Well, God is taking me on another journey. The quit smoking journey. Most people think, oh, quitting smoking, what's the journey in that. But, this is more than just quitting smoking, it's a spiritual journey as much as it's a physical journey.
It's about being obedient and aware of God's ever presence in my life. And His will for me.
This journey that started before I even knew there was going to be a journey. (See previous post.)
Yes, I was in a "funk". It wasn't a big deal, I just knew that God was trying to get my attention and couldn't figure out why. My question to God has always been "WHY?"
Well, I made the decision to go to the Terra Nova Women's Retreat in October. It was a choice between a new sofa or the retreat. Somehow, I chose the retreat. A God thing.
Now, let me tell you!, I had no intention of quitting smoking the day I left for the retreat. Even after friends and close family members urged me to quit. Even after poor Ethan, my then 3 year old grandson, chased me out the door and stood at the glass slider door pleading with me "don't do that gramma, it's bad for you"!, his words and the look on his face haunt me, still.
Yet, I still just smoked. I would make up stories as to what I was doing outside to avoid Ethan's recriminations! But yet, I still wasn't going to quit smoking. I felt like, I'm grown, I can do what I want to do.
At the retreat, the Holy Spirit was "full", for lack of a better word, at this time, and I felt that God was impressing something on me. At first I didn't know what it was. But it was there and it was heavy.
Then during a break, I went outside and lit one up. I heard Him say gently, quietly, "I want you to put that away". What the heck! HUH!!!??? I just lit this! These suckers are expensive! But, was I obedient, oh, no I wasn't, but the feeling that I let my Lord down was HUGE. It wasn't guilt or shame, it was something else, but I don't have a word for it.
We went back inside to finish up our morning with our speaker, Danna Demetre, and some of the things she said just hit me in the head like a two by four. And the final "brick" being tossed at me, was Romans 12:1,
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, (and sisters- my edition) in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual or reasonable act of worship". Oh, jeez, "an act of worship".
I've heard this verse a thousand times in my Christian walk, but that day it was HUGE.
A God thing.
And so I knew deep in my heart that I had to quit smoking. I hated it. I dreaded it. I really didn't want to do it. I know how hard it is to quit. I've done it many times. I was praying about it and really hoping that I totally misunderstood the message. Nope, I didn't. He wanted me to quit, and promised that He has something so much better for me.
I was speaking to my car pool buddy about it on the way home, and she offered to hold me accountable, but I didn't think that was what God wanted. I didn't know this at the time.
God has made it very clear to me, that He is holding me accountable. In a very loving and wonderful way God is getting me through this. He is revealing to me many wonderful things. He's answering questions I've had for 10 years! He's blessing me through this and I am in absolute awe of Him at this moment.
It's really funny how God prepared me for this. I started identifying my "triggers", the things that make me want to smoke, boredom, anger, hunger, tiredness, after dinner, in the car, so on and so on. I just knew that I was preparing to go into a battle of some kind. I chose my method of medicinal assistance, the nicotine patch, and I told my family and friends, some of who smoke, what my plan was and picked a date. October 19th. The day after I turned 50 years old. Then just recently I found a website called www.becomeanex.com and all those things are there! All of them!!! A God thing.
The first few days weren't too bad. The 5th day was horrible, I couldn't get past a craving no matter how hard I tried. Then He gave me this simple sentence, "This is no longer a part of your life".
He didn't say, "NO you can't have it". Or, "NO you don't need it". He simply said, "This is no longer a part of your life". And every time I repeat that, whether in my head or out loud the craving passes quickly and I move on. And today as I say this sentence, I am comforted.
Day 10 was the worst of it, I think, and I hope. I was in the middle of the hardest, longest craving so far and I tried to stay busy. I took care of 6 loads of laundry. That's hard work since I live in an apt. and have to "schlep" baskets over to the laundry room 3 buildings and an alley over. And my neck pain was excruciating. I took the dog out for a walk, I picked up around the house. I was doing deep breathing exercises, EVERYTHING! I could think of, I did it.
I finally got in the shower and just cried out to the Lord, "LORD!, PLEASE!". And in that moment, the craving was gone. Completely gone. I cannot express the relief! I could breathe!!!
But I learned something else. And that was simply that all He wants me to do is ask. Not just expect that He's "got it" but to come to Him and ask Him. UH, DUH!
As I mentioned earlier He's answered many questions and has relieved me of some burdens that I've carried with me for a long time. One of those questions, and burdens was, why did He allow Todd and I to get married only to have it fail so terribly and miserably?? WHY WHY WHY!?? Please understand, it's not because I still love him, or want that marriage back - oh HELL NO, but I've struggled with this for so long and pretty much figured that I could have an answer when I get to heaven.
