On today’s episode, Carrie sits down with Michael Kheir, the author of “Waging War Against OCD: A Christian Approach.” Michael shares his personal experience with OCD, shedding light on the challenges he faced. He delves into how faith and a deep understanding of God’s grace were pivotal in his journey towards healing and recovery.

  • The importance of reducing stigma around mental health, particularly OCD and anxiety.
  • How OCD can lead to obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, even over seemingly insignificant matters.
  • The impact of strict religious upbringing on OCD and the concept of legalism.
  • The power of understanding and embracing God’s grace in dealing with mental health challenges.

Related links and resources:

www.wagingwaragainstocd.com

More to listen to:

Transcript

Welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD, Episode 108. My name is Carrie Bock, and I have the privilege of interviewing some interesting people on this show and hearing their stories. One of the things that we are focused on is reducing shame, so I interview a lot of people—Christians who have personal stories with OCD or anxiety.

Today, here I have Michael, author of Waging War Against OCD: A Christian Approach, and Mike was kind enough to send me a copy of his book so I could read it. People don’t always do that—sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. That’s the secret to being a podcast interviewer. I feel like it goes much better when I understand the book and have read it.

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Carrie: Welcome to the show, Mike.

Michael: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Carrie: This is your personal story, really, of OCD and the things that you found that helped you. And I saw, as you were writing it, that you had referenced a lot of other books that you read on OCD—books that were Christian, books that were secular. But it sounds like you’ve done your research over the years.

Michael: Yes. I think I started reading about the subject a lot when I was about 24 or 25 years old. The first one that I read was Grace of Bounty by John Bunyan. I think my mom actually found it somewhere and gave it to me, and I remember I started crying when I was reading it because it was immediately relatable to me, and I thought it was so cool that somebody that was used that mightily by God had a very similar struggle. I kind of felt like God probably used that struggle to use him in big ways. That was really encouraging to me, and then from there, it was 2007, so we had iPhones, and the internet was very accessible, so I just started googling and researching a lot and found some stuff, but not enough that made me feel like everything that needed to be said on the subject had been said. That’s sort of what motivated me to move forward and start writing.

Carrie: In the book, you tell many relatable stories of how OCD affected you, starting in childhood and then going through adolescence, and adulthood. Would you mind sharing one or two of those?

Michael: Sure. I’m going to bring one up because we might come back to it.

There was one that happened in college, a bunch of kids from our church. I went on a spring break trip, and we were all sort of sharing living spaces. The guys had like an apartment, the girls had an apartment, and I remember I was in our apartment and there’s like a living area and I was talking to some of my roommates and then a guy and his girlfriend walked in and at some point, I remember thinking, my shirt untucked I need to tuck it in and I think I like unzipped my pants just a little bit, tucked it in and then zipped it back up. No one would think anything about it because we were in a living area. It was a very laid-back environment. I don’t even think I was close to any of the girls, but that one girl was there. I just remember obsessing on that and thinking, if she saw me do that, that would be horrifyingly inappropriate as a Christian man to do something like that, and I just obsessed on that idea not immediately, but probably a week after we got back from the trip. I just started obsessing on that, thinking I was in the wrong.

Every time I would try to read the Bible or pray, I would think, I believe it’s Matthew 5:23 that says, if anyone has an offense against you, leave your gift at the altar or your sacrifice at the altar, go make it right, and then come back. Every time I would sit down to pray or read my Bible, I would think, it’s like all OCD.

There’s a 1 percent chance or a one in a million chance that this girl’s offended because she might’ve seen it and she might’ve interpreted it wrong. This went on for, I think, a couple of weeks and I eventually was like, the only way I can get rid of this fear, the one in a million chance I offended her is to apologize, which, in part of my mind, I knew was completely insane, inappropriate, and like, she would be like, what on earth are you talking about? So, I knew that in part of my brain, but I just couldn’t get rid of the fear that I was in sin. I think I emailed her boyfriend and said, if she saw this, I’m really sorry.

My heart is pounding as I’m doing it because I know how crazy it’s going to come across, but I did it and the moment I did it, it was a very powerful moment in my life. I realized what I had just done was not at all, like, relieving in the sense of, okay, I’ve done the will of God. It was more like that was not right.

Something about that was off and that helped me, that was kind of a pivotal moment in my journey of realizing that giving in to every compulsion to remove the one-in-a-million chance of something happening was not the right approach. That’s the big one that sticks with me a lot.

