Chains

25 Jun

I haven’t written about this topic in a really long time.  But for those of you who have been reading for years, and were with me when I wrote at BlogSpot, you’ll remember some of this from then.

I’m going to talk today a little about addictions.  I often feel like addictions stir two train of thoughts in us.

1.) Understanding.

2.) Judgment.

For anyone who has ever been addicted to something, it’s a much more common response to feel some sympathy or understanding for someone who is battling an addiction.  You get the temptation, the battle, the highs and lows, the emotions, the guilt, the condemnation, the constant pull, and the chains that come with being controlled by something.

That is, until or unless this addiction of someone else is causing you ill effects.  And then understanding tends to fly out the window.

And then it’s easy to join the other group of people out there who feel like they’ve never been addicted to anything “that bad” and become very judgmental of those who struggle.  It’s easy to view people as pathetic, weak, disgusting, without self-control, dirty, and as a loser if they struggle with addictions that they should be able to just quit.

I’ll give you a little history of my own addiction.

I started trying cigarettes when I was 10-12 years old.  A couple of my friends had older siblings that smoked, and so we stole a couple of cigarettes every now and then and started trying them.

However, some time in my junior year of high school, I was dating a boy and hanging around with a bunch of friends who all smoked.  And that’s when I started smoking regularly.  I often tried to quit and was never successful.  Especially upon breaking up with my boyfriend and meeting a new guy (my husband) I didn’t want to be smoking because I didn’t think he smoked.  It took us all of two days to realize, we both smoked.  And that did not encourage my quitting, or his.

I smoked (4-5 years) up until the day I found out I was 7 weeks pregnant with my first son – July 30th 2004.  Having a life inside me empowered me to do things I couldn’t do on my own or for myself.  And, thankfully (which I did pray and thank God for many times) the smell made me incredibly nauseous with all those raging hormones in the beginning of pregnancy and made it much easier to avoid the desire.

It was easy not to pick the habit back up because I jumped VERY, VERY quickly from understanding to judgment.  You see, Josh didn’t just up and quit the day I found out I was pregnant.  He didn’t have the responsibility of a life growing inside of him, nor did the smell suddenly take him running to the toilet.  I was patient a couple of months, and then started demanding he quit.  I didn’t want him having smoke all over him and holding our son.

Without taking us into another post entirely – this situation caused a LOT of problems in our marriage.  Years 3-5 were really rough years.

Thankfully, we had both quit smoking, chewing, using all tobacco products, and in a stupid – absurd – I have NO idea what made this appealing at all in the moment – instance, Josh & I were out celebrating our 5 year anniversary and we smoked a celebratory cigar.  Even typing that right now makes me a laugh.  What girl smokes a cigar??? Gross.

Anyway – that’s all it took.  We started smoking cigarettes not long after that again – but not nearly like the 1 – 1 1/2 packs a day like we did when we were first married. At any rate, I was going to try really hard to drop the habit and get back on track, and then I had three miscarriages in 6 months.  It was really awful.

1 1/2 years after that stupid cigar, and then battling smoking a few cigarettes a day, (which my husband only smoked for a little bit and then quickly went back to chewing) I found out January 1st, 2009 that I was pregnant with our third son. And I quit again.  It wasn’t quite as easy this time because I was pretty fearful I was just going to miscarry again, but I didn’t, and I never touched a cigarette again.  It’s been 4 1/2 years now.

This time around, I didn’t get nearly as judgmental of my husband or others.  I still wanted my husband to quit (which he eventually did again!) but I didn’t grow as proud or harsh as I did the first time.  I got a really good dose of reality that it’s easy to slip right back into a life of addiction once you’ve battled addiction.

And thankfully in that process of learning mercy for smoking, I gained incredible perspective and understanding for those who are addicted to pornography, alcohol, drugs, lying, gossip, pride, idolatry, cutting others down, arguing, television, and so much more (and even found myself with other addictions still in my life!)

Saturday night we went out with some new friends and one of the girls we were with smokes.  It was really crazy to me and caught me totally off guard, but I was really tempted to have one.

I didn’t.  And I didn’t REALLY want one.  And I’m definitely glad I didn’t give into that temptation.

But it made me very, very aware that the chains of addiction may fall off, but it only takes a tiny moment of weakness to shackle themselves back on immediately.  And the key to taking them off is never laying beside the locks.

Not long ago another friend of mine said to me “I haven’t smoked in 9 years, but sometimes when my mom smokes, I want to stand beside her just to smell it.  I don’t want one, but I just want to stand there for a second.”

And I don’t judge that at all because I understand.

Practical Application:

Ask yourself the tough questions.  Am I one to understand or one to be judgmental?

What addictions do I have in my life that I don’t call addictions?

Am I prideful about having overcome an addiction or about not having addictions?

Am I willing to stand in the gap with someone who is struggling instead of feeling like “Just quit.  It’s as easy as deciding, I’m not going to anymore.”

 

 

 

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