I started smoking when I was twelve years old. I like to think that tobacco had always been in my body. My mother smoked when she was pregnant with me, and both of my parents smoked very heavily in the house and car. At first, I smoked more out of curiosity than anything; but by the time I was fifteen I was a half a pack a day smoker. I smoked for over twenty years.
When I was thirty-five, I learned that I was pregnant with our second child. Unlike my mother, I did not smoke while pregnant. I was working for a company that gave a great incentive to quit smoking for one year. I decided with nine months covered with the pregnancy, I could probably do another three. My mentality was that I would probably go back to smoking after about fourteen or fifteen months. I didn’t actually believe that I would be able to quit for good.
One of the company requirements for the incentive involved completing a smoking cessation class put on by the hospital. When I started this class, I had already been smoke-free for five months. I walked into that class with the attitude that there was nothing they could tell me that had not been lectured to me over and over again. To my surprise, I gained fascinating information regarding my health. It also introduced the idea that nicotine was an addiction.
This was a big blow to me. Addiction! I saw it as a bad habit, a crutch, a less than desirable act in my life. Addiction is a nasty word. I had felt the sting of addiction before through a loved one, and I didn’t want to be that person, an addict. Despite my feelings regarding the words addiction and addict, the more I learned, the more I realized that while I might not think of myself as an addict, the reality was that I fit that label.
With only a few classes to complete, my father started to struggle with COPD. I watched my father struggle to breath. During our Christmas celebration he had a severe coughing fit and passed out in front of everyone. On my way home, I looked at my husband, and said, “I am going to do anything and everything I can to make sure I do not develop COPD. I never want my kids to witness that kind of incident.
Around the same time, my church had announced the start of the Rising from Ashes class. I wrestled with the idea to go to such degree I missed the first class entirely. My desire to overcome addiction won out and I walked into all the other classes very pregnant.
RFA taught me to hand my burdens over to God. My burdens? God wants my burdens (cf. Matthew 11:28)? I had always felt like my problems were insignificant, and I had no right to ask God for anything. There were huge problems in the world and I shouldn’t bother Him with mine.
The Rising from Ashes ministry showed me a whole new world; from giving my worries to God, to trusting in God, to knowing when I was under attack from the enemy. I didn’t just stop smoking; “I became a whole new person.” My life changed for me so much, because I learned how to rely on God. I was afraid to quit smoking, because I was afraid of what life would be like not being a smoker. But without fail, God showed me that my life would be nothing like I could imagine, if I would just trust Him.