My 45-year-old brother can’t seem to stop smoking, even though he’s been diagnosed with the earliest stages of emphysema, a truly dreadful ailment that will eventually leave him constantly breathless if he doesn’t quit lighting up. I’d hate to see my brother tied by the nose to an oxygen tank. But I don’t want to nag or make him feel worse.
When I stopped smoking cigarettes some 25 years ago, someone told me this: “You have to learn to hug yourself.”
When I heard that, I thought, “Oh, what an absurd thing to say. Hug myself! Ridiculous!” But that’s because I was still smoking, still young enough to think I could beat the habit with ease. Once I quit, however, I felt I couldn’t go out to parties; I believed I couldn’t write articles as well, argue or even talk, since smoking was so incorporated into my self-image. I felt as though I’d gone back to my most insecure teenage years, the years when I started puffing, posturing, and looking around for ashtrays. Not a good feeling. So the “hug yourself” idea came back, and I did eventually learn to give myself psychologically soothing hugs of love by taking deep breaths and chanting calming mantras to myself.
I looked for smoking cessation prayers on the web today and there’s not a lot out there. Here’s one prayer I found with a country and Western beat (don’t click on that link though unless you want to see the most terrifying photo of a smoker’s lung):
Heavenly Father, hear my plea,
and grant my lungs serenity.
Give me strength to kick the smoking
that’s been causing all my choking.
Let my breath be fresh and clean
without a trace of nicotine…
You get the idea. Broaden the online search topic to “addiction prayers,” and you’ll find a lot more.
Dear God…I have tried to throw away my life, my body, my soul through addiction. But recognition of my addiction has never given me power to control it. You know this. You never blame me. You know the truth…Pain is transcended through an authentic calling from You. Therefore, I surrender myself, now, to You…
There is more; you can read the whole thing here.
Branching out, here’s a good Catholic smoking cessation source. And here’s a list of excellent Buddhist recovery resources that anyone can use to address addictions as unwanted attachments. Finally, here’s a general-interest smoking cessation guide with excellent links to other resources.
Do you know anyone who still smokes? Wouldn’t it be great if the habit truly became a thing of the past? Have you yourself quit and did you find your faith helpful when you did?