SUFFER US NOT TO MOCK OURSELVES WITH FALSEHOOD
TEACH US TO CARE AND NOT TO CARE
TEACH US TO SIT STILL
EVEN AMONG THESE ROCKS
OUR PEACE IN HIS WILL
“Ash Wednesday” by T.S. Eliot is a deep and beautiful poem which I am not equipped to interpret except to say that some of its lines, such as its concluding prayer quoted above, apply incredibly well to OCDers. “Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood.” Exactly!
The falsehood lies in our “caring.” OCD sufferers care too much. What we care too much about is preventing harm from coming to ourselves and others. It is certainly important to prevent harm—indeed, we are commanded to do it. But it is not what matters most. Most important of all is our relationship with God—our trust, our faith. Without that, good works are meaningless, anyway. We need to care more about what is most important, and less about what is less important. We need to “care and not to care.”
The very thought that we should “not care” seems a blasphemy—it’s so bad it can make OCDers shudder. Yet it has been proven that the psychological trait that most closely defines them is a tendency to take excessive and inappropriate personal responsibility for harm that may occur to self or others. OCD is a disorder of caring too much. Sometimes we feel proud of it; we think we are so loving. But it’s not good, it’s bad. It indicates an excessive reliance on ourselves, and a lack of trust in God.
“Not to care” is part of the process of consecrating ourselves to God, setting ourselves apart from other concerns in order to be more devoted to Him. OCDers need to do this more than anyone. They need to purposefully “not care,” in the sense of taking less personal responsibility for harm. Unless we do this, we will drown in our fears. Some OCDers tell me it helps to remember throughout the day: “I’m taking too much responsibility. I’ve got to leave it to God.” Let’s stop mocking ourselves with falsehood; our peace is in his will.