Home > Unlikely Teachers of Spirituality > Unlikely Teachers of Spirituality: Smoking

Unlikely Teachers of Spirituality: Smoking

When I was young and growing up, I used to think smoking was sinful. I don’t know if it was my church environment or social environment, but somehow I thought that it was a sin to smoke. When I was 17, found Jesus, and started reading Scripture, I realized my perspective was pretty delusional. So, when I turned 18, I bought a pipe and tobacco and started smoking. I have thoroughly enjoyed smoking ever since (even though at times I’ve gone years without doing so at all). Smoking has taught me a few things.

One of the most powerful lessons smoking has helped me learn is sometimes I need to take a brief break. When I am alone, I can be a high anxiety person. It’s very easy for me to worry about finances, relationships, work I need to do, God’s will, my past sins, my past, my future, my present, my safety, others’ safety, the world, helplessness, weakness, fruitlessness, inadequacy, how the paper I’m writing is going, whether I’m going to get enough sleep, etc. My brain gets cluttered a lot too. There are too many things going on in my head sometimes for me to handle. I won’t bore you with another list, but I sometimes have so many different topics going through my head at once I think I’m going crazy.* For a long time the only way I knew how to handle my anxiety and overactive mind was to just keep going and wait until it went away. Smoking taught me a much better solution.

When I started smoking on a semi-regular basis (a couple of packs a week was probably my max), when I was feeling high anxiety or was thinking about so much I couldn’t productively think about anything, I would go outside for a smoke. After doing so, I would be calm, collected, and focused. I don’t think it was the nicotine that did this. Smoking provided an alternative activity from whatever I was doing, it helped me escape from my life and mind temporarily so that I could come back to my life and mind in a better condition to do so. During my cigarette, I would simply pray and bring my troubles before God, ask him to deal with them, then recenter on Him, His kingdom, what is really important, and what matters in light of the truth that God is king. When I would re-enter the reality of my circumstances, I was much more ready to deal with those circumstances like a new creation should.

Smoking has helped me converse with people. Many conversations with people I’ve never met have sprung up over cigarettes. It’s more comfortable to talk to people you don’t know when you’re both smoking because you both have an alternate activity and if the conversation is awkward, it only has to last a couple of minutes because there is an easy out. I’ve shared about who God is and my relationship with Jesus with more people who do not yet know him while smoking than in any other circumstance. Smoking can create a space for conversation that is inviting and unintimidating.

Smoking helps me learn the art of being with someone without talking to them. Sometimes, when people are tired of life, broken in spirit, and hopeless in heart, there just isn’t much to say. There aren’t any right questions to ask. They know the truth, they just don’t feel it right now, and they need someone to be with them and be available for them, but they don’t need anyone to talk to them. Smoking provides an alternative activity which facilitates a comfortable environment to sit with someone in silence for their solace.

Things I should probably say regarding some of the things in this series…

If you’re a follower of Jesus and you’re addicted to smoking (or anything), then you’re living in chains when Jesus wants you to be free. If you’re smoking a lot and it is damaging to your health, you aren’t setting yourself up well for being at your best to serve God in the future – the same goes if you’re eating ice cream all the time or living in lethargic inactivity. If you’re having a few drinks, that’s one thing, if you’re getting drunk or going out for attention from the opposite sex, you’re misrepresenting God. The point is there are points at which these activities, like most other activities, become a detriment rather than a complement to one’s relationship with Jesus.

*I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

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  1. June 4, 2012 at 8:07 am

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