OCD and Me
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- Format: Folded Tract
- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 6
- Version: NIV
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My Story with OCD
In my baby book, my mom wrote that I got paddled twice in the first grade at school! I didn’t let it bother me, though. It was nothing to worry about. I just kept going and enjoyed life.
Sports were a big part of my life, and I started bringing home awards from the summer camp I attended for boys. There was one award given to hard working, obedient, and helpful kids called the “Honor Camper” award. The next summer I was on my best behavior. I was a nice kid … extra nice. At the end of the week, however, I didn’t win the Honor Camper award for my individual cabin. Instead, it was better than that. The “Outstanding Camper” trophy was handed to me. Without realizing it, I was on the road to self-destruction … trying to be perfect.
Sure, being good had its benefits: trophies, awards, pats on the back, attention. However, by the time I became a senior in high school, cracks in my perfect veneer began to appear. I started apologizing for things that I wouldn’t have thought twice about many years previously.
When playing ping-pong with my brother, I would redo points because the ball may have hit the edge. In homework assignments my answers got longer and more detailed. I wanted “to be sure” I was doing things right. Perfectionism was becoming a part of my life. I was struggling inside. Becoming a Perfectionist was hard, and I wasn’t sure about things anymore.
My college years saw things go from bad to worse. I remember rereading pages from textbooks because I had to sign a document saying that I had actually read them. Eventually, because I wanted to “make sure” that I didn’t/wouldn’t cheat on a test, I would take my glasses off to “ensure” that I couldn’t cheat.
Outside of the classroom, I began to develop other habits of a worrier. I would wash my hands repeatedly to keep from spreading any germs to anyone. I remember checking a door lock over and over again to “make sure” it was locked. I always had to “be sure.” I wanted peace from my anxieties. I also wanted peace in relation to some doubts about God.
You see, I had always believed there was a God and that I was what the Bible called “a sinner.” The Bible clearly says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I mean, I got paddled twice in the first grade! I had done things, said things, and thought things that were displeasing to God. As a result, I asked Jesus to be my Savior from my sins at age 6. Verses like Acts 2:21 make it clear that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” from their sins and I did that at this early age. I had received this gift of salvation from sins through faith in Jesus, as Ephesians 2:8-9 states.
In college, however, I began to doubt my faith. I wanted “to be sure” and didn’t want to use “faith.” I even wondered if I really was a sinner because I tried to be so good. My spiritual doubts added to my ever-present anxieties and I longed for one thing in my life: peace. It seemed so elusive. Was Jesus God? Was the Bible true? What about other beliefs/religions? Many questions filled my head and caused me to wonder about my professed faith in Jesus. I was miserable and depressed with all my spiritual questions and worries in general.
One thing of interest happened during my last two years of college at UNC-Chapel Hill. I was put on medication for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a worrying disorder, to help control my need to act upon repetitive thoughts (Iike having to reread pages for classes or washing hands over and over). Although medicine wouldn’t help me with my spiritual questions, the lessons I was learning with my OCD would help me confirm an important spiritual truth.
One thing to understand about all the religions of the world was that in order to get to heaven, they all teach that one had to be good to achieve salvation. Because of my OCD, I knew that trying to be good/perfect had only brought misery, stress, worry, and pain. If there is one thing that people with OCD understand, it’s that trying to earn lasting peace is a never-ending search. Checking, rechecking, washing, rewashing. Worrying. Apologizing. It doesn’t matter.
People with OCD struggle with being sure about anything
However, there was one religion that was different. That was Christianity. It teaches that sinners like myself couldn’t get to heaven by being good because of all our failures. The Bible says that “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation Is a gift that must be received. The only way to heaven, according to the Bible, was to believe and accept that Jesus died on that cross for me and all my sins. Because I had nothing good to bring, there was nothing required of me—no good works whatsoever—just faith in Jesus.
Today, I have the peace of God. It’s not a temporary peace. No, it’s something that satisfies and assures me of heaven. Now, I’m not relying on a feeling—that would be foolish, as feelings come and go. Instead, I’m resting in Jesus’ death and resurrection which are historical events. His resurrection proves He is God and therefore His death is sufficient to pay for my sins. There is nothing for me to do to earn heaven. OCD is a pain, but without a doubt, it proves the Bible. Peace with God is a free gift and isn’t earned.
Now, my OCD is still something I have to deal with every day but God is always there to help me. The Bible teaches that all things work together for good. I didn’t enjoy those dark college days of spiritual doubts but it helped me in the long run. God gave me His peace and a story to share. Be encouraged. You can have His peace too by believing in Jesus. Do you have this peace and assurance of heaven? “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Trust Him today.— Jeff Rickert