I’m having an OCD fit.
I’m a little OCD.
I am so OCD.
Obsessive Compulsion Disorder or as it is often called, OCD, has now become a cultural term. What can be a diagnosed mental illness is also used to describe a fit one may be having in the mind. People can even use OCD as an adjective to describe someone else.
I’m going to have an OCD fit!
He is really OCD.
The word obsession has become an acceptable cultural term, especially if you are obsessed about things that seem harmless. People become obsessed over their jobs and get promoted. Quite often, obsession becomes rewarded, as long as one is obsessed over the “right” thing. But it is healthy to be obsessed about anything?
I meet Christians who say they addicted to Jesus or obsessed with Him. Yet obsession is really a dysfunctional term, eluding to the realty that one has a unhealthy dynamic towards God.
Love in a relationship stabilizes us. Obsession drives us, consumes us and controls us without any groundedness. You can have a deeply passionate relationship with God, an all consuming fire working within you, without being obsessed.
We’ve Become Obsessed
The reality is that our culture is obsessed. Anything we do has to be over the top or nothing at all. Our thoughts match the speed of our lives; endless stimulation and constant hurriedness.
Our “love” relationships are not based on true love, but a desire for constant intensity, so we never settle into the peaceful groundedness that healthy relationships can bring. The reference for relationship becomes based more on lust than anything else.
Our obsessive thinking compels us into quick actions that lack wisdom, impulsive decisions driven by obsession and careless behavior. OCD has become a way of life. Like King Saul in Old Testament, we become driven by compulsion, rather than led by grounded thought patterns.
Somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 million people are diagnosed with OCD, but this is more than just a diagnosable issue. Its a modern plague of thought. People have become slaves to the thoughts that consume them. Most live their whole lives in silent torment, while others know of nothing else but to act on their endless ruminations.
As we move along I’m going to spiritually break down where OCD comes from and how it builds upon each other.
Two Main Areas
The first part of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the obsession. This is the repeating and revolving door of thinking that has a very narrow focus. It repeats so much that it becomes tormenting. It has captivated the attention of the person and has deeply woven itself into the neuropathways of the mind.
This obsessive thought pattern becomes so constant that it eventually demands action, which leads us to the compulsion, the second part of OCD. This obsessive thought needs an outlet, so it trains us to act compulsively.
Compulsion steals our ability to live with self-control, regarding our emotions. We become under its power, so instead of living out of self-control, we become controlled by compulsive living. The compulsion may be an act, having to constantly talk something out or ruminating over the same thoughts and issues over and over endlessly.
There are different extremes of this battleground. Many OCD issues can lie underground, as people utilize coping skills to keep this torment at bay. But they are never really at peace. Others see this build up so strong they have to act on it so constantly that it disrupts every day life.
A Modern Plague
Many are getting to the point where they are getting clinically treated for obsessive thoughts, because it has bound them so deeply. Their daily life is so interfered with and they don’t know what to do. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used to classify OCD as an anxiety disorder, but has now place this in its own category. I believe this is due to the rise of obsessiveness in the minds of our modern culture.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD, is characterized by recurrent unwanted thoughts. They involve obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. There is first an obsessive way of thinking, followed by a compulsion, a need to act on the recurring thought, with the hope it will be resolved or go away. Yet the compulsive acts only empower the obsession further.
The compulsions mirrors the thoughts—they constantly repeat. Repetitive behavior such as hand washing, counting, checking, cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so called rituals however, provides only temporary relief and not performing them noticeably increases anxiety. Most people who struggle with obsessive compulsive usually don’t really see it as a problem until it gets way, way out of control.
Maybe the obsession will cause the person to “over-talk” their thoughts with others. Their struggle can often consume the conversations with their friends, therapists and family. Loved-ones can often be at their wits end, because they have heard the problems a million times and don’t know what else to say.
People with OCD struggles may be plagued with persistent, yet unwelcomed thoughts or images. They may feel obsessed with germs or dirt and they wash their hands over and over. They may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly. They may have a need for cleanliness that goes beyond helpful organization. The obsession overrides relationship with people and normal living.
They may struggle with thoughts that seem so real, but are filled with torment. Thoughts that they might cheat on their spouse, hurt someone, hurt themselves, engage in inappropriate behavior or commit some immoral act can flood their minds and convince them they are just a nanosecond away form committing those acts.
