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Does God Forgive OCD Thought?
Living with OCD can be one of the most challenging disorders an individual will experience. It’s almost like it controls what we think or feel, causing significant anxiety to debilitation. But even more difficult is when we fear that God won’t forgive us because of these intrusive thoughts we experience. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. To learn more about religious OCD, you can find it here: Scrupulosity OCD – When Praying becomes an obsession (ocdtalk.com)
OCD and Symptoms
First, I’d like to briefly explain obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and its symptoms. OCD is a common and chronic disorder where individuals struggle with intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and perform ritualistic behaviors (compulsions) to decrease unwanted thoughts. For example, if one fears that her friend will get into a boat accident (obsession), she washes her hands 20 times (compulsion) to prevent it from happening in her mind.
Symptoms may include:
- Excessive fear of germs
- Repetitive patterns of behavior (tapping on objects; checking and unchecking door locks, stove knobs, and alarm clock)
- Intrusive religious thoughts or images
- Disturbing violent or sexual thoughts or images
Violent and Sexual Thoughts
Experiencing intrusive violent and sexual thoughts and images is probably one of the most disturbing for individuals suffering from OCD, leaving them to question their morals, beliefs, and values. They fear they are sinners and will be condemned and never forgiven by God. Therefore, I want to dispel those myths.
Here are some tips for coping:
1. Seek help.
If your OCD symptoms and fear of punishment by God are causing you significant distress, it would be beneficial to seek a Christian mental health professional, if possible, or a pastor. Someone who can provide you with tools and strategies to manage your OCD symptoms and nonjudgmentally discuss your Biblical beliefs more in-depth. They will help you to deal better with conflicting thoughts and your faith.
2. You are not your condition.
If we had diabetes and began to experience hallucinations due to a high sugar spike, I can guarantee we wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. Therefore, please remember that OCD and these intrusive thoughts don’t define who you are but are thoughts and nothing more than that. Plus, God knows the true you anyway.
3. There is nothing to forgive.
It is challenging to have these unwanted thoughts and visuals without thinking it’s a sin, but God knows they are nothing but unwelcome violators. He also knows your heart and that you are a good person trying your best. According to the scriptures, 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” Therefore, why would a loving God condemn you for something that isn’t your fault?
4. Letting go of guilt and shame.
Understandably, intrusive and violent thoughts would cause fear, but to cause oneself unnecessary shame and guilt is another matter. I’m sure God is very proud of you for fighting these demons.
Of course, you didn’t ask for these horrible images to come into your mind, just as you wouldn’t welcome a stranger in your house, so when you begin to question yourself, try to remember that you didn’t ask for it in the first place.
5. Distract your mind.
When you begin to experience intrusive thoughts, try and distract your mind with activities, whether taking a walk, sitting by the water, saying a prayer, reading scriptures, or whatever works best for you. The point is to keep your mind busy.
I want to stress that distraction does not mean escaping. In other words, when we use distraction, it gives us a healthy alternative to divert our attention elsewhere. But when we try to escape, it increases the unwanted thoughts and creates more anxiety.
6. Practice Acceptance.
It might sound ludicrous telling you to accept your thoughts, but that’s how you take your control back. It will not be easy at first, but by slowly allowing yourself to feel the unpleasantries, the power it has on you will begin to diminish. God will be walking along with you on this journey, too.
7. Nourish your mind, body, and soul.
Our minds, bodies, and souls are all connected, so we need to nourish all of them to thrive. Plus, taking care of ourselves can help decrease our anxiety and the symptoms associated with OCD.
Here are some examples:
- Physical activity – walking, hiking, biking, swimming, playing sports, gardening, dancing in the house
- Relaxation techniques – yoga, meditation, sitting outside in the sun or along the water, taking a bubble or lavender bath
- Healthy regimen – proper sleep hygiene, eating a balanced diet, allowing yourself downtime
- Mindfulness techniques – focusing on that cup of tea or food, sitting outside and taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells, praying, reading scriptures
- Having fun – playing with your kids, spending time with a church community, outdoor activities with family, cooking, baking, coloring
8. Don’t go it alone.
Living with OCD often causes us to isolate ourselves due to the heightened sense of awareness of our symptoms, but then living with all those thoughts in your head will only increase the anxiety. Plus, it increases depression. Therefore, go out with a friend or family member, or find a support group with peers experiencing similar circumstances. There are peer-led and therapist-led online or in-person support groups, or you can join an online forum.
There is Hope
Although OCD may be a difficult diagnosis, it is also very treatable. Please remember that it is not a reflection of who you are, and God knows that through and through. There is hope and help.
In addition, you are always welcome to join our OCD community. We have a wealth of information and support available to you. By entering our discussion forum, you can connect with others who understand what you are going through. You can also find helpful tips and advice from people who have been where you are now. Find Support Groups for OCD Near You | ocdtalk.com
You can also check out our community forum, where we specifically have a Scrupulosity (Religious) OCD category. Latest OCD themes/Scrupulosity (Religious) OCD topics – ocdTalk
You are not alone in this fight. You can overcome your OCD and live a happy and fulfilling life with the proper treatment.
Jesus and OCD: A Christian Workbook for Overcoming Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Charles Thompson. The workbook will help you confront OCD by looking at it through God’s eyes.
Breaking Free of OCD: My Battle With Mental Pain and How God Rescued Me by Jeff Wells. This autobiographical account by Houston Pastor Jeff Wells describes his struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder during his adult years. The book is honest and forthright and will bring hope to the many people who struggle in silence with mental pain and to their families.
OCD Be Still and Know: A Christian Guide to Overcoming Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by P. A. Kennan. A practical guide to overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from a Christian perspective. The Doubting Disease: Help for Scrupulosity and Religious Compulsions. The Doubting Disease by Joseph W. Ciarrocchi brings the most current information available today on religion and scruples, scrupulosity, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD).
- About the Author
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I’ve been struggling with OCD for as long as I can remember. After a long CBT course, exposure therapy, mindfulness meditation, and many self-help books. I can say that I’ve started to understand how my mind works. It’s not always easy, but it gets much easier when I learn about OCD and its triggers, symptoms, and behaviors meant to ease the intrusive thought. I want to contribute to this community by sharing what I’ve learned. Read my OCD story.