Carrie: Were there any stories that your parents or others close to you didn’t know about until you started writing these things down?

I guess I was thinking that there was a story about you being concerned about suffocating your stuffed animals and they had to be tucked in just a certain way and you’d lay there in bed at night and like losing sleep. Like, did your parents know any of that was going on in your mind?

Michael: I would say that one they may have known, but there were so many that they did not know.

I can’t think of the ones offhand, but I would say most of them, they did not know until I was an adult. I remember sitting in a parking lot, talking to my brother in my 20s, and I was explaining some of the thoughts I was having, and they were all OCD thoughts, and they were overwhelming me, and I remember he goes, you have thoughts like that?

He knew I had OCD, but I don’t think he had any idea of what the toll it took, and how it looked in the brain, and that’s sort of what I really tried to convey when I told my story, is like, when I’m sitting in that moment, these are the thoughts going through my head, and even my mom, as she’s read it after it’s been published in the last couple weeks, has said, man, I’m learning a lot, and I think she knew most of it, but she probably didn’t know how to deal with it and ended up either suppressing it or just kind of putting it in its own little compartment in her head because it was Something she didn’t know how to deal with to help her child.

Carrie: That’s so great one of the reasons I love this show is because we’re able to break the stigma and talk about some of these things when you’re in your own mind having those obsessions There’s this element of feeling so alone and disconnected and nobody else understands what it’s like to live in this mental gymnasium.

Michael: Absolutely. I think part of the stigma is that mental health issues make you less than or less intelligent and I almost look at it like LeBron James, the best basketball player in the world right now, if he had an injury, we wouldn’t say, that guy is such a terrible basketball player. We’d be like, he has an injury and he has to recover from it or he has to compensate for it.

I see mental health the same way. It’s like, I have OCD. That doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent or I can’t function in society. I went to college. I got a master’s degree. I have a decent career. It’s just viewed. Incorrectly by a lot of people in society and in the church, of course, to which we will probably get to, I hope.

Carrie: I’ve met many people with OCD that I would consider incredibly smart, thoughtful, intelligent, and that ability to solve problems in their head that works well in other scenarios, like whether it’s people that work in software or computers or engineering that they can’t use that same type of logic and problem-solving and solving these obsessions and compulsions, which is frustrating because they’re good problem solvers, typically in other areas of their life.

Michael: Absolutely.

Carrie: One of the things that stood out to me in your book was the weighing the 99.99 percent versus the 0.01 percent.

Michael: Right. I want to touch on another story. I believe it’s chapter two where I go through my life story and it’s about another basketball player. Keep coming back to basketball. I was taking pictures of Michael Jordan, not as a professional photographer, but from the stands.

Me and my friend had gone to watch him. This was after he had Unretired the second time. I think it was 2002. He was playing for the Washington Wizards. So, we got these high-up nosebleed seats as the game wore on, and a lot of people left. I think it was a weeknight. So, the crowd just thinned out, and we kind of snuck down to some really good seats.

I think we were 10 rows back, right behind the side where Michael Jordan was scoring. So, he goes up for a dunk. I get a really good picture of it. I’m super excited. I go home. I develop the negatives. They’re really good and then I realize, what have I done? And I go through this long list of condemning thoughts.

Number one, I’m cheering for a team with a mascot, the Wizards, and again, these are all in my mind. I know these are all one in a trillion chance of being wrong, but it doesn’t matter that it’s one in a trillion, it’s still a chance, and I’m obsessing on the chance. So by cheering for a team with a mascot called the Wizards, there is a one-in-a-trillion chance I’m supporting witchcraft.

I snuck down to the cheaper seats during the game, so now I’ve cheated Ticketmaster. Whoever deserves that money, I’ve now cheated them. It goes back to a very similar situation with that spring break trip that I had had several years earlier. I’m trying to read the Bible, I’m trying to pray, and I’m immediately thinking, I’m a thief, I stole from Ticketmaster or the Washington Wizards organization. I am just a terrible Christian, essentially, for promoting such an evil mascot. Again, I just want to reiterate that these ideas sound crazy, and I knew they were crazy in the intellectual part of my brain or mind, but I could not separate the fear from it. The one in a million chance that it was wrong is kind of what drives OCD and drives the compulsions and the obsessions.

Similar to what I did with the spring break trip, I decided I needed to repent of this before I could continue in my relationship with God for a couple of reasons. One, if I am promoting this witchcraft, then I’m possibly deceived.  I’m sitting here reading the Bible, but I may or may not be interpreting it correctly in my mind.

