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SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS

Why I stopped smoking pot

"I felt myself being loved, appreciated, and cared for by God."

From the September 25, 2000 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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I Believed Marijuana Made me more intriguing, more mysterious, more substantial. Smoking the weed, I'd concluded during my high school and college days, was a vital ingredient in making me "the man." And I felt more comfortable and at ease when stoned.

At some point in the midst of this fog, I made friends with folks who were students of Christian Science. "Church?" I thought. I'd rather have been out searching for a bag of pot than sitting in a pew. It was only many months later, perhaps years even, that I got a wee little bit of understanding that I'd been putting more faith in a sometimes buzz than in myself—in the guy my family and friends loved and cared about.

"Me, out of control? That couldn't be," I probably would've said if someone had told me back then not to smoke pot. "Hey, I'm making the decision to smoke or not. It's no big deal. It's just marijuana. Everybody's doin' it. They're OK. Why shouldn't I? It's no prob."

Little did I know it then, but it took some pretty tough knocks for me to give moment to any sort of reevaluation. Why was it that despite several run-ins with the police over possession, countless arguments with my friends and family about being wasted all the time, and a distinct concern about the lifestyles and attitudes of the people who were dealing the marijuana, I still insisted that I was engaged in a perfectly legitimate activity?

I'd begun reading Christian Science literature and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, but just turning a few pages of metaphysical insight now and then wasn't really enough. Some way or another I was going to have to wipe the steam from the mirror and strive for better insight into my identity. The marijuana, it had become obvious, wasn't affording me any kind of permanent, continuous calm, poise, or self-respect. The character I'd been forging for myself was steeped in illusion and was a counterfeit. My behavior caused much heartache for loved ones, my family, and me.

Meanwhile, I started to get into the ideas written by the woman I mentioned earlier, Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote Science and Health and founded the Church of Christ, Scientist. I can't count all the passages in her writings that meant something to me—there are so many of them. But I can say that I found a lifelong friend in them as well as in the Christian Science Quarterly Weekly Bible Lessons, because they opened up the Bible and the teachings of Christ Jesus.

What was going on inside of me? What was happening to the way I looked at myself and the world? I was grateful for the life and works of Christ Jesus. In my moments of study and prayer, I found this peaceful sense of awe and deep appreciation for his life of love and gentleness, despite the crudity of the world he encountered. I also began to appreciate the Christians who learned from him and made it possible for the Bible to be passed along through the years and translated so that I and countless others could benefit from it. I found myself thrilled with the triumphs and brilliance of Mrs. Eddy's discovery. And I felt myself being loved, appreciated, and cared for by God.

As I grappled with the ideas I was coming across, I felt strengthened and empowered. I was learning things about God and His creation, about life and myself, that felt so right, so true. I was challenged by what I was reading to prove for myself that there actually is a practical, scientific application of the teachings of the Bible and Science and Health available to me and everyone for immediate use.

As I grappled with the ideas I was coming across, I felt strengthened and empowered.

This newfound knowledge was a proof of God's care. It made me feel good about myself. I began to feel that there was some power other than immediate gratification and that this power was as available to me as my very next thought. It wasn't my power, although it helped me to grow, and I could always, under any circumstance, turn to it, rely on it, and feel it nurturing and strengthening me. I couldn't use it to my own personal advantage, yet it gave me a calm, clear awareness that I was worthy of good and that I could expect good at all times.

I haven't smoked marijuana for almost ten years, after more than eleven years of often heavy pot smoking. I've been tempted a few times, but for the most part I rarely think about it. At one particularly difficult time in my life three years ago, I ate some cookies baked with it, after a rock concert, but I didn't have any desire for it after the effects wore off. Since then I've had no desire for it, and when it has been offered to me, I've had no interest in it at all.

Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: "... man is the image and likeness of God, in whom all being is painless and permanent. Remember that man's perfection is real and unimpeachable ..." (p. 414). I can't tell you how many times I've reminded myself of those words, knowing that for myself and for all humanity, the great spiritual fact is that right here, right now, God, who is pure Love, understands us as completely satisfied, totally at peace, and thoroughly fulfilled.

I also found another beautiful passage in Mrs. Eddy's writings that supported me and so clearly articulated something else that I had begun to understand—that the good that had been unfolding to my consciousness required a few things from me. One was that I try my darndest to really love God and see the good things about me that had been coming to my awareness through consistent study and prayer. She writes, "... Thou shalt love Spirit only, not its opposite, in every God-quality, even in substance; thou shalt recognize thyself as God's spiritual child only ..." And later on the same page she continues, "With this recognition man could never separate himself from good, God ..." (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 18).

The whole concept that I could ever find confidence and enthusiasm in the contents of a little plastic bag of marijuana has become foreign to me. There is no way I'll ever gain even a glimmer of real happiness or purposeful direction by lighting up another joint. Recreational drug use doesn't cut it any longer as a motivating factor. I can honestly say that it just doesn't measure up.

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