They are them driven with the urgent need to engage in rituals, with hopes to relieve themselves of torment. Its a terrible place to be in when you become ruled by thoughts that create a horror-filled scenario. Most would say just stop thinking this way, but by this point, the person has become dominated by these thoughts. They are not just singular thoughts that vanish, they have become groves in their thinking that occupy most of their time.
People who grew up with a religious spirit are very prone to obsessive thinking. The religious pressure they were raised under makes them more prone to OCD-like ways. In fact, I have found those who grew up with a legalistic pressures, black and white thinking and law-based living struggle deeply. They see everything as all evil or all good, with no room for grace or process. They struggle with having a thought that would displease God.
I have sat down with countless people who struggle with this kind of lens. I developed this in my own life, and it took some for me to unwind myself out of it. I lived thinking that my every decision carried a weight of obedience or disobedience to God. I even got to the point where I would buy something at the store and come home thinking I disobeyed God in purchasing it. I became legalistically tormented by a simple store purchase. Too often, because of a religious spirit I carried, I always felt that if I wanted something, God did not want it for me. So I lived in endless double mindedness. This caused me to obsessed over many things in the day that did not matter.
So my heart goes out to people who battle these religious obsessions. I have sat with people who fast endlessly, with the hopes they will get breakthrough. Their desire to break free has become a dangerous obsession. Some go into deep seasons of separated prayer, while they neglect their families for weeks on end. I have counseled people who were convinced they committed the unpardonable sin. Others felt they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit and were doomed for hell.
Its so common to have these religious obsessions that they are now documented in mental health manuals. People fear they will commit a horrific sexual act, destroy their own marriage or urinate on the church wall. Every crazy thought that can be thrown at people is hitting them with vivid imagery, convincing the person this thought is actually a reflection of who they are. So people inevitably conclude, “this must just be the way that I am.”
This is why I believe many people act on dreadful thoughts. They cannot shake them, so they act on them to ward off the nagging images. This is why taking thoughts captive is more important than ever. The enemy is keen at giving you a a thought, while convincing you that the thoughts originated with your own mind.
Fear’s Role in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Understand the battleground of what the enemy is doing. He sends a thought and then makes you fearful of the thought. The fear increases a narrow focus. Fear also convinces us to live in a false peace. We try to create an entire world around us, base on the obsessions, that will help us find peace. But it is not a real peace, but a false peace. It’s a temporary relief, but because that monster is being fed. It keeps going and it builds the next time.
Our lack of safety fuels this fear. We become convinced, “if I just keep everything around me feeling okay, then I will feel at peace” but you’re never truly at peace. So then control becomes a way of life. The person becomes consumed with controlling; not their thoughts, but their environment. They become hostile with friends and family when that aura is messed with. Their preoccupation with order, cleanliness and symmetry become the dominant priority.
The Root Behind the Obsessions
The compulsion is driven by fear. The obsession is driven by addictions. The addiction is not to a physical drug, alcohol or habit. The addiction is a thought. The enemy uses an addiction spirit to fuel the obsessiveness. That’s the nature of addictions. When it gets fed, it only wants more the next time.
The OCD person is convinced the more they think and meditate on the obsession, they will eventually solve it. When in reality, they only make the thought worse and more tormenting. In order for me to get free of my obsessive patterns, I had to repent and renounce the ways of addictions. Most people with OCD have addictions in their family line, so addressing addictions and rejection are important. The person has been trained to cope with their brokenness by obsessing.
Rituals that Torment
Let me clarify something: healthy people have their rituals. Checking the stove to see if it’s off is ok. The question is are your tormented by it? Do you lack peace until you deal with it, only to deal with it over and over. Are your rituals interfering with your daily life and your ability to cultivate healthy relationship?
With obsessive compulsiveness, they perform the rituals even though doing so can often interfere with their daily life, while the routines become repetitive and distressing. Their relationships also suffer.
Even though they recognize what they’re doing is senseless, fear has trained them in compulsion to keep acting. The addiction spirit keeps drawing the person’s attention to the same thoughts. If that thought does not work, addiction will drive the person to another thought. Whatever it takes to keep the person in obsession.
Immersion and Facing the Problem
For those who compulsively act on cleanliness. The only way they’ll get free is if they want to be free. The more they justify their way of living, the more they will stay planted in their bondage.
But if they want to get free, they need to be immersed into experiences that break the pattern. For example, back when the Oprah show was on TV, they walked some people who struggled with cleanliness OCD out to the woods into a cabin. They had all the people put their hands on the floor of the cabin, kneel down and put their hands on the floor. After that, each person had to stand up and do the unthinkable. They had to lick their fingers.
