ADDICTIONS

November 16, 2001

Struggling for you has a different meaning than what struggling means to me or to someone else. There are different types of struggling - financial struggling, physical, mental, food, addictions, etc. Struggling with an addiction is for all almost the same. It starts off where the lie that has been told to you is that you are in control; it is easy to give it up or to quit. How easy is it to believe that lie, to say that you are able to quit any time?

Everyone that is addicted or was addicted in any form to anything will, if totally honest, admit that this is true. We all try to be in control - or pretend that we are in control; while back at the ranch, we are lost. We know we can't quit, we know how difficult it is, we know that we have tried several times and we totally missed it. Quitting is difficult, quitting on my own doesn't last long, and it is never a total solution.

Using all the tools available to help you quit your addiction, from tablets, patches, hypnosis, aroma therapy, acupuncture, herbal remedies, stones, crystals, sleep therapy to cold turkey; none of these methods is very effective or long lasting! The question is, why is this not effective, why is this not a complete or lasting solution and why is it so difficult to quit this stupid addiction? Let's look at my own life.

I started smoking when I was 22 years old. I've never touched alcohol in my life and none of my family smoked. I was on a tour in Taiwan when I started smoking - just for the fun, not under peer pressure or to be 'in', just because something there influenced me - easy to try and blame someone else, but the decision was mine and mine alone - I was in control and I was not addicted - not yet.

Soon I was smoking publicly with the other tour members and yes - I was 'in' - I was 'cool'! Soon I was smoking a packet of 20's a day and I still believed and told people that it was easy to quit. The excuse was that I enjoyed smoking, I don't want to quit yet because I could do it at any time I wanted (0r so I believed!).

The lie just grew bigger and bigger. Does "I'm under stress and smoking helps me cope with it!" sound familiar? I did not smoke in front of my family, firstly because I was shy to show this weakness and secondly I had too much respect for my mother and father. I started living a lie. I hid it from my brother and sisters and I became a closet smoker - I would have this facade before my family - holier than holy and hating smokers but then I couldn't wait to secretly go off and have a smoke.

Soon after starting - about six months down the line, I wanted to test the lie of "I'm in control and I can quit anytime I want to". How sadly I failed, did not even lasted 2 days and then I knew I had a problem. I was entangled in a web of lies and at that stage I still believed that I was not that deep in. I stilled my conscience with more lies. I believed that I was hiding it very well from the rest of my family. If my mother came to my room and it smelled of smoke, I blamed it on my friends. I never accepted responsibility and I always denied any accusation of me being a smoker.

Pretty soon I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day and I could not do without it. I was hooked; hook, line and sinker. Even then I still denied that I was addicted. In between I did try and quit, trying all the vices from smoking less, smoking a lighter cigarette, drinking water instead on smoking, eating Nicorettes, using QUIT, using the nicotine patches, yeah, I tried most.

15 years later I was still trying, more desperate than ever. By then most of my family knew, but I still didn't smoke in front of my parents or my brother. The thing was that every time I unsuccessfully tried to stop, my self-image would get another serious dent. This all because of the lie that I believed - "I'm in control and I can stop any time that I want to!"

I can tell you that I was badly dented at this stage and every time I got dented, it made it more difficult to keep the facade. I knew that I was badly addicted but still with my badly dented self-image, I kept on trying to stay in control.

My brother was always asking me - "Chris, do you smoke?" and my standard reply would be - "No, I was with someone that smoked" or some other feeble excuse. I believed my own lies and I thought that my brother would also believe my lies. But my breath and the smell on my clothes did not lie, neither the packet of smokes in the car or the lighter in my pocket.

Eventually I made peace and I acknowledged to my brother that I was a smoker. Through all the years that I smoked, we struggled with our finances and I never had a healthy relationship with God. Yes, He was the one that I turned to last - after everything had been tried and tested and failed.

Even after I became a re-born Christian, I kept on smoking. Things didn't change a lot for me in the beginning, as I was now on the right road, but I was not moving in any direction. I was standing still - I was not growing and getting to know the mercy and love and grace of God our Father. It took me a while to 'get it' - you know, to understand that I need to be the change before there will be any change. I could not keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results. I had to start moving and with the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I started crawling, fortunately in the right direction. It was not an easy thing to do, it was sometimes difficult. I had to make decisions and some decisions I didn't want to make. I was in my comfort zone and to be honest - I liked my comfort zone and I didn't want to change it.

But fortunately my circumstances were so bad that I realized that I could not keep on with the current ways. I was ready, ready for changes and ready to do almost anything to change the situation. I was desperate and desperation drives you to do strange things. I had to make peace with my past, with a lot of things. I had to make peace with the fact that I was an addict - in more than one way was I addicted. I had to get to know God intimately and to get there, I had to change a lot of things.

On March 19th, 2000, a sunny Sunday morning, I was busy with my quiet time and it was again, after a very unsuccessful attempt to stop smoking, that I was in desperation praying to God to help me. I used QUIT and it was expensive and I did not succeed! I said to God, "I can't anymore, I desperately wanted to stop and it was impossible for me". I asked God to stop for me, and I even said that if it was from Him, that I did not want to have to go through all the withdrawal symptoms, I did not ever want to crave a cigarette and I want my teeth to be clean from the tar. I was desperate, but that whole day went past without me craving or wanting to smoke. It was easy, even after lunch, I did not even miss the usual cigarette or with my afternoon coffee.

Monday morning, I got up, feeling good and the first thing that I did was to look in the mirror at the back of my teeth. Now at that stage it was about 15 months since I was at a dentist to have my teeth cleaned. That Monday morning my teeth looked better than they would have looked after I had been to the dentist. I knew that God has given me victory and that through His power I would never smoke a cigarette again.

It is the 25th of July 2001 now and I gained about 8 kg but praise the Lord - through His power I'm free of the addiction, of the lie that was in my life for 15 long years.

I know now that the only true solution to any addiction - regardless, is God's solution. God is waiting for you to confess your addiction, to become humble before Him and everyone that you lied to about your addiction.

He wants to set you free, and He wants to show you how He can do it. He wants to work a miracle in your life, because Jesus, His only Son, died for every one of your sins, His precious blood washes you clean and He paid the full price for everyone! Only through God can you be set totally free.

Bring your addiction to God; give it to Him and He will take care of it. God knows what is in your heart, He knows if you are serious / desperate and He will set you free from whatever your addiction, from whatever the lie is in your life. Make a choice not to believe the lie Satan is trying to tell you. God is the only answer, the only solution and the only one that can break the addiction / lie. God is the only one that is in control - if you think you are in control, God cannot do anything in your life, and He cannot work miracles or work through you. You have to let go and let God!

Decide to give control of your life to God. Make your decision and be strong - on your knees before God. Learn and study and get to know God. He has abundance for you, as much as He has it for me or any of His children. He longs for you to get rid of all the things that are standing between you and Him, addictions or any other sins.

Trust the Holy Spirit to show to you all the sins, all the lies in your life that are keeping you from His total abundance, keeping you from releasing control and giving it to Him! Learn to life in faith, to step across the line and dare to life an adventurous life with God as your guide. God deals with every area once you start to trust Him and once He is in control, but it is still your decision to let go!

--- Copyright 2001 Chris Putter

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