#1 Addiction

Now that the intro has been written, it’s time for my first entry in the Confession Box.  This is a lot tougher than I anticipated, but here we go. *cue nervous laughter*

The topic during our Dgroup meeting last Friday was “Addictions Destroy – Replace Them” from the 4W’s series of CCF.  In summary, we talked about what addiction is (anything that shows itself to be a master over our lives other than Jesus, which also makes it an idol), its cost, how it hinders us from fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives, its cause (sin) and its cure (Jesus).

Then the kicker – we had to identify our individual addictions and pray for ways to overcome them.  Mine is a very obvious one, actually.  I’ve been a smoker for 15 years, not counting the brief times in between that I’ve stopped. My cigarette consumption in those 15 years varied, being much, much higher when I was younger, peaking during college and medical school.  Seems ironic, doesn’t it? At that time, I would consume around 1.5-2 packs per day (PER DAY!) especially during exam week.  It was mostly for jumpstarting my insanely early mornings and for staying awake.  While on duty in the hospital, I would sneak out, take off my intern’s blazer and fold it so that no one (patients or hospital visitors, at least) would realize that I was a doctor in training. In the past 5 years or so, I’ve cut back to a little over half a pack a day and rested on the thought that at least the problem is not as bad as it used to be.  That’s just something that I used to tell myself because, well, smoking is smoking.  As long as the exposure is there, the health risks are still very much applicable.

And then I decided to follow Jesus.  For a while, I thought, “Hey, Jesus accepts every flaw, I’ll just make it up in some other way” and I wasn’t really bothered about my habit.  But I kept coming across this verse:

19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Ouch. I literally imagined the Holy Spirit coughing up a storm in my smoke-filled lungs. After giving up on the thought of quitting smoking (I quit quitting, yeah.) for several years, I wanted to give it a try again.  So last year, I enrolled in the smoking cessation program of St. Luke’s Medical Center because well, I’ve tried quitting on my own and thought that maybe I needed something else like meds to give me a little help.  It was a little (okay no, a LOT) embarrassing to sit in front of fellow doctors to discuss the health hazards of smoking because they knew I was a doctor, and I already knew these things, but I was still smoking.  Well that’s the thing about addiction, right? You know you’re being shortchanged by that particular thing but you keep buying its false promises anyway.

For me, I was buying the false promises of higher productivity, but guess how productive I was when I ended up in the hospital for 3 weeks? Yep, a year ago today, I was hospitalized when my adrenals gave out.  Although smoking was not the sole cause of that, smoking certainly takes a toll on the adrenal glands.  And at that particularly stressful time, I was back to 2 packs a day.  In any case, being confined made me stop smoking cold turkey, which I tried to keep up after being discharged…and I did keep it up — for a grand total of 8 weeks. *sheepish grin*

So yes, here we are again, back to square one. I’ve been mostly recovered from that adrenal scenario, taking prednisone for hormone replacement.  I’m down to 1 cataplexy attack in the past month. I’ve been able to go out for errands, can drive for short distances, can carry both kids at the same time (!) and go to yoga twice a week. One year has made a lot of difference and I am truly grateful for that…but I still have this nasty habit.

Sometimes when I smoke, I get that familiar sinking feeling that I get before a cataplectic episode and it reminds me that my continuing to smoke is not okay.  My count is down to about 6-9 cigarettes per day, but I will work on cutting back further until I quit completely.  Seriously, I envy people who can quit smoking just like that and have not gone back without so much as a backward glance.

I will stop smoking.  This will happen.  And as Pia (our Mother Hen 🙂 ) reminded our group, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

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Introduction

I have been thinking about adding a section in my somewhat stagnant blog that deals about the things that I’ve said or done that I have since regretted.  With encouragement from my Dgroup (discipleship group) sisters, I opened a tab called “Confession Box” so I can write and reflect about my own shortcomings.  It may sound a little weird and I’m not sure how it’ll turn out, but the idea came from this Bible verse:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:19 (NIV)

Forgiveness and purification are just what anyone harboring a hidden sin needs.  Honestly, I’m after the purification part because I’ve been trying to kick an ugly habit that I’ve had for years and I think I’ve tried everything, but I still haven’t gotten over it.

Everyone has something that needs to be confessed; it’s just that we’re human, and we’re flawed like that.  But being human and flawed is not an excuse to stop trying to do better and BE better, or to aim for a higher standard.  Even during the times when I think I’ve been on my best behavior, pride would slowly creep back into my heart in a manner so inconspicuous that I’ll only be able to spot it on hindsight.  That made me realize that hidden sins are the most dangerous ones because they can wreak havoc in our lives long before we’re even aware of what’s happening. (Titanic, iceberg, yes?) I take comfort in including this Bible verse in my prayers:

12But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” – Psalm 19:12-13

Which kind of reminds me of a line from “Restore My Soul” (Vertical Church Band): “Reveal to me what sin remains, then lead me to the Cross again.”

Finally, I came across the devotional written by Max Lucado called “The Power of a Simple Prayer” and was inspired by his insights on confession (Day 3: Take Your Sins to Christ):

  • Give God your guilt. Give it to Jesus with this request: “Will you take this away?”. Do this as often as needed. One time, two times, ten times a day? By all means, hold nothing back.
  • Healing happens when the wound is exposed to the atmosphere of grace.
  • Confession is not a punishment for sin; it is an isolation of sin so it can be exposed and extracted.

I feel like that’s just what I need. The Confession Box is not for judgement because Jesus already accomplished that on the Cross (Romans 8:1); I’m doing this for accountability (mostly to my Dgroup sisters, but why not enlarge the circle, right?) and for introspection (ie. revealing my hidden sins to myself).  I’m also doing this in the hopes that I would find the moral support and also be able to offer the same to anyone who might be having the same difficulties (1 Peter 5:9), but most of all, to glorify God and to serve as a testimony of His faithfulness.

The Confession Box is open for guest posts, for anyone else willing to share their own experiences.  Just send me a message if you’re interested. Have a blessed Sunday! 🙂