It probably seems strange to anyone reading this that I would take the time to write anything about cigarettes. However, this was the only true "addiction" (that I am aware of) that I was convicted to quit yet experienced major struggles to stop.
I was the guy that you saw (and smelled) in church that had to smoke a cigarette either as soon as I got out the door, or as soon as I got in my car. As embarassing as this habit was, it simply had an incredible grip on my life.
I sensed others looking at me, and could imagine them thinking how horrible I was... calling myself a christian - yet not being strong enough in my faith to simply quit something I knew was wrong. I should note here, that even now I distinctly remember loving elders in the church coming right up to me in the midst of my "smokey" smell (or even with a cigarette in my hand) and they would talk to me with great compassion - totally ignoring this obvious "short coming" in my christian walk. These same people never mentioned to me that I should quit, or that "real christians" don't smoke... they simply loved on me and encouraged me in my new walk of life.
The christian people that were closest to me were pretty direct, that I should not be smoking... but no matter how many times these people that I loved told me I should quit, it simply did not have any affect... their conviction was not my conviction.
What caused my initial "awakening" or conviction? From the time I became a christian I began listening to christian radio (music and preaching). A preacher simply pointed out that we should cast ALL of our cares on GOD. I had heard this several times before, but for some reason... on that day... it had a new meaning to me. I began to think about how every time something uncomfortable happened to me, I always went for a cigarette first (in addition to after meals, after waking up, before going to bed, after taking a dump, after watching a good tv show... you get the idea). If I was to really cast all of my cares on GOD, then the next time I had an issue I knew I needed to turn to GOD and make sure cigarettes weren't in the picture.
Well the revelation was the easy part, the hard part was trying to figure out how to quit. I can't say how many times I threw a fairly new pack of cigarettes out the window (saying "I quit"), then later running to a 7-11 in the middle of the same night to get a new pack. This time was different... I had a feeling to truly cast my cares meant that everytime I had an urge to smoke, I was to take that urge to GOD... so I did. Every single time I had an urge I took time to pray to GOD, and I took that same time to pray about other things besides smoking. For good or bad, I don't ever remember praying so much in a two week period of my life. The end result was worth it.
Even to this day I still get urges, especially when "the chips are down"... but by the grace of GOD, cigarettes are no longer a part of my life (22 years and counting).