I remember a time when I was gradually easing my way back into being involved at church. Like many, I found myself out of the consistent flow, due to outside circumstances – work schedule got out of hand, and one missed Sunday turned into a whole month, and so on, and so forth. I am sure I am not the only person who has been there…
Anyway, I was invited to attend a young adults Friday evening meeting. Due to my lack of church attendance, I already felt pretty out of place. But I figured, thankfully I would have some pretty close girlfriends there, so I wouldn’t actually be all alone.
That evening there was a nice crowd – the whole front “meeting space” area was packed with a chair circle setting. I cannot remember the exact discussion in its entirety, but I know it got pretty heated between a young man and I on the action or lack of, the church should take on reaching out, etc.
At this time, I was a closeted Misty Menthol Light 120’s smoker (in the stage of trying to quit). But to all of the smokers, past and present out there, whether you smoke openly, or in secret, if the “right” situation sets you off, you will find a place to go light one up. This was the case for me that night, back in the early 2010’s.
I left the church property, and walked across the street to an unlit bus stop – It was about 8 pm during the tail-end of winter, so it was pretty dark out. I lit, and hit two of those dramatically long cigarettes off in less than 5 minutes. The whole time debating within myself whether I should wait at the stop for 30 minutes for the next bus and just be done with the evening, or shake off the frustration of that one heated moment, and head back in (all in all, it had been a pretty productive and unified evening).
I decided to return.
When I got back into the room, and returned to my chair in the large circle, I noticed two of my girlfriends low-key shift their chairs away from me – I forgot about the odor smoking leaves on clothes, especially right after a smoke!
There was one young lady to my left, who I was not particularly close with. We knew of each other, and were definitely cordial and friendly toward one another, but not that close friend status. This young lady, who I’ll call “Joss”, surprisingly did not shift her chair. She did not give me a dirty look of judgment either.
She just sniffed the air, looked at me and said “[my nickname], you smoke cigarettes?”. I nodded my head in sheer embarrassment. But all I got from her in return was a smile, and a “Well, we’ll just have to believe the Lord for your deliverance from that”. I gave her one of the most genuine smiles ever, and I sat upright in my seat for the rest of the evening, girlfriends shifted away from me and all.
I share this story to say, you cannot get help or true acceptance, if you are determined to hide your struggles from everyone. Like me, you may have those close friends that will shift away from you when it’s discovered or shared what you’re dealing with. But I pray that you will have a “Joss”, who will look at you with a smile, and believe with you, for your deliverance and breakthrough.
Stay encouraged :)