Anyone who knows me knows some of the next part of my story. In 2001, after experiencing freedom from severe OCD for nearly nine years, the bully returned with some friends. At the time, I was an obsessive legalist. I prayed and read my Bible for an hour a day, I fasted once a week, I tried to tell one person about Christ every day, I gave 10% of my income, attended church faithfully, and was diligent in accountability. This may all sound good, but I was getting worn out and burned out. These things hadn’t brought me closer to Jesus, but I felt driven away. I had trusted in my works, and not Christ’s work, for my righteousness. I was dying.

I began to sink into spiritual burnout and depression. In such a state, I was vulnerable to my weaknesses and the attacks of Satan.

One morning, I stood in the kitchen looking at my beautiful little daughters, and a thought popped into my head: “You’re going crazy and are going to lose your family!”

I hated the thought. I tried not to think it, but it would not go away. It was stuck in my head.

I began to debate this thought and the anxiety was overwhelming. I wondered if I was becoming a danger to myself or others. I searched for reasons and evidences that I wasn’t actually going crazy, but the farther I sank into depression and anxiety, the less confident I felt that I wouldn’t end up institutionalized. I was certain I was on the brink of insanity.

This went on day after day. I would wake up, and within 10 minutes, the anxiety and obsessive thoughts would enslave me again. I was a prisoner of my own mind. I was diagnosed with depression during this time.

Every story I’d ever heard of people going crazy, whether someone I knew or someone in the news, was used as ammo against me. My ritual? I would research their stories and try to find something about them that made me different. I couldn’t end up like them, right?

I tried “taking every thought captive” (as I understood it), praying, fasting, counseling, speaking in tongues, spiritual warfare, et cetera, but nothing helped. I was spiraling into a deep, dark hole. I began losing weight, suffered insomnia and daily headaches, and felt hopeless. Eventually, I was so debilitated that I had to take six months off from ministry.

I had small encouragements from the Bible and from my dear wife, who was an angel to me during that season, but for the most part, I was completely defeated.

I knew I had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Anything I read about it made me feel like I was looking in the mirror. But when I looked online for comfort or encouragement, I found none. It seemed to be a hopeless condition. The Christian community was strangely silent, offering no understanding or comfort of any kind. On the contrary, the Christian community seemed freaked out by it. (That’s one of the reasons I’m writing this blog series—in the hope that someone that’s in the bondage of OCD might find encouragement from a brother.)

During this time of hopelessness, another obsession joined the party. Because I felt like God failed me, another thought popped into my head: “You’re an atheist.”

Was I? I mean, deep down, pretense and wishful thinking aside, did I even believe in Him any more?

This presented new fears, ruminations, and anxiety. If I lost my faith, would this be the death knell—the fast track to insanity?

I was so scared.

After seven months in this condition, I didn’t know how long I could go on. I began to have suicidal thoughts. I never had a serious plan to do it, but I would fantasize about it—especially versions where it would appear I’d done something noble, like preaching on the dome of Mecca! One day I told the Lord, “If I have to live like this, it would be better for me not to be here. Please let me die.”

All of this was God’s means of uprooting self-righteousness and self-sufficiency, and preparing me to have a revelation of grace—what I now call a “grace conversion.” I needed to see my own depravity to see His strength; my own insufficiency to see His sufficiency. Eventually, God visited me powerfully and rescued me. I’ve documented this well in other blogs and in my books Enoch Walked With God and Discipleship By Grace. My goal in this blog series is to tell the OCD part of the story.

I asked God for wisdom, as James instructs us (James 1:5). Though I steered clear of the psychiatric community for many reasons I won’t go into, I felt impressed to get educated more thoroughly on OCD. I read books, articles, websites, and found much of the material enlightening and confirming. One of the most confirming things was my choice to stay away from anti-depressants and other drugs. Many that study OCD recommend “cognitive therapy”—a lofty way of describing counseling and taking control of the mind—to treat this condition. (One note…no condemnation for those who do take prescription drugs as sometimes they are merciful.)

I learned some extremely helpful and amazing things which, along with my growth in the gospel, God used to pull me out of the dark hole I was in. Next blog, I’ll get into more of what I learned. I hope it will help any reader battling OCD and educate anyone who has a friend or family member with this affliction.

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