I’ve been taking a hard look at why I continued to smoke for all those years, long after the immediate rewards had ceased. And I’m not talking about the chemical addiction, though that’s certainly real and significant. I’ve been looking at the permissive side of it all. Why did I continue to give myself complete permission despite the cost?
Every disappointment, every rejection, every frustration, every sorrow, every humiliation, every failure – every suffering from minor to major meant that I deserved a comfort. Sometimes the comfort was cigarettes, sometimes alcohol, maybe a fancy dinner or rich dessert, a new book or new shoes or new clothes, take myself out to a movie – whatever. My pain justified everything and anything.
God is showing me the root bitterness behind this entitlement and it’s enormous. In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that I deserve to suffer AT ALL. Any pain, no matter how small, is undeserved and unjust, so God is NOT good and life is unfair. It is the Great Lie and it is so very insidious.
Entitlement and irresponsibility are the resultant evils of my embracing the lie. If God is not good, then it’s His fault that I must turn to cigarettes (or whatever – fill in the vice or human goodness of your choice) to cope with this terrible life He gave me. “Surely God won’t begrudge this small comfort considering all that I have to contend with today.”
And of course, it rarely starts with a big, obvious devilry like smoking. I’m pretty sure that I began comforting myself with books as soon as I learned to read. In books I found an escape from my life. It was a way to disengage from the natural pain of growing up, and so became my first real coping mechanism. But my pursuit of escape was itself an accusation against God for my life. So the lie was seeded and nurtured, and it grew out of my heart and into my thoughts and behavior and character. That’s how it works. We sow as we choose because we think we can control the harvest.
I know that I’m not reinventing the wheel here, and I’m certainly not alone in believing the lie that God is not good. But I truly am astonished at the depth of my opposition to God. I really thought that I had a pretty good understanding of just how wretched I am, but I realize now that that was a mere glimpse of my insatiable self.
Only the Cross can save me from reaping the dark harvest of all I’ve sown.
From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder:
The seeds were too small to be seen on the ground, and you could not know how skillful a sower a man was, till the seeds came up. Father told Almanzo about a lazy, worthless boy who had been sent to sow a field. This boy did not want to work, so he poured the seeds out of his sack and went swimming. Nobody saw him. Afterward he harrowed the field, and no one knew what he had done. But the seeds knew, and the earth knew, and when even the boy had forgotten his wickedness, they told it. Weeds took that field.