My mother’s older brother smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes when I was a little boy. One time when he lit a cigarette I was watching in obvious fascination, and he saw the look on my face. He said, “you must never smoke because it’ll kill you.” I replied, “it hasn’t killed you.” He scoffed and said, “you misunderstand: if I ever see you with one of these in your mouth I will personally kill you!”

I guess I believed him because I’ve never tried smoking. Sadly, the cigarettes killed him over 40 years ago, but his warning was so strong that I still haven’t tried them.

Often when I work with counseling clients who are Poly-addicted to many different substances and processes, a lot of them have told me that the toughest thing for them to quit was nicotine. So I guess my uncle gave me good advice to never start.

On the other hand, he was right in a different way, too. Cigarettes did kill a part of me. He was still here for my college graduation and wedding, but I really wish that he had been there for my ordination, the birth of my children, or to hear me preach. His addiction killed a part of my heart.

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