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1/23/2006

PROGRESS

It gnawed one grandmother's nose from her face. It consumed my other grandmother's pancreas. It melted my grandfather's organs so quickly we're not sure which one it began feasting on first.

Cancer.

Cancer from smoking. From inhaling smoke. From inhaling the smoke exhaled by others.

Every eight seconds someone in the United States - a mother, father, friend, child - dies using as directed a legally manufactured product. They often die of cancer. From cigarettes.

Stupid people die. Stupid smokers - I've thought before.

I don't easily understand why an adult with a radio, a television, a newspaper, common sense, with any information from the last twenty years concerning the fatal effects of tobacco would raise a cigarette to their lips, set it on fire and inhale their venom into their lungs and bloodstream. I don't easily understand, but I understand. I do now. I understand why David smokes at least.

No such poll has been conducted to my knowledge but nine out of ten doctors I'm sure would agree that cigarettes are a healthier alternative to heroin. I've never lost a grandparent to heroin yet I know from stories like David's its hooks are longer and sharper and it's death more gruesome than Marlboro's.

David smokes so he won't shoot up. That's progress. I met David tonight at a homeless program, and as is the case with many jubilant recovering addicts I've met over the years, David was eager to tell me his story of regret and redemption.

Pot. Acid. Mushrooms. Cocaine.

Heroin.

Lost job. Lost house. Lost hope.

Jesus.

Lost drugs. Found smoking.

Then church. Church - a place where David felt like a stupid smoker and not a healed heroin addict.

David has me looking past my dead grandparents tonight, past the burning paper/failed IQ test in his hands, past tonight to his past. I'm seeing the mountain of progress through the smoke. I'm seeing myself more clearly.

I'm reminded that there are more than a few warm vices in my own hands these days, unhealthy alternatives to the more dangerous poisons of my yesterdays. I hope someone doesn't write me off as stupid because I stumble over these. After all it was only yesterday I couldn't get up to stumble. That's progress.

Be patient with me and David. Be patient with yourself. We're all getting well, one addiction at a time.

19 Comments:

Blogger Andy Hunter said...

I agree. My mother smokes, and I can see that it is a step up from the food-assisted suicide track that she was on.

1/23/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for that story and testimony.

I would also like to thank others here and Shaun for playing a important part in unknowingly helping me kick the smoking habit. Blogging here and a few other places gave my fingers and mind something to do in between various tasks. vices are a hard thing to break-especially for creative minds. they provide a sense of security, bliss, and escape which make them all the more difficult to quit. It is good (and fortuitous) to find something to replace it that directs you to the Lord and others.

ill be honest though, i still do miss smoking at times. but my wife doesnt miss it and i wont miss the cancer in 20 years (or 10) so i geuss i can handle the withdrawl!

so thanks again...and God bless us...everyone. (sob)

Seth

1/24/2006  
Blogger Duda Mano said...

Shaun and Seth,

Thank you both for youe tetimonies. I don'st smoke and never did, but I do, most certainly, have other vices... and I feel stupid about them.

Thank you for making me feel less stupid.

God bless you both.

In Christ,

Eduardo Mano
Rio de Janeiro | Brazil

1/24/2006  
Anonymous Heather in IN said...

Wow. What an awesome point. Though David's addictions/problems are out there for the world to see, I have problems that no one in the world knows about except God.

Really, which is worse? Admitting you have the problem and letting everyone see it or hiding it inside so no one knows?

Just some thoughts that came to me....

1/24/2006  
Blogger Stephen said...

I'm reminded of the lyrics to Jewel's song "Pieces of You"...

1/24/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

i'm glad you met David.
Sorry about your grandparents.

1/24/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Awesome testimony! I too have vices, some which have the potential to kill me too (overeating, no exercise, many poor food choices, etc.) I grew up considering myself pretty good as compared to others because I never smoked or drank or used drugs, had sex outside marriage, etc., but as others have said, my vices and sins are well hidden (well maybe not, as my weight increases!). My biggest one is the piousness that's mine and more often than not, is quite visible to others too unfortunately. My comfort in not actually showing Christ to others as much as I should may cost them their souls one day, and I'll have to answer for that! That's one comfort I'm trying daily to get rid of and feel less and less comfortable with! I think I'll start with the two people in my office who smoke!

Beth

1/24/2006  
Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

Funny...this piece made me think of one of my favorite songs .

Both of them make me cry. Excellent writing does that to me.

n

1/24/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Shaun... I couldn't agree with you more...

brody

1/24/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life." -- Brennan Manning, Abba's Child

1/24/2006  
Blogger Malia said...

You have such a gift, a talent for writing...lyrics and blog posts! Thank you for putting words to the things that I often think about but find myself unable to articulate.

1/24/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been told that nicotine is more addictive than heroin. But, progress is progress on David's part.

I watched my grandfather slowly die of emphysema, only to find out 4 years later my brother started the habit. Cancer sticks indeed.

AS

1/24/2006  
Blogger andrĂ© said...

I'm glad you wrote (and I read) this. and I'm glad you met David.

Thanks.

God bless.

1/24/2006  
Blogger Kathy said...

I have a friend I am going to send this to. I want him to stop smoking so bad!! I do not want him to die of lung cancer. Thanks!

1/24/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

wow.

thanks.

1/24/2006  
Anonymous Chris Morris said...

Reminds me of this from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, Book IV, Chapter 10, "Nice People or New Men":

If you are a nice person--if virtue comes easily to you--beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. ... But if you are a poor creature--poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels--saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion--nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends--do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day ... he will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all--not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.)

1/24/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

Wow. Great post Shaun. What a wonderful new perspective.

1/24/2006  
Blogger Bill said...

People are made unclean by what comes what comes out of their heart. Jesus is very inclusive. Who among us is not included in verse 22 or 23?

Mark 7:18-23, "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")

20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"

1/26/2006  
Blogger Randy Elrod said...

The David in me thanks you...

Randy

1/27/2006  

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