“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he….” ~ Proverbs 23:7
Grace had grown up in a religious home. She was familiar with the above proverb. She understood it as a reminder to maintain pure thoughts to be a better person. Unfortunately, she was challenged by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and every time she read verses such as this, her anxiety and guilt would torment her.
Honesty and integrity were often talked about in her home. Impure and blasphemous thoughts were against her religious beliefs. She had learned that if she were to sin, she could take steps to be forgiven. A broken heart, contrite spirit, and confession were essential.
Her troubles began in middle school. She was taking a history test and inadvertently looked at her neighbor’s test. Her guilt drove her to tears. Because of her values, she had to come clean. She did, and failed her test. This seemed to be the beginning of her cascade of constant guilt caused by her thoughts.
When a kid at school would announce someone had stolen his lunch money, she’d quickly look in her pockets, school bag, and desk to ensure she was not the thief. Her thoughts and fears felt real. Once, when she got an A+ on an English essay, she felt remorseful. Her mom had proofread her paper for spelling and grammar errors. She believed she had cheated. Getting rid of her guilt was more important than passing her class. Praying and confessing were a must so she could feel peace.
“Somehow my honesty issues subsided while I was in high school. But before I began college my troubles reappeared. This time my thoughts morphed into something disgusting that drove me crazy,” she told me.
Grace’s thoughts didn’t match her values. She couldn’t accept the thoughts and images in her mind of actually harming someone. She began to miss school and stay in her dorm all day. She’d spend hours “figuring things out.” She questioned her worthiness.
The truth about thoughts is that every single human being — regardless of whether he or she suffers OCD — has intrusive, disturbing thoughts at one time or another. When non-OCD sufferers have a distressing thought, they may be surprised. They may say to themselves, “Whoa! That was a weird thought.” They acknowledge it and move on.