A Poem About OCD

Life is uncertain.

Not everything can be controlled.

Most people accept this uncertainty, this lack of control, as part of life.

But for the OCD sufferer, life can be controlled.

So they construct a bubble around themselves,

To control as much of their life as they possibly can.

They think that by having control of anything and everything,

They can protect themselves from all danger, all hurt, all pain, all fear, all anxiety.

But the bubble also keeps out love, joy, spontaneity, laughter.

The bubble keeps out people, prevents relationships…

And the bubble can do nothing to keep out the hurt inside the person.

Now Choose Life…

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” –Deuteronomy 30:19-20

 

I remember the cold tile of the hospital floor; the salty taste of the tears that cut trenches down my cheeks during my every waking moment; the pale blue of the gowns they gave us to wear when we couldn’t be trusted to stay safe wearing our own clothing; the looks of pity and the ignorance of the staff… their commands to quit overreacting and their dismissing of our pain.

I remember the locks on every door that led to the outside word; the giant fence that surrounded the balcony to prevent us from jumping to our deaths; the feelings of entrapment; the fear that came from knowing I had no way to escape – this place…or my own tormented mind.

I remember the rigid routine, how our meals came at a specific time each day; how they called all of us up to the little window – similar to a movie ticket window, minus the joy – to receive our medications.  And I remember how the medications were powerful enough to numb all feeling and quiet fits, but never enough to fix the hurt that had built a home inside our hearts.

I remember the dull ache that welled from deep inside my soul and ate away at my desire to survive.  I remember the decision I made to quit – to quit getting up each morning, to quit smiling, to quit pretending the life I had was worth the effort.

I remember the pain I caused my loved ones, and what it felt like to become a lost cause, a diagnosis, a patient, another name on another doctor’s list – everything but a hurting child.  I remember feeling like a hindrance instead of a valuable member of society – a victim of depression.

And I remember the decision I made to allow God to break the iron chains that had kept me bound for so many years.  I remember finally realizing that I had to choose – to make the muscles in my face curve up instead of down; to laugh instead of sob; to pray instead of ignore God; to get up when everything in me said to stay in bed, hidden from the outside world.

I remember choosing to replace my nightmares with dreams; choosing to listen to the truth coming from voices I trusted instead of listening to the lies coming straight from the pit of hell.

I remember choosing to depend on God’s strength instead of my own.  I remember choosing to live.

And I will never forget the precious gift that is freedom in Christ.

 

Day 8

Scripture Readings:

  • Joshua 11:1-12:24

If I’m being honest, there was very little I took away from this passage tonight.  It pretty much was just a list of the kings and lands Joshua and the Israelites conquered with the help of the Lord.  Verse 20 confused me some: “For the Lord hardened their hearts and caused them to fight the Israelites.  So they were completely destroyed without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.”  Why did God harden the hearts of these people?  Did they have the opportunity to acknowledge Him and refuse?  It’s sometimes hard to reconcile passages like this, that describe an unmerciful, wrathful God, with passages in other parts of the Bible that describe a loving, merciful God.  But I know that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament.  There are some aspects of God’s character I will never understand, and clearly I probably won’t ever know why God hardened the hearts of these people and allowed them to be destroyed by the Israelites.

  • Luke 17:11-37

Verses 11-14 say, “As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria.  As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’  He looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’  And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” (emphasis added)

Notice how the lepers were cleansed before they even saw the priests.  They were healed on their way!  The only thing they had to do for healing was trust and obey Jesus.  Sometimes, what God seems to be telling us sounds ridiculous, or pointless, or too difficult to accomplish.  But maybe the purpose isn’t always just in completing what He asks of us, but in simply choosing to obey Him.

  • Psalm 84:1-12

Really, you should just go and reread this psalm yourself.  A lot of the psalms I have read lately are pretty depression, but this one was so joyful!  The passage reminded me that whatever difficulties I face on this earth, and whatever earthly pleasures I deny myself in order to follow Christ will be worth it in the end.  True life only comes from following God.  We can trick ourselves into thinking we’re living life to the fullest by doing what we want, when we want, without caring about anyone but ourselves, but we’re only hurting ourselves in the end.

  • Proverbs 13-5-6

Verse 6 was especially good! “Godliness guards the path of the blameless, but the evil are misled by sin.”  I don’t want to read too much into this and risk misinterpreting it, but what I took away from this passage is this:  The closer our walk with Christ, the more like Him we become.  The more like Christ we are, the easier it will be to make the right choice in the face of temptation.  It’s much easier to disobey God when our relationship with Him is lifeless.  It’s much easier to sin when we’re already caught up in other sin.  (Keep in mind that I am interpreting the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament.  I realize that Christ hadn’t yet come when the Old Testament books were written.)

