Posted by: ritagone | April 7, 2010

Addictions

What are you addicted to?

You know, we’re all addicted to something or other, wouldn’t you agree?  I find myself addicted to certain television programs.  And ice cream sundaes.  And Bookworm, a computer game that I hesitate to tell you about for fear you’ll get addicted too.  (I have had quite a few friends check it out on my recommendation, and there they go!  Months later, they curse me for introducing them to the game.)  So perhaps you’d better just take my word for it and don’t download the trial of the game.  Don’t do it!  Please!!

They say that it’s much more difficult and takes a lot more time to break an addiction than to acquire one.  I should know: I am an ex-smoker.  I know what it’s like to want to quit but be unable to do so.  I started smoking when I was a young teenager, when it was “cool” to do so.  My neighborhood girlfriend and I would buy cigarettes from a machine at the local Tastee Freeze (which was surprisingly and frighteningly easy to do, even back in the “old days”) and then walk down the block from our houses and sit on the curb puffing away.  My father, who was also an ex-smoker, amazingly never said anything to me about the odor of smoke or cigarettes on my person when I came home from these dark night puffing events.  Maybe it was because he worked late and by the time he walked through the back door, I had aired myself out.  I can’t remember.

What I do remember is that the addiction grew stronger as I got older.  By the time I was in high school and then college, I was smoking over a pack a day.  I quit for a few months when Michael and I got engaged, because he wasn’t a smoker, and I knew – even though he didn’t say anything harsh to me – about the old saying that kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray.  But the stress of the wedding caused me to start up again on my honeymoon!  So for a few years after that, because most of the people at my church thought I had quit and stayed quit, I would sneak cigarettes, which cut down on the number of smokes a day, but which was still an addiction that had me in its power.

I smoked all through my first pregnancy.  I smoked up until the time my daughter was four months old.  And what made me quit?  I had developed a cough, and I became convinced that I had lung cancer.  So I made a vow to myself and to God: if I go to the doctor and DON’T have lung cancer, I will quit.  Because I knew that if this time I was clear, in six months I might not be.  So…it wasn’t lung cancer.  My doctor, in fact, told me that the cough was most likely from an allergy to the nicotine in the cigarettes, a common enough occurrence, as it turns out.  I hated that cough.  I wanted that cough to go away and leave me alone.

I walked out of the doctor’s office and never smoked another cigarette again.  That was 37 years ago.

And the amazing thing about addiction is this: for about the first 20 years or so of my quitting smoking, I would dream that I was smoking again.  And in the dream – which occurred fairly regularly – I would look at myself smoking and objectively shake my head in disgust, thinking, “I can’t believe I started smoking again!”  Then I’d wake up and, with great relief, realize that I wasn’t smoking again, that it had been a bad dream.  Twenty years of this kind of experience!  I still marvel at the hold that this nasty habit had on me.

Why can’t we be addicted to reading our Bible or praying or thinking about God the way we are to cigarettes or television or any of the many things that negatively have a hold on us?  Why is it that the addictions are almost always negative?  I don’t know the answer, but I’m sure it has something to do with living in a fallen world and being fallen ourselves.

I’m going to ask God to give me the addiction of Himself.  I’m going to approach my Bible reading as if it draws me in irresistibly, the same way taking those cigarettes from my hiding place in my closet (on a ledge above the closet door – which my parents never discovered) and needing, wanting, yearning to smoke compelling me to walk down the street and “just do it.”  Imagine being so addicted to your Bible reading that you would move heaven and earth to get to it!

Now that’s an addiction worth having!

Next week I’ll be out of town (enjoying a few days of vacation with three girlfriends in Idaho), and I’ve asked a “guest rambler” to write for you: my husband Michael.  Now keep in mind that there was a day when he made a lot of money writing, so we are most fortunate that he has more time on his hands now and can make an appearance in your email boxes once in a while.  Enjoy…but not too much.  I’ll be back the following week.

 

Be well.  Regards, Rita

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