R. Justin Shepherd | PART-TIME PUNDIT

broken? a brutally honest look in the mirror.
17.October.2007, 7.49 pm
Filed under: faith, honesty, life, transitions

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

— 1 John 1:9

When I was just turning 21, I “gave my life to Christ.” At least, that’s how it’s put in evangelical circles… Truth is, God took my life away from me. Gone was any lasting desire to do the things I had done… deceit, licentiousness, hatefulness chief among them.

Soon after, I began to smoke.

“Hmm,” you might be thinking, “that seems like a weird thing for a new Christian to start doing!” And looking back, it indeed seems very strange. I can’t remember any real motive, it was just something to do while I sat around reading and playing music. For at least a year or so my smoking was pretty calm… a clove cigarette (expensive, stinky kind) or two a day, no big deal. Right?

Fast-forward some six years, and I’ve probably smoked thousands of cigarettes. I was probably up to a pack a day before Shelley and I got married in 2003, and have struggled ever since in attempts to quit. A week here, a month there, I’ve gotten away from the stuff, but it always calls me back. It’s an addiction, and that’s what addictions do.

Meanwhile, my attempts to break my habit have been overall unsuccessful, and stresses as of late have had me enslaved again. Our church situation is almost nonexistent… we’ve been going to a cool little place and hearing God’s word preached clearly, but haven’t built any real relationships. Our friends (and people we WANT to be our friends) are generally well-meaning but do little if any reaching-out to us… if we don’t call and arrange something, it doesn’t get arranged. I’m trying to run a business, make a “real” living at the newspaper, raise a child, nurture a marriage, make music… and hopefully stay sane through it.

That’s the part that’s not working: the sanity. And cigarette after cigarette tells me it’ll calm my mind.

Anyway, I know (and have known) that my real sin here is in hiding… being addicted is more a disease than a sin, but pretending not to be is deception. I have hidden this from most people—how many of you are a little surprised to hear it?—have stretched the truth about it with everyone, even Shelley. I hate that I’ve done it, and yet I know that in mere hours, I could rationalize it again. And to rationalize is to desensitize, and how long does God and my rational brain and the medical consensus have to push-push-push until I get the drift?

SO: Beginning this day, I’m out of the closet. I am an addict—and I’ve no wish for qualifiers—but now it’s in the open. I’m praying for deliverance from this addiction, and I know from experience that God won’t hand it to me on some heavenly silver platter. Instead, everyone reading this has the chance to help me.

I won’t be blogging here too often, because I’m going to be breaking my addiction through an experiment in openness… it’s called Ashes of Addiction, and I’m going to chronicle the ups and downs of my struggles. If you want to help, then please visit every so often.

I pray each of you will forgive me, for my various hiding and/or lying and/or whatever… I’ve sinned not just against God but also, in a way, against anyone who thinks they know me. I ask, meanwhile, that you pray for me. That God would grant me victory over addiction, and give me something glorifying to do toward His work.

PS: Next time I’ll write something funny here. I promise. 🙂


1 Comment so far
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I will be praying for you. I have such struggles with my eating habits and exercise, etc… I enjoy the occasional cigar, and do not feel sinful about it, but I have at certain times if I hid it or enjoyed it in exess as an escape fron stress. Good luck buddy. Our prayers are with you.

Comment by Brandon Andrew Miles

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