Question:

Hello,

This whole year has been quite a nightmare. At the beginning of this year, I started to realize how I wasn’t living the right way. I wanted to start making changes in my life and be a better Christian. In hindsight, I went about it the wrong way. I was trying to “be better” in a very self-righteous way. It took me a while to realize this.

However, at the beginning of this year, I began having all of these blasphemous thoughts. It terrified me. Mostly because I wasn’t trying to have them, and I felt terrible for having them. Every time a bad thought would come up, I would replace it with a good thought. But this put me in a cycle of constantly doing this 24/7. I eventually started doing some research and found out I wasn’t alone and that other people have gone through this because of OCD. I, like many others, felt like I had committed the unforgivable sin. It felt so uncontrollable.

But I’ve made so much progress the past couple months! The past couple of weeks have been the best because I have finally gotten it under control. There have been moments where my head feels so clear like it used to before this all started. Your site has helped a lot. I come back to the site whenever I can feel a flare-up coming on and information you have put out, along with truths from the Bible, put things back into perspective. Just realizing that I know God doesn’t want anyone lost, including me, is a great reminder not to give in to doubts about wondering if God will forgive me. And realizing that the sacrifice Jesus gave was perfect and that he died for all sins.

I’ve had somewhat of a relapse in symptoms this week, and it has me a little down, but I can feel my head getting clearer because I’m working hard at not doing the compulsions. I’m doing a better job of staying positive and upbeat, as well as hopeful. Also, I have been doing a better job at just leaving it all to God and letting Him handle it whenever I feel a flare-up coming on.

Now to my question: Do you think it would be wise to go get my head examined -- perhaps an MRI? The reason is that this whole year OCD has put quite a strain on my head. I have had regular shooting pains (almost like an electric shock) in my head along with regular headaches and brain fog due to doing compulsions and trying to make the bad thoughts go away (while in the midst of a flare-up). I feel like I have exhausted my brain and sometimes it concerns me that maybe I have something wrong with my brain. Just wanted to see if you had any advice?

Answer:

Let me make it clear that I'm not a doctor. I teach God's Word and can offer you my opinion on some matters.

I'm glad the advice you have found on this website has been helping you. If I had to make a guess, I would suspect that your internal battle is making you tense and that is causing the shooting pain and headaches. Visits to a chiropractor might relieve those symptoms. However, your mentioning of having brain fog along with the other symptoms makes me wonder if there might be something physical going on. For that reason, if you don't find relief with the chiropractor, see your medical doctor and ask him what he recommends.

Regardless of the outcome, it will help you figure out what you need to do. If there is a physical cause, then you can seek treatment. If no physical cause is found, then you know you need to focus more on the spiritual aspect of changing your thought patterns.

Question:

A lot of the times I’m able to drown out the bad thoughts, knowing they are not true and just telling myself not to engage with them. I never want to purposely think blasphemies. I remember this all started when I watched a video on YouTube. I watched a lot of videos on YouTube and each person was saying different things about Christianity. Looking back, I was being tossed to and fro with wondering what was true.

Anyway, I watched a video from a guy and he was talking about how God will also judge you on your thought life. That got me scared initially because I wondered “who knows what all I’ve thought in my life.” So I decided “well I’ll just think good things all the time, no problem.” You can probably guess how that turned out. I feel like it falls in line with “don’t think about a pink elephant” type thing. Then that’s when the OCD got bad.

Recently, whenever I am starting to get happy or in a good mood, it’s almost like my brain will do whatever it can to remind me of the whole thing all over again. It’s like it is saying “don’t forget why you need to worry about this. You are not okay spiritually. You are not doing good enough. Do you think you would make it to Heaven if you died today?” That’s when I try to remember Scripture and God’s promises and not let those doubts get me down. Sometimes it’s just really hard, especially when my head gets so disoriented and it feels like I can’t focus.

I was baptized three years ago. Sometimes when I’m in a flare-up, it makes me doubt whether my baptism was valid or if my intentions were true. I’m ashamed sometimes because I didn’t live obediently following my baptism, and I don’t know if I was aware of what being obedient was like. But I knew while I was being baptized that it was to wash away my sins. I didn’t have a lot of Bible knowledge at the time. Sometimes I wonder if I ought to get baptized again.

I remember being very emotional before I was baptized because I knew how bad my mistakes were, and I teared up when I was in the water while the preacher was telling me about how God hates sin and doesn’t want anyone to sin, but sent his Son to save us. But I’m ashamed of how I lived and things that I found acceptable that are not acceptable. I know now how truly terrible sin is and why we must get rid of sin in our lives. I’ve corrected my behavior for those things, though, and have repented of them.

Answer:

The Internet is loaded with information, but the majority of it is not accurate. Locating the correct information is much more challenging. In regards to biblical knowledge, the church exists to help people sort out the truth from the myth. "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:14-16). All sources of information need to be compared against the one standard of truth -- the Bible (John 17:17).  The problem with videos is that lots of statements are thrown out but few pause the video to then check those statements to see if they are factual.