I may be thinking, that God is promising something in this verse, but it doesn’t apply to me because I’m deceived. I’m under this cloud of deception because I’m promoting witchcraft. So I decided to make a list of things to do to repent. I’m going to call Ticketmaster, find out the prices of the cheaper seats we went down to, and pay the difference between what we paid and what we did down there and where we had sat.

I was going to stop cheering for the Wizards. Could I promote a team that’s involved in witchcraft? I was going to, the hardest part was to destroy the negatives. This was back when we had film and negatives, and destroy the photos, and then I’d have fully repented. And then when I go and read my Bible and pray now, I know that I’m not under some influence of deception or in sin against God.

After I had gone through that whole process for probably four weeks, I read something in Galatians that caught my eye. That said, “Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you,” which means who has deceived you, that you should not obey the truth before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified.

This is the only I want to learn from you. Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish, having begun in the spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? And I was completely caught off guard by that because I immediately realized all the things I had just listed out that I was going to do to be made right with God again were works.

I was going to pay more money, I was going to destroy negatives, I was going to stop cheering for a team. Those were the actual threats to being deceived, and I realized in that moment, it probably wasn’t a moment. It probably took a few days, but I realized that doing all of that work was not a risk-free situation. Meaning I was not going to do all of those things to become undeceived, which would then take the chance of being deceived down from one in a billion or one in a trillion down to zero. I was actually doing these things and the chances of being deceived were going up. They weren’t going all the way down to zero from one in a trillion.

Over time, I’ve realized there are so many things where we think we’re doing a compulsion to remove the one in a billion chance of something bad happening and we’re increasing the risk of the bad thing happening. I know this initially sounds like complete hell to somebody with OCD because you’re thinking, great, now you’ve just given me more scenarios to worry about, and more scenarios that I’m just going to become compulsive about. What I realized is that as Christians, our walk with God is all by grace and when I can acknowledge  I’m not exactly sure what to do, I should maybe go destroy all these negatives and stop cheering for the Wizards, or maybe I should just walk by faith and not worry about that because that’s what the Bible says. Once I can sit in a place of having to trust God because I don’t know exactly what to do, then I’m in a place where I’m walking correctly with God, and that is so freeing. Because it’s saying, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do, and now I can be at rest and not think that I have all these hoops to jump through to be made right with God again.

Carrie: I would normalize that as a human experience of not always knowing what to do.

Michael: Absolutely.

Carrie: Some things are very clear, defined in scripture, don’t do this, yes, do this, but there are many other things that may be personal decisions about, “Do I move this year? Do I move next year? Do I not move? Does God want me to stay here?” Those types of things that we really have to wrestle through that maybe don’t have just one right answer right now, or we’re unsure of, and that’s okay. It’s hard to sit with that discomfort or the unknown piece, though.

Michael: And I think this goes back to a general issue that a lot of people with OCD have is an obsession with what is God’s will. This hit me a lot, sometimes even now.  I remember in college, there were just limitless choices about everything. Should I go eat at this dining hall or that dining hall? Well, what if I go to dining hall A, and I was supposed to go to dining hall B, and I was going to bump into someone that I led to Christ, who became the next Billy Graham? By not doing God’s will, 500 million people are going to go to hell in the next generation because I didn’t go to Dining Hall B, which sounds very arrogant and presumptuous, but again, it’s all based on a fear of I might be causing all this harm, not necessarily I’m so capable I can impact things in that way.

I think another part of the freedom that I’ve come to that I talk about in chapter eight and in chapter nine, God’s grace is what frees us from that. We’re only at the bottom of all of those fears. “God is harsh, God is judgmental, and God is not for me. If I mess up just a little bit, he’s going to whack me over the head as hard as he can.” But once we realize that he’s kind and loving and gentle with us, then the fear of should I go to dining hall A or dining hall B becomes almost irrelevant. It’s like God loves me if I have a child now. If my child made a tiny error like that, she went to my bedroom instead of her bedroom to look for something.

I’m not going to be angry if she went to the wrong bedroom she’s my kid I love her and there’s just so much grace and understanding in that relationship and I think that’s what ultimately leads to long-term freedom.

