I started smoking when I was 15 years old. I quit on my 35th birthday after it dawned on me that I had been smoking for 20 years. Twenty years is a long time to do anything. I started again at the end of 2014 and quit again one week ago today. So yeah, I was smoking on the down low for just over 2 years. Some people knew, but not that many. I kept the secret from everyone who didn't have to know.
I am not really sure what made me start again after 11 years, boredom probably and on some level I don't think I ever stopped missing it. It was stupid and damaging and I was living a huge lie.
I work with our health ministry and I encourage living a healthy lifestyle while smoking every day. This is hard to admit and I know I am going to disappoint a lot of people whose opinion of me matters. But I also know that these people, while they will be upset and disappointed, will not stop loving me. They will correct me, and rightly so, and maybe even suggest that I stop working with the health ministry, as would be their right to do so. And if they did, I would accept it and ask no questions. Because carrying around that lie has done more to damage my right standing with God than anything else.
And I want to be right. I want to live the transparent life that I am always talking about. And one step in that direction is to let go of the secrets and lies that hold me back. And we all have them. We all have that thing, whether we did it to ourselves, or someone did it to us, that keeps us from actually being free.
And the time is now to start revealing these things. You don't have to have a blog to let the past go. You have to have a trusted pastor, mentor or friend. You have to have someone who hears with God's ear and sees with God's eyes. You have to have someone with the compassion and grace that comes from having a relationship with the Lord. Call that person, text that person, go to their house and unburden yourself.
Let God begin to do the work of healing you from your past and allow Him to find a way to use that past, that pain, that lie, that secret to push you forward into your destiny. Telling it won't kill you. Revealing it won't turn those who love you away. Opening up won't sink you lower, it will free you. Free you to turn the page on your past and reveal a fresh unwritten page of your future. Pastor Darryl's has been teaching about turning the page so I won't take credit for this amazing analogy.
As I finish this blog and prepare to post it, I am afraid of reactions. But I know that God still loves me. And I'm sure many of you do too, but in reality I'm beginning to see that I love me as well. I love myself enough to expose myself in order for my soul to be free and to show you that you can do it too.
This is from The Message Matthew 14:24-26 "Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?"