OCD and Christianity

Matthew 10:16: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

All those who suffer from OCD have the feeling at times that they are sheep among wolves. Obsessions circle around and come from every angle, attacking relentlessly. People with more severe cases of OCD experience the onslaught of obsessional fears every hour of the day, sometimes almost every minute of the hour. It can feel like you are being torn asunder.

In Matthew 10:16, Jesus suggests that we should be shrewd in dealing with attacks from the enemy. Matthew Henry comments on this verse, “It is the will of Christ that his people and ministers, being so much exposed to troubles in this world, as they usually are, should not needlessly expose themselves, but use all fair and lawful means for their own preservation.” When dealing with OCD, it is important to think strategically– to have a plan.

The basic strategy in combating OCD is to learn to tolerate obsessional fears and resist compulsions. But one cannot go through the entire day in a frenzy of resisting compulsions. That is ineffectual and self-defeating. For most OCDers, it is important to develop a sense of when to fight a compulsion and when to “give in.” While it is important to try to achieve, let us say, a victory a day over OCD,  it is unreasonable to attempt to resist every compulsion. We must choose our battles.

Select which compulsions you want to fight. Identify the particular obsessional fears and the triggers that provoke them. Prepare yourself early in the day for the inevitable battles. Pray for the grace to resist the compulsive urge when it strikes. When the particular obsession that you have targeted hits, try giving your best effort at resisting the performance of the accompanying compulsion for 15 minutes.

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