In one more month I will hit the two year anniversary of my quit smoking date. It has been, according to my quit counter, One Year, Ten Months, Twenty Six Days, 23 Hours and 21 Minutes since I put out my last cigarette and I am still trying to get my head around how easy it has been.
Giving up smoking may not seem like a miracle to others but, deep down in my very soul, I know for certain God did this for me and words cannot express how loved it makes me feel!
I have smoked since I was 14 years old and, by the time I quit, I was on 50 cigarettes per day. I have never tried to quit before because I thought it would mean a lifetime of having to resist temptation and, when it comes to tough stuff, I see myself as a sprinter rather than a long distance type.
I was so afraid of suffering from withdrawal and temptations for years and years that I wouldn’t even try to quit. Then I read that there are two aspects to escaping the addiction – physical and psychological. Physical addiction, I read, lasts a mere 72 hours. I can endure anything if I know it will stop in three days! Psychological addiction is the real enemy. That will last as long as you believe addictions lies about how you can’t survive without nicotine, how nicotine helps you cope, soothes your distress, comforts bad moods, enhances good moods, relaxes you, helps you concentrate and so on.
As soon as I made the commitment to God that I no longer believed those lies He set me free and I have been free as a bird ever since and man oh man does it feel GOOD!
Some of the side effects have been good, one has been bad, but the money I am saving allowed me to buy a brand new car a couple of months ago. The repayments on it are the same as I was spending back then but, with two years worth of price rises on smokes to take into consideration, less than what I would be spending on cigarettes now if I still smoked.
Can I get a high five!?
One of the unexpected benefits of quitting is a lifting of the cloud of depression that has followed me around pretty much all my life. I had treatment for depression years ago and it worked. I thought the depression was all gone but I’ve noticed my mood rose just a little bit after I got out of the addiction prison and it has remained slightly higher ever since. I also seem to be less anxious these days and I’m not constantly jiggling and fidgeting like I used to. The dark circles under my eyes improved, my skin is a better colour, and those are just a few of the improvements I’ve noticed.
The one and only negative is I have been unable to control my eating so my weight has ballooned and I have put on 20 kg but I have no doubt God will help me beat the demon of gluttony too when the time is right. Meanwhile – I also gave up diet coke!
For the past 30 ish years I have been addicted to diet coke and, by the time I quit, I was consuming four litres of the stuff every single day. On days when I worked I would drink the four litres plus up to four cans.
Then I went to Bali (with some of my quit savings) for three weeks and the diet coke over there didn’t taste right so I quit drinking it.
When I came home the first thing I did was pour a glass and, within the hour, I felt a faint attack of nausea. It reminded me that, before I left Australia, I was living with chronic, low grade nausea that I thought was related to my lost thyroid gland. I didn’t really notice the nausea had disappeared while I was in Bali but I did notice when it came back!
I felt God nudging me to let go of that addiction too so I gave it a try and was delighted to discover I could do it. I do still drink the stuff but I try to keep it down to a maximum of three cans per day. I’m working on giving up altogether but night shifts are hard without help. On the days when I don’t work I do try to go without any diet coke at all or have just one with meals.
I started out replacing the diet coke with juices, coffee, chocolate drinks, soy milkshakes and so on but, as the weight went on, the desire to reduce calorie intake increased so now I just drink water instead of diet coke.
A side effect of quitting the diet coke was that my chronic upper arm bursitis went away. Injections, rest, nothing else fixed it so I am inclined to suspect I had aspartame poisoning and that was, in fact, causing it. The massive reduction (4 litres per day less) allowed my body to shake off the effects so now I’m pain free.
I am really struggling to get my head around how far I have come simply by opening my heart to God and saying, every night before going to sleep, “Lord, make me the person you created me to be” and being willing to let Him do whatever He needed to do to make that happen.
I was afraid, at first, but I gave Him my fear. I was angry, disobedient, willful, greedy, lazy, stubborn and a multitude of other things but I handed them all over to Him and said I am willing to change but I can’t do it alone. I need you to make it happen.
I remember lying in bed, sobbing with guilt and shame, when I was nineteen years old. I had just slapped my baby son for waking me up. I thought he was trying to break me by depriving me of sleep. I thought he was doing it on purpose and I got angry with him which led to me losing control and slapping him so hard he lost his grip on the side of his cot and fell down.
He cried and I came to my senses and comforted him. I fed him, changed him, put him back to sleep and the whole time tears were rolling down my face and I was filled with despair. When I was done attending to my son I threw myself on the bed and sobbed to God that I just did not have it in me to change.
I listed all my faults and sins and told God I wanted to change, I had tried to change but nothing worked, I just didn’t have it in me. I said I can’t even do something as simple as choose Jesus over nicotine when I was fully aware my salvation depended on that. I told God I understood if He had to give up on me and send me to hell for making such a bad choice but the best I could offer Him was my prayers.
I remember praying “Lord, make me the person you created me to be” and Him saying “Who do you think I created you to be?”
I listed the things I thought would need to change. No more excessive anger, no more man hating, no more slutting around, quit smoking, stop being lazy, stop being greedy, lose weight, think of others, go to church, tithe my money, stop swearing, stop taking the Lords name in vain. It was a very, VERY, long list. Like so many people do (especially people who don’t believe in God) I thought a good Christian has to be perfect.
“I didn’t create you to be a ‘good Christian’ Kim”, God said gently, “I created you to be YOU. I love YOU. Right here, right now, as is, I love you and I always will. Open your heart and let me in. Trust me and let me love you. The rest will follow in time and some things may never need changing.”
Now here I am – 40 years later – checking the things on that list off one by one and none of them were hard. Some of them cost a lot more than I would have liked them to cost but no more than they needed to cost to be effective. There has been some very hard times but they earned me some major blessings and I do not feel God has been unfair. I feel richly blessed and spoiled – like I imagine a daddy’s little princess must feel. I never had a human daddy so I don’t know if this feels the same but I suspect it feels way better!
It’s not all sunshine and roses – I still need to lose the weight and I have not entirely gotten over being lazy but I am, and I will always be, a work in progress. In spite of that it has been years and years and years since I felt hopeless and despairing or unloved.
Unbelievers will say it’s all me, coincidences, the universe, anything but God. I know the truth and the truth has set me free from so much that all I can do is bow my head and let my heart rejoice for the creator of all things loves ME and works miracles in me and in my life!
He loves you too and He will do the same for you if you let Him.