In case you haven’t figured this out already, I’m a Christian. Every once in a while, I’ll write about my walk when I am struggling.
I do this with the hope that other Christians find value in what I write, show folks who have different beliefs how a Christian struggles with her faith and for another important reason I’ll discuss later.
Who’s the Boss (Of Your Brain)?
Over the past few months, I admit, I have been through quite a bit – marriage, moving away, etc. A lot of wonderful, but stressful things and some sadness. Perhaps more than the average thirty-something. But it’s important to recognize that everyone’s struggles are different and that many people have to struggle with far worse things, like physical illnesses.
My problem is all in my head.
I suffer from anxiety, depression and obsessive worry. Labeling myself as having OCD was really difficult at first. I felt like a failure, and that I could not be successful in life. (Hint: extreme perfectionism is kinda a sign of anxiety and depression. 🙂 )
I often feel that way to this day. I have not been very successful in some of my biggest jobs, which led me to start working on my own business. Although I maintain a great social network of friends, some days it’s so hard to text or e-mail or instant message. (Heaven forbid actually calling.) Some days it’s difficult just to get out of bed in the morning.
God: Perfect Because You Aren’t
What I hate the most is how judgmental I am (another lovely by-product of perfectionism). Although the logical side of my mind knows no one is perfect and no situation is perfect, the irrational part of me seeps up more times than I’d care to admit. It comes out a lot when it comes to my relationship with my husband, but it’s worse with myself.
It’s true. You can be your own worst enemy.
You may have read my blog about marrying a non-Christian. The idea of doing so was completely foreign to me until I actually started dating my husband. It wasn’t so much a point of contention, but it made me question if I was making the right decision.
The problem is, I knew I was sinning by marrying him.
Without a doubt, if you ask any Christian if they believe marrying a non-Christian is a sin, they point to the passage I quote in my blog and say, “Absolutely.”
While a lot of people may have told themselves, “It’s okay. Even though what I’ve done is against my religion and faith in God, I can make this work. I know God has forgiven me now and wants the best for me. He is not hateful and holds grudges.” In fact, I have actually told myself that many times and my husband and I go over it.
But as an obsessive worrier, even though God has forgiven me, I have yet to forgive myself.
It’s something I think about almost every day, but mostly during certain key moments. Like when I want to listen to Christian music or I start looking for a church. Or when my husband and I talk about children. It’s in the back of my mind.
I’d say the primary reason why I haven’t already joined a church, and it’s been a year since I moved, is because I feel like I will be judged for my sin.
Here’s the problem: that isn’t how God works, nor His people.
Not Crazy, Just A Little Unwell
Once you have confessed your sin, it is gone “as far as the East is from the West.” So why can’t I let go of it? And what can other obsessive worriers out there do to overcome this issue or other obsessive thoughts?
The answers are simple but hard to follow for someone who is anxious or depressed:
1) Writing it down: Often when I find myself troubled by my decision I go back and read my blog.
It helps me to focus and remember why I married my husband – because he loves me, I love him, and we are determined to make this marriage work regardless of religious differences. Sometimes it may take writing it down multiple times.
Though it may not take away the obsessive thoughts permanently, it does serve as a good resting place for these thoughts and a reminder when you have overcome them.
2) Talking it out: I had many a conversation with friends and family about this decision, knowing I was disobeying God. Many people have reminded me of the scripture that talks about how a Christian spouse can positively influence a non-Christian spouse, but most interpret Peter’s writing that is more for a spouse who became a Christian after marriage. It can still be useful, however, and encouraging!
Though it may not always help to talk about it with other loved ones, even other Christians, it’s still a good start. The very, very best option is to see a psychiatrist and therapist.
Why both? If you do need medication, a psychiatrist can help you with a medication management plan. I have always hated medication, and I truly hope this is a temporary solution for you. But it has helped me tremendously.
A therapist is a great third-party who will not only be open and honest about your issues, but also give concrete ways to deal with them. You can talk to them, and they will help you understand your obsessive worry in a way that makes sense. In fact, you can even look up therapists who are Christian if that is a requirement.
The takeaway here is to get help and communicate. If you can’t go it alone, bring your spouse with you.
That’s also important: Communicate these issues to your spouse. Your spouse is your biggest fan and needs to know what is going on inside your head. My husband is really great about that. He helps me to talk about what I’m feeling instead of internalizing it, another side effect of these conditions.
3) Persistent, positive self-talk: It is important that almost as soon as the thought happens, you pray and think of something positive. The idea is that once the negative thought has surfaced, it is very difficult to not dwell on it unless it is replaced with a more positive thought. Don’t delay doing this. This is really a tip for anyone who deals with negative self-talk.
This was a tough post to write, as it is one that I’m currently struggling with and the answers seem so simple. I’m always striving to make my blog useful to others rather than just a diary entry about myself. I feel like this was unbalanced, but it is my sincere hope this helps someone.
Further Reading: I’ve been searching for great, Godly advice about this, and I finally found it here. It talks about the situation in-depth and breaks down the Scripture that justifies it.