I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I’m sure you’ve heard that line before. Well, today is the Great American Smokeout, and it’s your opportunity to try it again—to quit one last time. Take it from me, a former smoker, I know it’s hard, but I was determined to quit as I know you are. As much as others may hint or try to force you or bet you something (which I did once), it may not work. But there is always hope, and each day is a new beginning—just like it is with God, giving us the opportunity to push that reset button and start over.
Did you know that within 20 minutes after quitting smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop and 12 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal? Did you also know that three months after quitting, your lung function increases? And within nine months, coughing and shortness of breath decreases? (Check out this infographic.) And should you make it one whole year (and I hope you do) your risk for heart disease drops! These are great reasons to quit, and I have some ideas to help you fill the void—or urge—while quitting.
- Say a prayer.
- Read a devotion.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Go for a walk.
- Call a friend or family member.
- Check out the Women of the ELCA’s website.
- Write down all the ways in which you’ve been blessed.
- Unload/load the dishwasher.
You get the idea.
Find something else to focus on to get you through the cravings and routines you grown accustomed to. I know that if you let go and let God, God will give you the strength and courage to make it 20 minutes, 12 hours, three months, nine months, a year and beyond.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. When you make it 20 minutes, celebrate! When you’ve made it 12 hours, celebrate! And keep celebrating each time you resisted the craving or that usual time you would light up. I want you to feel healthy, like you could climb a mountain if you had to.
I pray God will give you the strength you need, and this will be your last time to quit.
Lois Bylund serves on the churchwide executive board. She lives in Moorhead, Minn., and is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in that city.
For printable materials and tool kits, visit the American Cancer Society website.