“Please Lord; why do I have to go through this?”
I remember that day so well. I was lying in the middle of my living room floor, staring up at the ceiling and thinking; what if I never feel better? What if this is how I’ll spend the rest of my days? That seemed an unbearable thing. I felt certain that I wouldn’t be capable of doing that. Then another thought; “but what if He is asking me to do just that? Why would He ask me to do that?” I didn’t have answers to those questions.
As I continued to lie there, flat on my back, my arms outstretched and wide open like a bird that had been shot down, I decided there was nothing to be done about it. I had prayed and prayed for God to remove the horrid thoughts which had created such an agony within. Agony, which was ignited by these enormous doubts as to whether or not I was still His child. It was at that very moment that I made the decision to stop begging Him to take it all away. Instead, I began to pray in a wholly different manner than I had before: “Lord, I have no idea why I have to feel like this? I also don’t know if I’ll ever feel better and I certainly don’t know what benefit there is in all of this. The only thing I do know is that you, O Lord, are worthy of my trust; worthy of my submission. If you want me to feel like this, then I’ll feel like this, and even while I feel like this I will still do my best to obey you and to honor your name because you – are – worthy!”
Immediately after praying this I felt a measure of calmness that I hadn’t hadn’t experienced in quite some time. It’s not that I had any kind of reassurance or comfort that I would ever feel better. It’s just that I realized that in the midst of all the pain, I could still choose to trust in God’s Sovereign goodness. I could choose to follow Him with or without feeling the comfort of His presence.
Several verses came to mind after I had prayed: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”(1) Then: “Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” (2) These verses would provide the footing that I needed to just keep on walking. I knew that If anyone was to be trusted to always do right by me it was God. I knew that no matter how anxious or afraid I was, I could still strive to live for Christ in regard to obedience. As I got up from the floor I also realized that to do anything else other than to follow Christ would be to walk entirely devoid of direction or purpose.
Later that same day I decided to go for a walk in my neighborhood. As I was walking I took notice of how bleak and grey the sky looked. It really seemed to match how I felt. I longed for the comfort and joy of my salvation to return, but it seemed that I might be destined to walk on without it. As I was gazing into this desolate looking sky I spotted a very large bird soaring against the clouds. He just seemed to be floating up there; wings wide open and yet not even twitching a feather. Each time he circled to face the wind he’d go up even higher. It was at that very moment that it hit me that this is why the eagle soars. He doesn’t beat his wings against wind. He doesn’t turn away from it or tuck his head under his wings. Instead, he turns toward it; into it and opens up his wings. He actually submits to it. And when he does this, he mounts up higher and higher. Suddenly I realized that my God, in the most personal and tender of ways was affirming that my submission and obedience to Him in the experience of my storm was most assuredly the right thing to do. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (3)
Later on God would bring an additional confirmation that submission and obedience to God were in and of themselves evidence of a faith that is real. Why would a person even bother about these things if they didn’t have the faith to know that God IS and that He is pleased with our submission and obedience.
The day that I saw that bird, I was still wholly unaware that I even had OCD, let alone Religious OCD. It was later on, after I understood that I had this disorder that God would show me that He had helped me to make the right choice. After learning that I was suffering from Religious OCD, someone suggested that I read a book by John Bunyan: “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.” Many experts in the field of psychology have determined that Mr. Bunyan suffered from Religious OCD and this little book is his own personal account of all that he went through during that emotionally devastating period of his life.
As I read through Mr. Bunyan’s story, I marveled again and again at how similar our thoughts and feelings were. It was as if he’d been able to read my thoughts and feel my feelings. It was such a tremendous comfort to me! But, the most astonishing and affirming thing I read, came as I neared the end of the book.
Mr. Bunyan: ” ‘Twas my duty to stand to his Word, whether he would ever look upon me or no, or save me at the last: wherefore, thought I, the point being thus, I am for going on, and venturing my eternal state with Christ, whether I have comfort here or no; if God doth not come in, thought I, I will leap off the ladder even blindfold into eternity, sink or swim, come heaven come hell; Lord Jesus, if thou wilt catch me, do, if not, I will venture all for thy name.” (4)
Suddenly I saw Mr. Bunyan soaring just like the eagle as he opened up to this storm in submission, in patient waiting and above all else, in determined obedience. This, was for me, the most encouraging word I’d read or heard since I’d been so beaten down by my disorder.
Best of all when when the timing was right, God relieved Mr. Bunyan of his suffering and at the end of his life he was so comforted by the abiding presence of His Lord, that he became the comforter to all those who surrounded him on his death-bed. He knew He was going home to be with his Lord.
The joy and comfort of my own relationship with my Lord has also returned to me, though, for a time I had grave doubts that it ever would.
OCD certainly creates tremendous and excruciating anxiety, most especially when it latches on to the relationship which is the one which gives us our identity and our purpose in this life. But, OCD can only jab at us. It cannot take over our will. We can choose to obey, to submit, to open up and leave it to God to carry us through the storm.
To read more about my experiences with OCD visit my books page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Strivings-Within-Christian-Overcoming-Anxiety-ebook/dp/B00EP4ODPK/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1443273632&sr=8-15&keywords=OCD
(1) Genesis 18:25b. NIV, (2) Psalm 4:5 NIV, (3) Isaiah 40:31 NIV, (4) “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”, John Bunyan, Penguin Books, quote #337.