Carrie: Tell us about how having a child helped you have a greater understanding of God’s grace and I resonate with that as well with my daughter. There’s just something that you feel as a parent of just that sense of, I love you and I’m for you on your best days when you’re so well-behaved and on your worst days, when all you can do is scream at me, I’m still here for you and I still love you.

Michael: I feel like it’s almost supernatural and it’s part of being created in God’s image. He loves us so much, and God the Father loves his son so much, and you just see it all through society. Even the worst of the worst people love their kids, it’s just totally ingrained in us, and I think that’s totally because we were created in his image and the same was true for me when she was born. It was just this overwhelming sense of, I love this person unconditionally. It was more than emotion. It’s more than just the will. It’s just, almost supernatural, I would say. She’s now six and a half years old. As that relationship has grown, I’m starting to see so many areas where I’m like, that’s totally how God sees me.

She’s just had a rotten day. I love her just as I did yesterday when she had a great day. She’s just so pleasing to me, and she brings joy whenever I get to see her, and whenever she walks in the room, whenever I pick her up from school, and I think we get that intellectually in church. We know God is gracious, God is good, God loves us and it’s in our head. Very successfully, it gets to our head. Getting to our heart is much harder and I think having a child made it get to the heart a lot, a lot faster than it would have.

Carrie: My daughter teaches me stuff all the time. I was telling one of my clients and we were talking about sin and grace and God’s love for us and I was saying my daughter started walking roughly around 12 months and I think she was 18 months at the time. I was like, she’s been walking for a little while, but she falls down a lot and I’m not talking about a slight stumble. I’m talking about how your face is about to hit the floor and your hands just barely caught you from face-planting.

It made me realize that in our walk with Christ, we see that when we fall God is saying, “Can’t you get it together?” Whereas it’s more like, “Okay, get up, you fell, get up, let’s move forward. Let’s keep going.” It doesn’t mean that you have to get out of the race or stop running. Just kind of dust it off and move on.

Michael: Absolutely. That is such a good picture and so much closer to reality. I feel I think as we become adults, we think there’s so much in our control and our capabilities are so high, and we’re probably a lot closer, at least our spiritual capability, like that. We just fall and fall and fall, and God’s trying to show us that it’s His grace that keeps picking us up and moving us forward.

Carrie: When you were able to examine your own OCD, did you kind of define it as legalism, or this is kind of like the legalist part of my brain? Did that have anything to do with strict church upbringing or not?

Michael: I would say yes, and I don’t want to knock on my parents or my grandfather who was a spiritual giant in a way. He grew up in Egypt and came to Christ at 17 and started a church at 22 and just had an amazing, amazing ministry in Egypt and then also when he came to the U.S. My mom obviously was heavily influenced by him and he was a huge impact on my life. I would say that there was definitely the culture difference.  Number one, because they were from Egypt and formalities are a big thing there and also just our parents trying to protect us because they were so culturally different when they got to the U.S., they basically had the mindset of anything we don’t fully understand we’re going to protect them from. Even watching certain kids’ shows, like on TGI Friday, I don’t know if you remember TGIF Full House, and like there were some of those shows that were a little bit too much, we couldn’t watch those, and rock and roll was bad, tattoos were bad, long hair on men was bad, just a lot of things that they decided, let’s just cut these things off, so definitely, I would say my upbringing led to or fueled some of that legalism and OCD getting mixed.

Carrie: A lot of times I find there’s a rigidity sometimes that people are raised in, and it doesn’t always have to do spiritually sometimes it has to do with kind of things that you’re saying, just like the household rules.

You have to load the dishwasher this way, or if you did something different, it’s wrong. Don’t hang out with anybody that’s doing that thing over there. I’m curious though, a lot of your stuff was scrupulosity-related. How did you come to decipher, okay, this is God speaking to me, or I know this is something God wants and, or this is OCD because this is a question I probably get asked all the time. How do I know if I’m coming under the conviction of the Holy Spirit or if it’s OCD telling me, you need to repent, you need to confess, you need to do this, that?

Michael: One thing that really led me to not give up trying to figure out that issue was how many times in the Bible God tells us basically to test ideas. I wanted to just mention a few of them 2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. He’s basically saying you’re having thoughts and you can acknowledge them as being of God or not of God.

One of the biggest ones I liked was, for the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart and I thought, well, sounds like the word of God is the answer to this question. Where can we get a level of discernment like this? and Division of Soul and Spirit? I read some theology, and it seems like that issue in and of itself is very complicated, but it’s almost like a promise from God, like, He’s saying you can actually understand this, and parse these thoughts from each other, using my word.

