Smoking - give you up?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Are you kidding? No. Is that possible? Yes!

Thousands of people every day struggle to quit smoking. Some grit their teeth and go cold turkey. Others plunk money down for all sorts of medications that supposedly will wean them from the habit. Some even try hypnotism. But for many people, none of these is permanently effective.

I started smoking as a teenager. I suppose I really knew that it wasn't a particularly good thing to do. But I did it anyway. Several years later, when my two-year-old daughter sweetly said to me, "I'm going to smoke when I grow up, Mommy!" - as if it were a primary goal of her life - it was clear to me that this habit had to go.

Every other day I gave it up! Once I gave it up by sheer willpower for three whole years. But even then I felt the pull, the longing, to light up nearly every day. I wondered if I could ever be truly free.

While I was still in a state of one day quitting and the next day puffing, a co-worker introduced me to what Christian Science teaches. Each day, she brought me this newspaper, and I would read the article on Christian Science (like this one). She also gave me the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which was written by the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy.

I loved what I was learning about the goodness of God. And about the perfection and wholesomeness that were part of me as His dearly loved child (see Gen. 1:27, 31). Immediately I began praying - applying what I was learning about God to problems that confronted me. And I began to have healings.

But it hadn't occurred to me that these spiritual ideas would apply to the smoking problem.

One day, when this fellow worker was passing by my office, she peeked in and saw me puffing away (you could do that in the workplace back then!). I'd already told her I was giving up smoking to save money to buy my children books. Heaving a sigh, I mournfully told her I was still trying to give it up, but not very successfully.

Then she said something that turned me upside down, or rather, right side up. She said, quite simply, "Oh, it will give YOU up!" And she walked away.

Why, I had never heard anything so ridiculous in all my life. Yet I really thought about that statement. Later that same day, as I was walking down the hall, the thought came to me that if I didn't smoke, maybe I could understand this Christian Science stuff better. Suddenly I had an overwhelming desire to understand more deeply God and His wonderful, perfect, pure, spiritual creation.

That was it! I never smoked again. There was no withdrawal. No hiding matches and ashtrays. No "I wish I could, but I shouldn't." It was gone. All desire to smoke was entirely gone - poof! In fact, it felt like I had never smoked. I can honestly say I've never had even the slightest desire to light up a cigarette since.

Just as my friend said, smoking gave me up. And why? Well, it took me a little longer to figure that out. But as I continued to study, the answer became clear. Speaking of another addictive habit, Science and Health points out, "The drunkard thinks he enjoys drunkenness, and you cannot make the inebriate leave his besottedness, until his physical sense of pleasure yields to a higher sense" (Pg. 322). I could see that the physical pleasure, the appetite, for tobacco yielded entirely to the higher sense - to the healing desire to understand my identity as God's daughter better.

Can smoking, or any other debilitating, addictive habit, give you up? It can. You're just as free as I am to know yourself as the image and likeness of God. To express goodness, purity, wholesomeness, which are yours from God. To find that your identity is spiritual, perfect, never touched by or attracted to anything bad or harmful.

The genuine, heartfelt desire for freedom - for God, for a deeper understanding of the spiritual - is powerful prayer. It can cause whatever in your life is unlike God, unlike good, to give you up, too!

You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist:

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