I was always a daredevil.

I loved to bend the rules to see how much I could get away with, so I often landed in trouble. I just loved trying and experiencing new things. It started with stealing when I was young, then rebelling against my teachers. And as I grew older, I tried clubbing. I tried getting drunk. I tried smoking. I also tried getting into an unequally yoked relationship.

In my rulebook, I would set lines I wouldn’t cross. When guys touched me in clubs, I was fine. What was not fine was when their hands reached beyond my back, or them kissing me on the lips. I counted myself liberal, but with boundaries drawn.
I always thought I could get myself out of anything. Until smoking … until my first relationship.

I got involved in both at the same time because my ex was a smoker.

As I desired to get to know more of his “world”, and due to my own love of ‘fun’, I experimented trying cigarettes with a friend. My ex was also a Christian. He had backslid, but when we got together, he assured me he was going to make things right. I should have known better, but I refused to.

Soon enough, I was sucked into the whirlwind of fulfilling my physical desires. As our relationship progressed, we kept crossing boundaries previously drawn by me. I didn’t let him know my boundaries, I only told him I would never give my virginity away until marriage. But I kept adjusting the rules in my rulebook until I just wasn’t sure anymore.

The more I toyed with the idea of sex, the more I began to think it was okay.

They didn’t know much about my life then, yet they respected and loved me unconditionally.

As all this was happening, I felt torn between God and my boyfriend.

I knew the latter could only satisfy my fleshly desires, but I couldn’t let go. I was also very worried about my future as a young working adult. My thoughts were everywhere. In worship services, I would feel nothing but go through the motions. My heart was growing cold. I felt really alone.

Through it all, the sole silver lining was my friends in and outside of church. I maintained close contact with my cell group. In some small ways, I was anchored. They could tell I was not telling them things, but they didn’t pry. That was something I appreciated greatly.

As the relationship fell apart, so did I.

I didn’t think it would hurt that much. But now that I’ve experienced it, heartbreak sucks. Of course it does. Again my friends embraced me. My cell group became my biggest pillar of support. They didn’t know much about my life then, yet they respected and loved me unconditionally.

I committed myself more regularly to services and cell groups. I met my mentor more regularly for advice. I knew I had to get things right, starting with my heart.

So I finally wept. I cried into my sister’s arms (she was also a Christian and in my cell group), cried after work ended when everyone else had left – cried myself to sleep. Finally the many months of numbness unleashed a torrent of tears that stemmed from the emotions I buried.

The guilt I tripped myself with over and over for getting myself into this mess – I gave to Jesus. The hurt I felt from the relationship, I placed in His hands. The anger from the words that pricked my heart, I laid them all at His feet.

Even as I cried, I wasn’t sure if Jesus would someday really me of the agony within. There were just so many things inside of me that I couldn’t deal with anymore. In desperation I believed only Jesus could help me.

So that first time I cried to Him, I felt this strange assurance that I wasn’t alone. He heard me.

With time, my heart didn’t hurt as much anymore.

All I can say is that He healed me when I dared to ask – but I was still struggling with smoking. I eventually plucked up the courage to talk about it with my mentor. I felt really embarrassed, but she embraced me and helped me along my journey to quit.

Sometime later, I decided to let my cell group know about my failed relationship and my urge to light up as well. I was really afraid of stumbling fellow believers and that they would see me differently from now on. But they didn’t. They listened, they prayed, they continued asking after me and following up on what I told them. My heart opened up all the more.

So that first time I cried to Him, I felt this strange assurance that I wasn’t alone. He heard me.

I fasted. I prayed. I forgave.

He had healed me of my hurts before, so I ventured to ask God if He would remove my urge to smoke once and for all. But it didn’t happen. There were times I relapsed and lit up. It seemed inescapable. Yet I persisted. I continued to pray and still did my best to resist temptation.

When my colleague went for smoke breaks, I chose to remain in the office. My former smoke break buddy eventually stopped offering me his sticks. Though I heaved a sigh of relief, deep down, the desire for “just one more stick” hadn’t been quenched yet.

Today it’s something like a dormant volcano. As I carefully continue to walk into freedom, I praise Him for all that He has done. Because of Jesus, I am more confident about my future – I am more than the mistakes I’ve made. I am a child of God, whose mind is on the things on Christ, with Him as my life’s pursuit (Colossians 3:1-4).

When we desire to serve Him, and act on it like Abraham moving to sacrifice Isaac on the altar, the Lord our God is pleased. He gives us the grace, new oil and anointing that keep our lamps of light aglow.

I’m waiting for full healing, and as I do so, I know that each day of victory brings me a day closer to my Jesus.

I’m more of an adventurer than a troublemaker now. But for now, let me adjust the rules in my rulebook to take me closer to Christ.

The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.