I don't remember what day of this journey it was on, but for some reason I was thinking about this again. I hadn't thought about it in a couple of years. And then there was the answer - He allows us free will. And even when our free will is SO NOT in His will for us He will use it for His glory. The reason He allowed this (even though it broke His heart to watch) was multifaceted.
First, He had to get me out of the environment I was in. I was in a place where my sins were all around me, friends I had, drinking buddies, party pals were everywhere. In order to work in my life effectively, He had to get me out of my "geographic".
Second, He had to take me away from my kids. I surely wasn't taking care of them. Oh, I paid the bills but that was pretty much it. I partied, I set terrible examples. There were no boundaries, no rules, no nothing. I was a "bad mother". I'm sure there were and are worse mother's than I was, but I wasn't that much better. And it still wasn't right. I was just at a loss as to what to do with them. I had to have that taken away from me by God since the system couldn't, so I would know what I had. It was one of those "you don't miss your water till the well runs dry" kind of things. Oh, and I missed them. I longed for them. I wanted them to have what I was having. A new found wonderful thing called Jesus Christ. But they wanted nothing more to do with me for awhile. Oh, but God has restored and redeemed them back to me and it makes them so much more precious to me now.
Third, I got educated in His Word. I learned more in 18 months than I had ever learned in my entire life. I got the "meat and potatoes" of bible history. I studied the OT and the NT.
I learned of His first followers and I studied the book of Revelation, and I learned and I learned and oh, I was thirsty. I soaked it all in. I didn't know then but it was in preparation for future "faith builder" events that happened later.
Fourth, He had to show me that even "so called", "self professed" christian (note the lower case "c") men have their own agenda's. And Todd had his own agenda's. Once those agenda's were met, I no longer mattered. Nor did our marriage.
Fifth and finally, He wanted me to see how He showed me the way out of this mess, that I could no longer bear. He showed me where my grounds for leaving were and provided for me during that time.
Many things happened after the failure of my marriage to Todd. I walked away from God. I turned my back on a wonderful thing. Not because I didn't believe. I always believed, but I was terribly confused. I didn't know what to think. I had fallen into a huge depression and had it not been for one of God's wonderfully holy people, Terri McAuley, I wouldn't be here today. I was in limbo. I was on the fence, I was a "mugrump". My mug on one side and my rump on the other. I made some stupid choices but it wasn't too bad. I met Scott during this time so it's all good.
I gave up a lot to have what I have now with Him. And I have been healed of much. Many of my wounds are covered in His blood. And my gratitude is HUGE.
Today is Day 21 of this journey. I feel God with me and around me even through some of the issues I'm facing have nothing to do with my quitting smoking.
He reminded me through Lindsay's cancer scare that He was "in this" and that I had to have faith and He has rewarded that faith with a clean bill of health for her. That's all I wanted, oh how much He has again given back to me. After many doctor's visits and referrals to specialists (who really don't know what they're doing) and many, many uncomfortable tests, there is no more cancer. She doesn't have to have Interferon treatments, which we found out would have done her more harm than good even though this is what was the recommended treatment. She simply has to have and MRI and a PET Scan every year and follow up with a dermatologist annually and of course use sunscreen and stay out of the sun during peak hours.
My faith was rewarded. My child was spared. Even though the guilt was heavy. The feeling like - why would He spare my child, when so many others were dying and suffering terribly.
Another "Why" question.
He's reminded me that guilt and shame are not of Him. They are of the enemy. To distract us from Him and take our focus off of Him. He simply just loves me just like I am and wants me to be obedient.
I have a long way to go before I'm done with this particular journey and I will continue to ask people to pray for my complete recovery from smoking. And for now, I'm walking slowly with Him every day. Some people may not even recognize this, but that's okay too. Because I know Him and He knows me, intimately, and that's really all that matters to me right now in this moment. In the meantime, I'll pray for those who don't understand.
I know that no matter what I look like, how much I weigh, how big my belly gets, or what my evil thoughts are, He loves me.
HE LOVES ME!!!
How I wish for other's to have what I have with Him. I try to explain it to people, but they look at me with that dazed look, like, "huh". And I am learning that I have to just let Him work in them as He is working in me. And pray for them. It's a process. I have the courage now, I never had before, to speak out about Him in places I never would have. I've been very open with people at work about how and why I'm doing what I'm doing. And it's opened up a lot of conversations that I can only hope are "of Him".
And finally I can say without question or doubt that the next journey will be even more trying and even more difficult, but I look forward to it because I know He is with me always.
I'm reminded in His Word - in Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand". I'm in good hands.
What more do I need?? What more does anyone need??