Another one is 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things, hold fast to what is good. 1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world and that’s talking more about, obviously, actual people saying things that they maybe shouldn’t, and testing what they’re saying versus the word of God, but it also applies to our minds. That led me to think, where is it in the Bible? He says that in the Word of God, or you’ll be able to use the Word of God to decipher all this and I really came down to three passages that I thought did it for me. Galatians 5:22 and 23 say that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control against such things there is no law.

I thought to myself, If I’m listening to thoughts, and they’re eventually leading to actions, go evangelize to that person over there, they’re gonna go straight to hell. Well, is that thought from a God that’s producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control in me?

I kind of start breaking it down and I say, well, is that a gentle thought? Not really. It’s more of like a demanding, do this right now, do this right now. Which is then catalyzing really in a compulsion to go evangelize right this minute. So now I’m throwing self-control out the window. Was it brought to me in kindness? Not really. I think back to a time when I felt God called me to move. I did five years at Virginia Tech, and in my fourth year, I was in this nice, like, air-conditioned, upper-class dorm room and I just remember thinking one day, I should probably move to this all-freshman. It was this gross, non air-conditioned, freshman dorm. It kind of hit me for a couple of days, and I was feeling the same things, like, kind of guilt, is this really God? Confusion and I remember just looking up one day, I was praying, and I was facing it, it was probably a couple hundred yards away, and I could see it out of a window, and God’s peace just really came over me.

I was like, “I actually want to move there, that actually sounds like a good idea.” I was motivated, and it really sounded like the Spirit of God. I would describe experiencing the Spirit of God. There was joy. I was wanting to do it. I had peace about it. It was a very kind thought in the sense of like if you don’t do this, everyone in that building is going to go to hell.

That was not at all part of that thought. So it was gentle therefore, I was making the decision with self-control and it’s funny, right after that happened, I went back to my dorm room and a couple of hours later, my roommate came back. He’s like, “Hey, do you remember Steve? It was actually my roommate in freshman year. He wants to move into that freshman dorm across the way, and he’s looking for a roommate.” That’s funny because I just decided to move there about two hours ago, so we became roommates again, and it was pretty cool. Just starting to see how the fruits of our actions are pretty obviously indicative of us listening to God or not listening to God. So that was the first passage, and I go into way more detail in the book. Shameless plug for my book there.

Carrie: Why did you choose to write this book and share your story?

Michael: I alluded to it a little bit in the beginning. I think there were so many issues that if I had had this exact book back when I was growing up, it would have been so helpful. There’s a lot out there more now than there was when I was really in the worst parts of this, but a lot of it was just, I felt God was teaching me things, and I was reading and reading about this, and a lot of it was from the medical standpoint and the psychiatric standpoint. And there was a big gap between that and the church.

I felt like the church was, at least the churches I was involved in, leaned towards, “You are having anxiety and OCD. Well, it could be multiple things. You need to pray more. If you prayed more, you’d have the peace of God more. There’s a hidden sin in your life, and that’s why you’re struggling.”

You need to dig, which is the worst thing in the world to say to someone with OCD because now they’re fishing for something that doesn’t even exist, and they’re obsessing even more than they were, trying to find a sin that likely does not exist. They likely just have a chemical imbalance in their brain. There was that aspect of it, completely ignoring the medical aspect of it, and then there were all these brilliant medical doctors who were psychiatrists and then also the PhDs that were psychologists coming up with the truth of the medical side of it with no connection to the fact that there is a God and a Satan and there is spiritual warfare sometimes. I just felt like both sides were completely ignoring the other side and nothing was bringing more truth together.

Carrie: There’s nothing to bridge that gap between that theology and really good therapy and medical help.

Michael: Exactly.

Carrie: Usually towards the end, I ask people a couple of different questions, like, tell us a story of hope or something to your younger self, but I’m curious for you, If you will talk with us about what OCD is like now, does it still show up? It’s just you notice it and you’re more able to recognize it as OCD?  I think a lot of people that I talk to, they’re just so focused on, “I want this to go away and I don’t want to deal with this long term.”  I want to kind of give them some hope that just because they’re in the midst of the struggle right now, it doesn’t mean it’s always going to look that bad.”

Michael: I don’t want to embellish. I definitely still have OCD, but I would say I’ve gone from having crippling OCD back from ages 14 to 18 was really bad, and then in my early 20s right after college was really bad.

