Being a Quitter

I would like to preface this by saying that this is a true story.  I’ve told this story before and usually, people don’t believe me.  But really y’all, it’s true…

I have another horrible little confession to make.

I used to smoke.

C’mon y’all.  Cut me a little slack.  I grew up in NC– a bonafide tobbaco state where after church on Sunday, most of the men would slip out and burn one off in the smoking section of the church yard.  Having grown up in that environment, in a family with several smokers, is it a big surprise that I tried it too? 

I was only ten years old when I smoked my first one.  I was the youngest kid in our new neighborhood.  The only other girl was five years older than me, but she was willing to let me tag along after her anyway.  And then one day, she offered me one of her mother’s cigarettes.  “It’s just a cigarette,” she said as she lit it and passed it to me.  I shrugged and smoked it.

I didn’t really start smoking regularly until I was a sophomore in high school.  All of my friends smoked.  All the guys I dated smoked.  I figured I might as well smoke too.

Throughout the few years that I smoked, I had two very vocal objectors– my older brother and my best friend, Kim.  They fussed, nagged, complained, and cajoled until finally, exasperated, I told Kim: “I’ll quit as soon as I finish this pack!”  She snatched it out of my hand, tore up the pack, and threw it into a trash can.

“Sarah Belle, you just quit!”  She beamed at me triumphantly.

She was only half right.  As soon as I started dating another smoker, I was fired up again.

I heard the evangelist, John Hobbs, once tell the story of how he couldn’t give up smoking until the day God said, “John, I’ve got places for you to go that you can’t go until you’re done with the Marlboros.”

God spoke to me through a doctor.

I was a musician.  A singer.  A vocalist.  I sang in choirs practically from the time I could form words.  And when I was in high school, one of my Dad’s church members anonymously paid for me to take voice lessons.  I was nominated two years in a row for Governor’s School and went to All State Choir.  For three years, I sang in the chorus of Handel’s Messiah with the NC Symphony Orchestra.  Singing was all I ever wanted to do.  I applied to East Carolina University, UNC-Wilmington, and Methodist College as a vocal performance major.  I was accepted to all three.

The summer before I was to start college, I got a terrible cold, which turned into bronchitis.  When I went to my family doctor, she looked me in the eye and said, “The cigarettes are causing damage to your throat.  If you want to sing, you’ll quit smoking.”  That’s all it took.  I put them down and never looked back.

I ended up taking four years off and changing my major.  That’s another long story for another day.  But the lessons that I walked away with were these:

Only God can move a person to really change.  We love to yell and scream and stomp our feet to get people to become who we want them to be.  But only God knows who a person is supposed to be and only God can put the desire into a person’s heart to become who they are supposed to be.

When God moves and we move with Him, we WILL change.  My friend Eliza has always told me, “It’s okay to be where you are as long as you don’t stay there.”  And it’s true.  In Christ, we’re either moving toward Him or moving away from Him.  My goal is to be like Adam and Eve before the fall, when they walked with God in the cool of the garden.  To walk with Him, I have to change.  And as I walk with Him, I WILL change.  Sometimes that change will be painful, but sometimes, if I’m really focused on Him, I won’t notice the change until I look back and realize that it’s happened.  I LOVE it when God works that way!

When we change, God can take us where He really wants us to go because nothing is holding us back.  If you’ve gotten to this point in the blog and feel like I’m slamming smokers or saying that they’re going to Hell, please let me clarify.  I don’t really believe that smoking is going to keep anybody out of Heaven.  What I am saying is that it’s a person’s heart that’s the issue.  We can’t hold onto anything harder than we hold on to God’s hand or else we can’t go where He wants us to go.  Smoking was only one of these obstacles in my life.  Some days it’s pride or fear or selfishness or unforgiveness that holds me back.

I want to live Hebrews 12:1. 

Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Barbara says:

    Well said Sister Sarah….as usual….. We do have to make sure we hold on to His hand every day.. We all have things that we need to let go of in order to do that.. And as you said when we do God can “change our stars” to quote a line from one of my favorite movies..and take us where He wants us to go..


  2. I’ve been trying to quit tobacco for years. It’s in my blood, I guess. My dad started when he was eight. Still, you know you’ve got a problem when every pair of jeans you own has the imprint of a Skoal can in the back pocket.

    Mark Twain said that quitting smoking was the easiest thing in the world to do because he’d done it a hundred times. I can sympathize with that. And I’ll get there one of these days.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, all of us have challenges to we must overcome. Some may be physical, as smoking, others are emotional/mind—-Worry, anger things that are found in our hearts and are not quite visible to the naked eye. We all need to leave them at Jesus’ feet and try not to pick it back up. This is a struggle that will be overcome one step at a time. A verse from God’s word that helps me daily is found in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, But Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ” (RSV)

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