Judgment is based on the things that we do. "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds" (Romans 2:5-6). It is also based on what we say. "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37). But then, what we do and what we say are a reflection of what we think (Mark 7:21-23). God also considers the reasons why we do the things we do. "Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God" (I Corinthians 4:5). In other words, God's judgment will be very fair and accurate -- perhaps more accurate than we would like.

However, you have gone further and think that God holds every passing thought against us and that is not true. We know that we are all tempted (James 1:14-16) -- even Jesus was tempted. But you cannot be tempted if you are not able to consider what is being offered to you. In other words, perhaps the thought might go through your head, "I could just pocket that candy bar." The thought is a temptation. What righteous people should do is tell themselves, "No, that isn't right." Wicked people steal if they think they can get away with it. What you are doing is condemning yourself for being tempted. The temptation is not a sin, giving in to temptation is a sin. In the words of Solomon, that is attempting to be overly righteous -- more righteous than Jesus. "Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?" (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

True, Satan tries to undermine our faith with doubts, but we have to hold on to our faith. "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:6-7). I'm glad you are improving your life and have repented of your sins. Being a Christian is about a lifelong commitment to making improvements. We are never perfect (I John 1:8-10), but we strive to be better with each passing day.

Question:

Another thing I wanted to ask that is so confusing. I don’t desire these thoughts, but I try to battle them away by doing compulsions. I know they are unnecessary, but these thoughts are so ugly, blasphemous, and untrue, they almost make me freeze up. I feel that if I don’t do something {compulsions} to make them go away then I am committing a sin in my head by not doing anything. It’s like I don’t know when the line has been crossed from a temptation to sin. Sometimes it scares me because, in the midst of doing compulsions to make them go away, it’s like I get close to saying the thing I don’t want to say, so I catch myself before anything comes out. When that happens I feel so terrible. But it’s almost like there’s an urge to say the thing I don’t want to say, which I suppose is the temptation. Does that mean that technically I’ve given into sin when that happens? That worries me a lot because it makes me feel like I’m an evil monster.

Like I said earlier, the past few weeks have been great because I was ignoring the thoughts and not engaging. I tell myself to “just let God handle that” when it comes. There are words that trigger flare-ups, such as Satan, devil, demons, etc. Then when I pray and admit my faults to God, I feel peace for a while but then there’s a piece of me that feels bad because I’m always asking for forgiveness of this problem whenever I get into a really bad flare-up. I always apologize for repetitive prayers. I’m sorry this is quite long, but I’ve been wanting to ask this of a preacher for a while.

Do you think that by dwelling on these thoughts and then making me sad that I’m sinning by letting them dictate my feelings? There are questions that arise in my head, such as “what if you don’t have OCD, what if this is all coming from you and you alone and not because of a mental condition? What if OCD is fake and not a condition but just an excuse you try to find for this behavior?” I wonder sometimes if God is mad at me for the things that have happened and the reason I do compulsions, or if He is looking upon this struggle I’m going through with eyes of compassion, hoping that I will stop doing compulsions no matter what ugly things go through my mind and, just as long as I know they are wrong and I don’t desire them, to not flip out over them. I also think I should mention that sometimes even when I’m in prayer I’ll have bad thoughts come, and I’ll apologize when they do come. Then I think to myself “why did you just apologize again as if God didn’t hear you the first time?” I’m so tired of my feelings being a barometer for reality because I know I can’t trust my feelings because they are not an accurate representation of reality.

There are also times when I would hear my name being whispered into my ear even though I was alone in my room. it happened a lot over the summer when it was really bad. That was scary too because I thought I was developing schizophrenia or something. I made my mom miserable because I was always in such a sad state. That still makes me hurt. She’s been there for me every step of the way. She’s the only one who knows everything that has happened over the past nine months. But she also is the reason I was able to come out of my slump over the summer. She showed me some tough love, but it got me to not feel sorry for myself.

Answer:

Schizophrenia is when a person has a hard time distinguishing reality from imagination. I know several people with this problem and it is treatable with medication. When someone with schizophrenia is having a psychotic episode, they sincerely believe it is real while everyone around them knows that it is not true. Thus, if you had schizophrenia, you would be convinced the voices really were there. The fact that you know that what you heard was not there is evidence that you are not experiencing schizophrenia.

You do describe yourself as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is especially seen in your compulsion to do some rituals, such as prayer, to amend for uncontrolled pop-up thoughts. See I have OCD-Religion and obsess over bad thoughts. Is there anything you can do to help me? again. Please take note of some of the ways to deal with bad thoughts. One way is to say out loud, "I just had a foolish thought about ... I know this isn't true." Verbalizing your fears takes it out of the mind and into "reality." It makes it easier to deal with and you will find that you can be more objective about what is going on.

Like other people with scrupulosity, you ignore the fact that you are rejecting the improper thoughts. Instead, you lock up with fears that you might give in to the thoughts. As a result, you never let the thoughts go. By the way, everyone has inappropriate pop-up thoughts. The difference between you and most other people is that they immediately dismiss them and go on with their lives. You focus on them. But because you don't like the thoughts, I know you are not an evil monster.

 

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