I’ve gone from that to much, much better. It’s much more manageable, and like you said, I can acknowledge what it is when I see it, as opposed to, it really took me so many years to even realize that the thoughts were completely irrational. I don’t know how many years I struggled with all of these thoughts until I realized, there’s a way to look at this and realize that some of my thoughts are totally normal and some of my thoughts make absolutely no sense at all.

I feel like once we get to that point, we’re definitely on the right track. I feel like that was a huge breakthrough. The second breakthrough for me was when, for some reason, the grace of God and the concept of grace just hit home. I listened to Dr. Tony Evans quite a bit, and he had I think it was a 10 or 11-part series on the magnificent grace of God. A few years ago, I was driving like crazy for many hours a week, and I just listened to those sermons over and over again and the crux of what he says is that the grace of God is unmerited favor, so it’s something we don’t deserve, which is great to an OCD person, because we think, “It’s my responsibility to fix the situation. That’s why we end up in these compulsive cycles, but grace eliminates that.

It’s for grace to exist, there has to be no payment for it. That’s a very freeing thing and he talks about it as an environment that is so foreign to us that it takes a long time to get used to and that was true for me. Like, I listened to them and I’m like, “The grace of God is real. It’s profound.”

This is the key to victory, but that doesn’t stop the engine still going in your brain right away. It took a long time. I listened to those sermons. I probably listened to each one at least five times, right? So that’s, what, 45 minutes each, 40 hours of just listening to “God is full of grace.” It’s hard to believe that in your heart and experience it.

He even talks about how if you move from America straight into a foreign country, everything is unnatural to you. Even going out to a meal is different. Making a phone call is probably not as easy as it is now just on your phone, you probably have to dial in some country code. Just everything. The clothing is different.

The culture’s different and he said, “That’s what grace is like.” When we realize, that it’s true, and we want to step into it, it takes a lot of getting used to. One, because it’s almost too good to be true, because the world never treats us with grace, right? Even just normal jobs, you perform and you get a raise.

If you’re off a little bit, well, we’re gonna ding you and we’re gonna notice that and relationships are the same way. Just to experience it with God takes a lot of telling yourself over and over again, essentially. You can definitely find victory and I think realizing how much God loves you, how much favor he has towards you, completely independent of your actions, is the number one thing.

It’s therapeutic to remind yourself, even just saying it right this minute. It’s just one more layer of reminding myself and experiencing that is a truth that I can speak to myself and to other people. I think that has been the most powerful thing. Essentially having a correct view of God just makes it so much easier to deal with.

Carrie: Oftentimes we project onto God, whether it’s been family members or past church leaders that may have had a little bit more of a strict view of God or harsher upbringing of God, or how we even see ourselves. I think sometimes if we don’t like ourselves and we struggle with shame and we can project that onto God, well God must not feel this way about me or that way about me. Really coming back to the true character of God and I appreciate you sharing that for so many people who are struggling today that victory doesn’t necessarily mean the elimination of all symptoms. It means that I know how to deal with these things now when they come up. I have somebody that I work with who will tell me, “This obsession came and I was like, here you are.I know who you are you’re back again,” and now is able to joke about it versus it being completely debilitating because she’s able to recognize that this is OCD. This is one of my themes that comes back around. I don’t have to totally freak out about this obsession like it wants me to.  I’m just gonna like, I’m gonna move on with my life and keep doing the things that I love and want to do and are important to me.

Michael: That was very true in my life. I had a pretty harsh father, and he had a lot of great qualities, but he was definitely harsh with me specifically and I was never popular in school. I was bullied a lot. There were a lot of ways that seeing God incorrectly could show up in my developmental years for sure through those two major things. Also, having OCD probably exacerbated all of those problems, I would say, that’s why I think getting to see God correctly. We just have to constantly remind ourselves that that’s true. He is gentle and kind and loving and for us and not against us and full of favor towards us because we don’t feel that with OCD.

Carrie: I appreciate you sharing your story with us and also through your book, we’re going to put a link to that in the show notes and I’ve recommended it to some of my clients because I just feel like it’s very relatable and there’s some helpful information in there on just really examining your thought process. So thank you for coming on the show today.

Michael: Thanks so much.

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Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By the Well Counseling. Our show is hosted by me, Carrie Bock, licensed professional counselor in Tennessee. Opinions given by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of myself or By the Well Counseling.Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum. Until next time, may you be comforted by God’s great love for you.