a good profit center for them with all the chocolate I buy, they agreed.
I destroyed all my “stashes” and went to bed.
The next day, presto! I woke up, and I didn’t want to smoke. Didn’t want to smoke all day. Hal-le-LOO-jah! That was easy, Lord!
The second day, I still didn’t want to smoke, and got through the day cigarette-free. AY-men!!! Can I get a witness?!? I felt good about myself. Light-headed, but good.
On the third day, I rose again . . . and MAN, DID I WANT A CIGARETTE!!! Right here, right now! Emergency! AA-OO- GAH!!!
My eyes crossed. My head spun. My fingers twitched. My body shook. I had to have one! Had to! In my crazed, nicotine- addicted state, I hatched this scheme:
“I’ll drive to a drugstore far away where they don’t know me and don’t know I’m trying to quit. Then I’ll buy one pack. Just one! And I’ll smoke one cigarette. Just one! Then I’ll throw all the rest away!”
Furtively, in sunglasses and collar up like Jackie O avoiding the paparazzi, I got in the car and hunched over the wheel. That way, God “couldn’t see me.”
Eyes crossing, nerves jangling, I pulled out into traffic. I stopped at a red light and stared straight ahead. My eyes suddenly focused sharply, like a laser beam.
The license plate on that car! It had a few letters, followed by “666.”
That’s the number of the devil! (Revelation 13:18)
If I follow that car, go ahead with my plan and buy cigarettes after I prayed for God’s help not to smoke anymore, I’ll be following Satan . . . not God.
I’ll not only have Pond Bottom Gray teeth and smelly clothes . . . I’d have Pond Bottom Gray teeth and smelly clothes FOREVER! IN HELL!!!
I did a wheelie (well, almost) and laid scratch the other way. I went home and smoked no more. It was hard . . . but not as hard as hell. Ha.
Today, nearly 20 years later, I’m still smoke-free. That was one of the toughest challenges of my life. Health-wise, it was a no-brainer, but if you’ve ever been an addict, you know: uff da, it’s hard to quit such an ingrained habit. But boy, am I glad.
And what do you know? My teeth are beginning to look less like a pond bottom, and more like the pearly gates. †
By Susan Darst Williams www.TheDailySusan.com Radiant Beams copyright 2016