February 23, 2001, marks the day I let go of my best friend, a companion who stuck by me for more than a quarter of a century. I could call on this friend and he would be there no matter what. When I was happy, we would celebrate. If I was grieving, he would quietly comfort me. When I was stressed to the max, my friend would be right by my side. No one could comfort me the way my friend could.
Our friendship didn't start on a good note. As a matter of fact, it was touch and go for awhile because, when we first met, this friend made me very sick. But I hung in there, and after awhile, things went pretty smoothly.
I knew from the beginning that this relationship might cost me, but I was sure I could handle it, confidant that I could walk away from it at any time. However, as time wore on, I was truly becoming dependent on my friend. After all, no one else could satisfy me when I was lonely and needed company.
During the twenty-five years we were together, I tried many times to ditch my friend, but to no avail. He was always there, nagging at me until I welcomed him back into my life. Afterwards, I would regret it and then beat myself up for starting up the relationship again. I was in a quandary because I really wanted to end the bondage of this friendship, but I just couldn't. It seemed impossible!
Then it happened that some serious trials came into my life like a flood, and no one could help me, not even my best friend. So, I got on my knees and called out to God. I didn't just say a quick prayer and then go on my merry way. I prayed long and hard, and when I got up, I was a changed person!
I continued to pray and read God's Word; using every opportunity I had to spend time with God. It was at this point that I was able to finally cut the ties from this dehabilitating relationship. What I was actually doing was transferring the time I was wasting on my friend to the One who gives life and freedom! Every day God gives me the strength and wisdom to combat this negative influence in my life.
What one needs to understand, is that my friend was probably the biggest deceiver and the worst enemy one could have in their life. His goal was not to help me, or comfort me. He wanted only to destroy me. I didn't realize the significance of my bondage until he finally was out of my life for good. My true friend was patiently waiting for me to come to Him so He could show me His ways, and He was faithful. His truth is what set me free.
Was it as easy as all that? No. It was the hardest challenge I've ever had to overcome. Because, attached to this friend are two archenemies named Rationalization and his brother, Justification. These two characters kept trying to hook me back up with my friend, and were very powerful. The spiritual battle between these two was far worse than with my original friend. Once the Lord showed me how to put on the Armor of God, it was a lot easier to win my battles with them.
Long-suffering and patience was one of the first lessons I learned when I prayed, asking for guidance. One doesn't just obtain patience; you have to be put to the test. You earn patience.
It's been almost seven years since I've been delivered from cigarettes. Do I still think about them? Sometimes, when I'm feeling vulnerable, a part of me wishes I could give my old friend a call and hang out for awhile, for old time's sake. But, I know if I were to let him into my life for one second, he would move in and take over, just like all the other times, so it's best to let bygones be bygones. Besides, Jesus Christ, my true friend, sticks to me closer than a brother and is with me wherever I go.
If you are struggling with a friend like the one I had, I pray that the words of my testimony will encourage you. God wants to set us free, to be used as a vessel for His glory.