Day 7

Sometimes, idealistic plans are thwarted by reality.  I have a Research Methods exam tomorrow, and I’m not quite ready for it.  I’ve been studying for the past few days, but I still have more to do.  But I didn’t ignore my time with God today!  In fact, I spread out my readings so that I read from the Old Testament this morning, from the New Testament later on in the day, from Psalms just now, and I will be reading from Proverbs before I fall asleep.   I loved doing it this way!  I got a little bit of truth at various times throughout the day, and it was a good way to keep myself connected to God.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to write out my reflections tonight.  (Rest assured, I did reflect!  I just can’t write it all out tonight.)  That said, I’m just going to write down today’s Scripture passages, and put a * next to the verse I was originally planning to reflect on.  If you’re following along, perhaps you can help me out by posting in the comments your own observations about the Scripture passages.  I’ll do my best to make time for my reflections tomorrow.

Joshua 9:3-10:45

**verses 10:12-14; 42

Luke 16:19-17:10

**verses 16:8-15, 17:3b-4

Psalm 83:1-18

**verses 83:16-18

Proverbs 13:4

**all

Day 6

April 13th, 2014

  • Joshua 7:16-9:2

Verse 34-35: “Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instructions.  Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.”

To understand why I like this passage so much, you need to read it in context.  Here’s the gist of it: Joshua and the Israelites had already conquered Jericho.  One of God’s commands had been violated, so they had been beaten by the people of Ai when they tried to take their city.  They made things right with God, and with His blessing and help, were finally able to defeat Ai.  It would have been so easy to ignore God’s hand in the battle, and pretend that they had conquered Ai on their own.  Instead, they chose to follow the instructions Moses had given to them before his death, and remembered the Lord.  It’s important to go to God not just in times of difficulty and despair, but also in times of great triumph.

  • Luke 16:1-18

Verse 16:10 **Note: Please read this passage in context…it makes more sense that way!

“If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in large ones.  But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

Simple lesson: Fulfill your responsibilities and be trustworthy.  Trust is earned, and it’s easier to stay trusted than to try and earn trust back once it’s lost. To get more meaning from this verse, read it in context.  It comes right after Jesus’ parable about the shrewd manager.

  • Psalm 82:1-8

Verse 1: “God presides over heaven’s court; he pronounces judgment on the heavenly beings;”

This entire Psalm was kind of difficult for me to understand, so I picked out just one verse from it to talk about.  (I also might not be understanding it correctly, so definitely study the entire Psalm yourself…that’s a good thing to do anyway!)  I don’t pretend to understand why God waits to judge people.  It’s really hard to trust God when bad things happen to good people, and it doesn’t seem fair when good things happen to people we would judge as “bad.”   But we can rest assured that God is in control, and that He will enact justice when the time is right.  In the end, God will triumph and evil will be defeated.

  • Proverbs 13:2-3

Verse 13:3: “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”

There’s a reason why people are told they have the right to remain silent when they are arrested.  Our words have power!  I LOVE to argue, and I have gotten into quite a few spats with my parents over the years.  I know that having the last word isn’t always the greatest idea (even if I know I’m right!)  This proverb reminded me to think before I speak…something I know to do, but often forget.  It’s hard to undo the damage that is done by negative words.  Better to stay silent, then have to make apologies for things you have said that you didn’t mean, or meant but shouldn’t have said.

Day 5

Here are the Scripture passages for the day: (My comments were added a day late…see the last paragraph for an explanation!)

  • Joshua 5:1-7:15

Verses 6:2-5: “But the Lord said to Joshua, ‘I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.  You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days.  Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn.  On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns.  When you hear the priests give one long blast on the ram’s horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can.  Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” (emphasis added.)

GUYS!  How amazing is this passage?  Okay, I’ll admit that God’s command to Joshua and the Israelites seemed pretty ridiculous.  BUT look at the words I bolded: “have given.”  God told Joshua that Jericho was his before they even conquered it.  This passage is such a great reminder that God’s plans for us cannot be thwarted as long as we are seeking and obeying Him.  Joshua could have laughed at God and simply tried to attach Jericho in a normal way (with weapons and blood and gore,) but then they may not have conquered Jericho.  Jericho belonged to the Israelites…they simply had to obey God.   Spoiler Alert!  The Israelites DID obey God, and conquered Jericho.

