So I recently went through a pretty serious separation from a close friend and romantic interest. It's amazing though how looking back on it I see things so much clearer than I did when I was actually going through them. It's almost like I couldn't see the forest for the trees. Hinesight is 20/20 as they say. My friends have been telling me how much more stable and even restful I seem, and I actually agree with them (don't get me wrong. there is a certain sadness and mourning that comes, and I don't mean to downplay that). Two of my friends today have used the word toxic in reference to the relationship. Also, they both pointed out how I revert back to my normal self when that toxin is no longer there.
So, of course with my analytical and allegorical mindset, I started to relate the whole experience to quitting smoking. Firstly, despite how unhealthy and unattractive it is, most smokers can't give it up. You can tell them a million times that it's killing them and yet, their addiction usually stays with them. They can't refuse it. If and when they finally do decide to quit, the first few days (about 5) are absolute hell. They're beyond stressed and worn out. It impacts every part of their life for those few days. Here's the part I'm really interested in though. If that (now) ex-smoker has just one cigarette, the odds of him getting addicted again are tremendously high. Furthermore, his odds are higher than if some one who had never smoked before smoked one.
One more point. After a great amount of time (usually 1 year or more), the smoker can be around other smokers and control himself, even be fine.
I think this is a lot like sin. At first it may seem fun, attractive, and even addictive. We can get so stuck and so ruled by fear that we can't even see it for what it is anymore. It's killing us but we're blind. Then, if we ever do give it up and refuse it, the first few battles are the hardest to win. Once we've one them though, we experience part of the life of a conqueror. You can't however, ever return to that sin and expect to not be overwhelmed by it- or at least not until a lot of time has passed. It's like you're on the edge of a steep hill. Once you take one step, you're likely to fall all the way down.
How do we avoid falling down? Don't take the first step. What if you've already taken the first step? Find a brother or sister to help you up. Bring your sin to light, for sin can not dwell where light dwells. What if you're stuck in sin right now? Our God is an awesome God. A God of abundant grace and redemption. Seek Him in humility, confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, and get around people who will encourage and strengthen you. After all, even Jesus needed 12 men to keep His strength up.
I do pray that this entry finds you in good times and good spirits. If not, I have seen and firmly believe in the Master who sets slaves free, and in the Spirit whose perfect love casts out fear. If you'd like to meet them, ask me about it :)