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I see a little girl sitting on her bed, writing in a journal that has stolen her freedom. She writes, “I will praise you and love you always.” To any reader it seems cute for a little girl to be so devoted, but she has written that same phrase at the end of every entry for months. Forgetting to write it means she has forgotten God and forgetting God means damnation. She is chained to that phrase.
After closing the journal she forces herself to stay awake for hours at night because she can’t seem to get the final prayer just right.
The next day she comes home from school and sits on her bed for hours instead of doing homework. Maybe enough time begging for forgiveness would prove that she is in fact saved. She failed to tell anyone about God that day, and wonders if she still knows him since she couldn’t muster up the courage.
…THIS is OCD?
That little girl grows up and hits puberty. Unwanted thoughts captivate her mind against her will. Mental images keep her from listening to the pastor on Sundays, and she wonders if she isn’t too far-gone.
The journal again reads, “The things and thoughts that have come to mind are frustrating, and not only that but impure and unholy. I’m not even sure how they get there… I keep asking God to forgive me for them and to erase them, but they haven’t gone anywhere.”
The teenager longs to be beautiful and to be seen, but wearing make-up means she hates how God made her. She wouldn’t dare cover up flaws, and avoids conversations where people might ask her why. They wouldn’t understand her need to deny herself with such intensity. Everything she does is to keep from selling her soul to the enemy.
…THIS is OCD?
She is in college now. Hours pass her by as she tries her hardest to ask for clarity. To her, a perfect God will never hear the imperfect prayers. She lies on her bed hoping to somehow stop the thoughts that keep her from praying. Instead they go on screaming, urging her to pray differently.
Then those same voices tell her that God can’t use her. They relentlessly interrupt her dreams for a future.
Once again her journal tells her story, “I am utterly frustrated that I let so many things distract me from you, God. I let my mind run as I discover how much I fail you. If this constant guilt and these doubtful thoughts are not of you… please, I beg you for change. I find myself walking far down a path, and I feel further gone than ever before”…THIS is OCD?
Now I see a woman with a silhouette of ghosts behind. She is twenty-four and taps her fingers to the silent songs that play over and over again. It is her only relief. She’s shoved every other trigger deep down, but this one she can’t.
The obsessions tell her that something isn’t normal about her impossibly high standards, but she yells at herself for feeling like serving God is torment.
Again she sits on her bed, still writing in a journal that claims her freedom. But today she has something new, “Is this really OCD? I’ve been exhausted my whole life. Trapped by God, but I thought it was normal. All this time, the torment, the guilt, the chains…I had no idea…”
…THIS is OCD?
People brag to the girl about her incredible faith, and her parents are proud of their children. No siblings rebelled, none “need counseling”, and the family takes no pity for having weak faith. She longs for healing, but this family has a legacy to uphold.
The little girl and teenager peer behind the young adult. Neither have any idea that those obsessions sheltered deep-rooted trauma.
Counseling sounds like freedom, but accepting flaw feels like hell. They are terrified to untangle the mess for fear of tainting the image she has tried so hard to keep. She is finally coming to recognize her struggle, but even that, at times, still feels like sin.
…THIS is OCD.
And that woman knows she is not as broken as she once thought.