  • Luke 15:1-32

Verse 15:3-7“So Jesus told them this story:’If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’  In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

Okay, we could debate whether this passage is talking about Christians who have fallen away, or simply people who have never made the choice to follow Jesus in the first place, but we’re not going to.  To be honest, I don’t know if it really matters.  We were all made for eternity in Heaven…whether or not we spend eternity with God is just a matter of whether or not we choose to follow Jesus.  We’re all sheep.  We have all been/will be like lost sheep, whether we have chosen to follow Christ and have fallen away, or have never made that decision at all.  I think it’s so amazing that Jesus doesn’t wait for us to find our way back to Him.  He loves us so much that He seeks us out.  Ultimately, choosing to follow Christ is our decision.  But God woos us to Himself, giving us chance after chance to choose Him.  And when we fall away, (as many of us often do,) He comes after us – wooing us, leading us, encouraging us – until we are at last finally back with the rest of the flock.  How amazing is it to realize just how much God loves us?!

  • Psalm 81:1-16

Verses 81:5b-7:  “I heard an unknown voice say, ‘Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.  You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah.”

I know it’s important to read Bible verses in context (if my Bible and religion courses have taught me anything about Biblical exegesis, it’s that!)  However, sometimes I like to pull verses out to meditate on, after I already know their context.  This is one of them.  I believe the Bible is the living Word.  If it wasn’t, then words that were written thousands of years ago would be completely irrelevant today.  If it wasn’t, then I couldn’t read the same passage time and time again, and still have God speak to me through it in new ways. While this Psalm was written to a specific people at a specific time,  God can still use it to teach us!  I don’t need to understand or even know the full context (historical/cultural/literary) of this passage to be comforted by these words.  I know from reading other sections of Scripture that God is willing to take our burdens, to be our comfort and our refuge, to support us and carry us, and to protect us in times of trouble.  This passage is just one more reminder of this amazing truth.

  • Proverbs 13:1

“A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.”

How often do we choose to do things our own way, ignoring the correction of our teachers, our mentors, our parents, our friends, and our pastors?  Sometimes we even know that their instructions will give us the best outcome, and we ignore their advice anyway!  I know I’m definitely guilty of this.  Sometimes I’d rather be “right” than accept correction.  Pride can get in the way of a lot…  If we forget about pride and simply accept the instructions and advice of those wiser than us, (including God!) things are more likely to turn out well.

(What I wrote last night before I finished reading these passages of Scripture: I’m in the process of reading right now.  I’m exhausted and don’t feel very well, so I will be posting my comments on the readings tomorrow.  (If I posted them now, it would probably all be jibberish because my mind isn’t as sharp when I’m tired. :P)  I know, I know!  I should have read earlier.  However, I drove back from Rochester tonight and about 20 or 30 minutes into the trip, I turned off my music and simply talked to God.  So, even though I didn’t prioritize reading the Bible today as I should have, I did spend time with God, and it was awesome!  We talked about a lot of things and I felt Him guiding my prayers and kind of revealing Himself to me as I was speaking to Him, which was really cool.  I also prayed that He would help me stay awake and alert. :P

Goodnight! :))

Day 4

April 11, 2014

Joshua 3:1-4:24

Verses 3:10-11 say, “Today you will know that the living God is among you.  He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you.  Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River!”

For the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant was God’s presence among them.  Where the Ark of the Covenant was, God was.  Isn’t it awesome that today we don’t need to carry around something like the Ark of the Covenant to know God is with us?  He provides His Holy Spirit to anyone who chooses to follow Him.  Instead of having the Ark of the Covenant lead us, we have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our steps.  How thankful I am for that!

Luke 14:7-35

Verses 34-35 say, “Salt is good for seasoning.  But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile.  It is thrown away.  Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

This verse comes directly after Jesus is talking about the cost of being a disciple.  He explains to the crowd he was speaking to that He must be more important than even their parent, sibling, or spouse.  So, when I read these two verses, I wasn’t altogether sure exactly what they meant.  However, I think Jesus is trying to say that He wants His followers to be either all in or not at all.  Jesus doesn’t desire lukewarm followers.  If we’re going to choose to follow Him, we have to be willing to give up everything for Him.

Psalm 80:1-19

Verses 14-19 say, “Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies.  Look down from heaven and see our plight.  Take care of this grapevine that you yourself have planted, this son you have raised for yourself.  For we are chopped up and burned by our enemies.  May they perish at the sight of your frown.  Strengthen the man you love, the son of your choice.  Then we will never abandon you again.  Revive us so we can call on your name once more.  Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.  Make your face shine down upon us.  Only then will we be saved.”

This passage is a reminder that God is our Savior…we can’t save ourselves.  The Israelites couldn’t save themselves from the armies they faced, and we can’t save ourselves from Satan and the hold sin has over us.  (I also found it interesting that the psalmist was so bold as to imply that God had left them to defend themselves, and that is why they had abandoned God.)

Proverbs 12:27-28

Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.The way of the godly leads to life; that path does not lead to death.”
I love both of these proverbs, but I suggest that you consider them on your own.  Ask God to speak to you through them, and see what He says! :)

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