I learned a lot about love and about smoking in the same experience.
My boyfriend and I had had a big fight and had broken up. I went to visit a friend, who was allowed to smoke at home. (I wasn't.) We spent a few days together, smoking a lot and talking about my boyfriend and the breakup. Although she took my side and said that I should never see him again, underneath I began to realize how wrong I had been.
The last thing she said to me as she put me on a bus for home was, "Don't call him." On that bus ride I knew that I had to apologize for the things I had said. When I got off the bus, I went to the nearest phone and called him. He immediately said, "I'll come and get you." We were so glad to see each other, and neither had to apologize for the fight. We both were expressing real love and forgiveness. I think we knew that love was something more than an emotion. It was certainly more powerful than hate and self-will. It could change us, and it did.
This power of divine Love to create genuine love in my heart was one of the lessons I learned from this experience. The other lesson, which concerned smoking, didn't appear clearly until a few years later. When my boyfriend and I had met in the bus station, we each had a cigarette. I had never had a smoke taste so good. Some time later I realized that it wasn't the cigarette that tasted so good, but the feeling of being loved and expressing love that was not selfish.
Understanding that it was love that gave happiness - and not a cigarette - made me want to stop smoking. I didn't like sneaking cigarettes, and I never liked the way my clothes smelled, but I was addicted to the nicotine. I began to read a book by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper. The book said a lot about God and divine Love, but it also pointed out things that were not good. I had to laugh at her sarcasm. She wrote, "Puffing the obnoxious fumes of tobacco, or chewing a leaf naturally attractive to no creature except a loathsome worm, is at least disgusting" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 407).
I needed perseverance to stop smoking, because I found I couldn't do it on my own. I finally asked someone to pray for me. I prayed to understand more about love, how to express it, how to receive it - how to live it. I had learned that it was love that made me happy. One day, I woke up and didn't want a cigarette, and I never wanted one again. It was almost as if I had never smoked.
Now, back to what I learned about love. The Bible includes many letters written by people who knew a lot about the power of real love. In one of these letters, I John, it says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (4:7). And another letter, which explains how much God loves everyone, says, "I will call ... her beloved, which was not beloved" (Rom. 9:25).
Even if your parents might not be showing a lot of love right now, or a teacher is overworked and in a bad mood, or even if a friend has betrayed you and made you look stupid, you can feel that right there where it seems you are not loved, you are loved. This love comes from God, who is always near and is always the same. It cannot come from a cigarette, from any other drug, or even from getting new jeans and boots. It's not that far away. It is here and now and is from the God who is Love itself.
Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men's sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love
cannot face; there is no limit
to its faith, its hope, and its
endurance. Love will
never come to an end.
I Corinthians 13:4-8