Thursday, July 11, 2013

This Disease Called Perfection

Hey Friend,

Today, I am writing to myself because I am struggling.  Though this is a sort of therapeutic journal writing, I hope you can listen in and perhaps glean something from my ramblings?!

I have mentioned that I suffer from ocd (an anxiety disorder).  When most people think of ocd they think of people who compulsively clean or wash their hands.  In some ways I wish that were the case because my house would be a lot more tidy than what it is.  Instead I have a form that attacks the very thing I care about most - my relationship with God and His precious word.

I was reading a devotion yesterday that spoke about not worrying and not being anxious about anything.  These are definite "trigger" words for me.  My inner dialogue went something like this: " Oh no, I am not able to follow God's word on not being anxious perfectly.  I get anxious and do worry at times.  God must be disappointed in me.  I have to try harder to follow his word to the tee.  Others don't worry and cast their cares on the Lord...why can't I.  I'm never going to be able to get this right..."  And on it goes until my heart is racing, my blood pressure rises and I am scared out of my mind because I am sinning. And the really insidious part is that these negative thoughts obsessively repeat themselves over and over again in my brain and I can't stop them.  It really is torture!

You may be reading this and think...that's really crazy Bev.  Well, yeah it IS crazy.  Thus the reason it is categorized as a mental illness.  The neurons in my brain are not firing the right way and I get caught up in obsessing about thoughts that others are able to let roll off their backs.  It's a vicious cycle.

The first step is to Acknowledge a few things.  First, there are so many verses written in the Bible about fear and anxiety, not because God is going to condemn us if we fear or are anxious, but because God knows that we are going to be fearful and anxious at times.  He created us with the ability to experience those feelings.  He does, however, want us to "cast our cares upon Him". He also knows that we will not be "perfect" at casting our cares.  We may give them up for awhile, but then we often take them back to mull over them again ourselves.

For He himself knows our frame.  He is mindful that we are but dust.  (Psalm 103:14)

In essence, God knows our constitution.  He knows we are going to screw up and miss the mark.  After all He created us.  He knows us better than anyone.

He also knows that we are going to sin.  We will do the things we don't want to do.  But God, in his loving way provides a solution to our sin problem.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)

When I do feel like I have screwed up and have sinned...God provides a way for me.  I feel my heart beat a little slower when I realize that even if I have sinned, God tells me if I confess my sins, then He will purify me. I don't have to be perfect.

I also take comfort in the fact that I am not alone. 

We have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.  (Isaiah 53:6)

I am not the only "dumb sheep" that has gone astray.  I am in good company.  Maybe it's "miserable" company, but I know that I am not alone. 

The second thing, I believe, God would have me know is that I live under Grace not Legalism.  If I could do everything perfectly on my own, I would have absolutely no need for a Savior.  Every time I read scripture and feel a rush of condemnation, I need to remember that is precisely why I need a Savior because I can't follow the scripture perfectly on my own. It brings me back to a dependence on God and the grace poured out on me through Christ's blood.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God..." (Ephesians 2:8)

My heart calms a little more when I realize that I am under Grace and am not tied to the old covenant of the law.  Even better...the faith in God's grace is not something I have to muster up on my own; it is a gift of God.

Last of all the biggest "cure" for the condemnation that comes with perfectionistic thinking is grace in knowing Christ as my Savior.  This last verse is my mantra at times.  When the condemnation of the ocd weighs heavily on me I may often have to say this verse many, many times to combat the hundreds of times the condemning thought goes round in my brain.

Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Romans 8:1)

I feel the anxiety diffusing.  It's not gone, but it's better.  Thank you for letting me write to myself this week.  I pray that there is something? you can take away from my struggle.  Though I hate this illness, I am grateful that it always brings me back to an utter dependence on God which is where he would have me be.  Grace and peace to you my friend. You don't have to be perfect...God loves you just where you are.