By Emilie Wall
I was walking my dog, Recis, on our normal route the other day and there was a passerby smoking. As he passed me, I held my breath and thought to myself, “Why do people smoke in public?” You see, I have asthma and it is triggered by smoking, cold weather, and other environmental things. However, there was a time when I didn’t know I had asthma.
Several years ago, when I lived in an apartment that was supposed to be smoke free, one individual didn’t like following said rule. The smoke came right through the vent into my bedroom and it was the worst at night. This went on for a couple of months. As time went on my lungs became worse and breathing became more difficult. My roommate at the time would wake up from me coughing (There are two different types of asthma: one where you wheeze and the other where you cough. I was the coughing kind.). She thought she’d have to take me to the emergency room, but that didn’t happen with her.
I asked the building manager to do something, but he did nothing to remedy the issue. I went to the doctor to see if there was anything she could do. She diagnosed me with environmental asthma, but it wasn’t until a couple years after that when I realized the severity of my asthma. I took my doctor’s note to the building manager and told him that I would be leaving with no penalty because they were breaking their lease agreement. He agreed to let me out with no consequences.
So, where am I going with all of this? As I was holding my breath, thinking, “Why do people smoke?”, a second thought came to mind. Smoking, to a person with asthma, is like sin in someone’s life. Holding our breath as we walk through someone else’s smoke doesn’t affect us very much, if at all. If someone sins around us and we “hold our breath,” their sin doesn't become a problem for us. We keep going on in our walk with the Lord and we breathe just fine.
However, if we linger around someone else’s sin (or someone hangs out with us in ours), the impact becomes even greater. Jesus is the Breath of Life, and we need to be breathing Him in continuously. The more we stop breathing in fresh air, the more polluted our air becomes and the harder it is to breathe. When we linger around sin, we are more likely to sin ourselves. We start to justify our actions and our thoughts. It isn’t until we are out of the sinful situation that we can start to breathe again. Fresh air enters our lungs. We are no longer gasping for air, our lungs begin to heal, and eventually we can breathe normally again.
I love how God has made our bodies to heal, but it isn’t without action. God has made us to heal spiritually as well. As we spend time in prayer, fasting, and reading His Word, we begin to heal our souls of things from our past. For some, additional help is needed. However, in many situations, we can repent of our sins and the Lord is faithful to forgive us for them. It isn’t enough to just say, “I am sorry” and continue hanging out in a “smoky room.” We need to leave the situation to regain perspective, repent, and seek forgiveness.
We may be freed and forgiven from our sins, but we are not free from the consequences of our sins. After I moved out of the apartment, my lungs began to heal, but I had to go on a special diet for a period of time to detox, use a steroid inhaler (which I still take), and carry a rescue inhaler just in case. It wasn’t enough for me to just move out.
Spiritually, once we leave the “smoky room” there are some things we need to do. It isn’t enough to just leave the sin, pray, and seek forgiveness. We need to take a “steroid inhaler” every day, and we need to take our “rescue inhaler” with us as well. What those are depends on the sin or the temptation. It will look different for each individual. “Steroid inhalers” may be spending time in the Word every day, praying, and joining in fellowship with other believers. “Rescue inhalers” may be fasting, mentorship, accountability, counseling, certain rules that you’ve set up for yourself, etc. All these are good things whether or not you are facing a “smoky room.”
May we breathe in the Breath of Life daily and continuously.