Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Living Under Grace

I'm feeling anxious.  Not the debilitating anxiety where every second feels hard and I feel frozen and have to force myself to function.  No, this is the background-music-of-my-life anxiety that has been present for years.  The kind where I can still function well, hold a meaningful conversation, take care of myself and my family, fulfill my responsibilities...the kind that is just...there.

Today is a normal day.  Nothing planned except taking care of the kids, getting caught up around the house, solid activities on the schedule except for meals and naps (as requested by my 5-year-old).  After a crazy wedding weekend, we needed a day just to catch up.

The Pattern
My heightened anxiety today follows a pattern of mine.  Even when I feel well overall, it is very
tempting for me to give in to the OCD just a little bit (you can read more about this here), especially if it isn't really hindering my functioning at all.  But giving in eventually leads to a higher level of anxiety, which is where I am now.

I've been giving in the last few days to my scrupulosity, compulsively asking God for forgiveness and  struggling with reading my Bible.  The compulsive praying started this time on the way home from the wedding, and it's happened every day since.  I'm able to stop soon after starting, but it seems like the damage is already done.  I also feel like I have to read my Bible during the first alone time I have each day before I do anything else.  Sometimes that's at the beginning of naps, sometimes it's when the kids watch a show in the morning.  I've been doing ERP with this a little bit (not reading my Bible this past Saturday, not making reading my Bible the first thing I do during my alone time), but I wonder if I need to do more.

I was feeling fine, good actually, this morning, until I had that first moment of free time and I immediately read my Bible.  And then I started the compulsive praying.  I was able to refocus my brain (thanks for chatting on the phone, Mom), but the overall anxiety increased and still lingers.

Scrupulosity is tricky because it's how the OCD  affects my core beliefs.  It really bothers me that this is the case, because I want so badly to be close to God, but scrupulosity gets in the way.  And it's so frustrating that I give in to the OCD even when I know that's what it is and when I know that giving in makes it worse.  So. Frustrating.

When it comes to scrupulosity, sometimes doing ERP can seem counterproductive to what would be considered normal for others.  I mean, we always need to pray and read our Bibles more, right?

Not necessarily.  When it becomes about me DOING, I'm missing the boat.  Because it isn't about what I DO, it's about what Jesus has DONE.

How can I trust God through this?  Well, I believe that not giving in to the OCD is a way to trust Him and what He says.  He says that my salvation is not based on works (it's based on grace through Jesus and His death and resurrection).  That I can't earn it (He's given it to me freely).  That I can never be good enough on my own (I need Jesus).

I don't need to say the words, "please forgive me for ________________" for each sin I commit.   Repentance can look like bowing before God and having a broken and contrite heart for my sin.  And like turning from my sin and choosing to act instead in a way that glorifies Him.

I don't need to read a certain amount of my Bible every day in order to grow in God.  Maybe it's just one verse a day instead of one chapter.  Or maybe it's talking about a verse with a good friend.  Or maybe it's memorizing a verse.

I do think it's important to grow in Him through relationship - and praying and reading the Bible are part of that.  But if those things are getting in the way of my relationship with Him instead of bringing me closer to Him, then something needs to change.

UPDATE: See my post "I was wrong" about scrupulosity and OCD - changing my mind after getting advice from my therapist.

What are your thoughts?