You could see their bodies pitch a fit with the mere thought of licking dirty fingers. All of hello was breaking lose. At that point, they had a decision to make. Will I remain in my stubborn habits or am I going to take my life back?
OCD had trained them to become so germophobe, even though their actions did not even line up with science. Washing your hands over and over and using hand sanitizers every 5 minutes actually makes you more prone to sickness. People who use hand sanitizers too much are actually killing some of the good bacteria that actually help your immune system fight off bad bacteria. You might be destroying the bad with some Purel, but you’re also destroying the stuff you have on your skin intended to fight off good bacteria. But again, we have to remember, obsessiveness doesn’t always make sense. We think, I’m truly clean if I do this.
You have to understand that in your lifetime, you will be hit with the craziest thoughts known to man. Satan authors this, hoping at least a few will stick. It could be frequent violent thoughts of violence, harming somebody, persistent thoughts about horrid sexual acts, things that you dislike, thoughts that you’d be ashamed if somebody knew. One of the most helpful thing I am able to do for people, is that I am not thrown when they share with me the thoughts they have, of which they are so ashamed of. The first step to deliverance is actually disarming the power of those thoughts, and do it right off the jump. The more we are afraid of those thoughts, the more we empower them.
The enemy can project anything into your thoughts. If you give him room, he’ll take more room and send more. He will give you the thought, then make you feel condemned for having the thought. This is the one-two punch of the enemy.
You see, if you’re not discerning you’ll fail to realize this when the thought comes. It’s just a thought. Just because you have a thought does not mean you are that thought. You do not have to base your identity on the thoughts that come your way.
Cast them down and get on with your life. You can have the worst thought on the planet, but if you disempower the thought, by removing your fear and focus, you cause the thought to lose its power.
What I did was I gave myself a time limit over the thought. I could only dwell on it for a second and that was it. I did not allow myself to give anymore life to that thought. Even if my body was pitching a fit. Sometimes it would take a few days, but I refused to give anymore life to obsessive thoughts. Eventually the thought died and the enemy along with it.
Jesus Was in All Ways Tempted
Jesus wasn’t always tempted, so when we access the throne, He knows every temptation that comes to us because He faced them too. There’s no brand new temptation. The enemy is not creative. He’s been doing this for thousands of years. The thing that he knows works against you is probably what worked in your family line. He’s been following your family for thousands of years and he knows the dominant snowball traits of iniquity that are traveling down the line. But our Savior has overcome the enemy and made a way for you to do the same. Rest in Him. Allow yourself time where you are not thinking about a million things. Be content in the day to sit and think of nothing. It takes practice, but it is what is needed to change your chemistry to a rest-filled lifestyle.
Whatever It Takes
You have to have a “wahatever it takes” attitude with getting free. That made the shift for me, when I recognized what caused the OCD and how to really get free. But I needed to develop an “all-in” mentality to get free.
I said, alright God, if it takes me 3-4 years, I’ll do it.
Then the process clicked in and then I started making strides because I was in this like I need to get over this yesterday. I gave myself time to get free. You need to as well too. The good news is, freedom is available.
Summary of Steps to Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Here are some practical, yet very spiritual positions you can take when overcoming Obsessive Compulsive tendencies.
- Begin acknowledging areas of brokenness where obsessive thoughts come in to provide a false reality of finding peace.
- Begin breaking agreement with addictions in your life and your family line. Verbally repent of them and move your heart and mind in a new direction of peace and grounded thinking . . . one thought at a time.
- Break agreement with fear and this includes anxiety, worry and insecurity. Tear down the fear that drives you to find peace in obsessing or acting on those obsessions.
- Disempower the thoughts, knowing they are just thoughts. Disconnect them as being your thoughts or how you feel. Make them an enemy and see yourself separated from those thoughts. Let the thoughts just float right on by.
- Let God heal you in His love to fill the voids that obsessions consume. Rest in His safety.
- Face the fear that drives the obsessiveness. You repented of it, now face it! See every facing as an act of deliverance.
- Take in God’s grace and get out of black and white thinking that binds you to legalism. People who live in black and white thinking often fall into self-accusation and condemnation, as if heaven and hell are weighing over the smallest issues.
- Get around people who will partner with you in your freedom; those who will hold you accountable to disempower these destructive thought patterns.
- When others tell you to stop thinking about it and talking about it, don’t see it as a mean thing. See it as a act of love towards you.
- Allow yourself time to get free. Develop patience and learn to become your own best friend in this process. Stand your ground and don’t ever quit.