It’s a scandalous feeling, when you lick the hand that touched the dumpster. When you do that thing that OCD tells you you absolutely, positively can NOT do. It’s an adrenaline rush in and of itself, but I think what makes it especially powerful is when it’s backed by what my therapist calls your “Greater Good.” – a term originally coined from the book When In Doubt, Make Belief by Jeff Bell.
I read this book near the time when I first began therapy, and it really nails home the idea that you need a grand “why” that drives your recovery, your attempts to get better. Exposing yourself to the crippling anxiety that OCD treatment sometimes entails can be nearly impossible if you don’t see an ultimate point behind it all. Once you can grasp a vision for the life you want, the goals you want, whatever it is that lies on the other side of OCD – that’s what needs to be your motivation in doing ERP. It took me awhile to find mine. In fact, I’d say my Greater Good varies depending on what topic OCD is focusing on, and it isn’t always something super concrete. Sometimes it is hard to put into words, kind of abstract. But somewhere along the line, I think as I got a taste of life without God, and as I found the places where I still needed Him desperately and found places where He showed up in spite of my avoidance of Him, I began to find it. And as cheesy as it sounds, I found that my Greater Good was quite simple: Him. I needed Him, unconditionally available and unconditionally loving. I needed Him without qualifications. I needed a God whose accessibility did not depend on my getting my doctrine and life choices completely right. Did you hear that, professors of theology? Did you hear that, evangelists, celebrity pastors and bloggers? I needed to know that He is there and He is available even if I don’t get it completely right. And if you are reading this and jumping to re-read and evaluate if my words are theologically accurate enough to ensure that I am in fact saved, then you are my dumpster. Not to be weird or anything. But what I mean is, the spirit that searches for adherance to a specific set of parameters in order to ascertain some type of soul safety is for me, the spirit of fear. It is monster that is screaming, “No! Don’t touch that dumpster! You’ll get AIDS!” as I look it in the eye, slap my hand on the inside wall, and then purposely and delightedly lick my hand. For me, I found that my ultimate exposure was to run to Jesus even if I’m not sure my level of belief in Him is enough. I will grab the hem of His garment anyway and await His healing. And on the flip side, to step out onto the waters of faith, knowing that maybe it is all made up and the agnostics and atheists are the only ones who are truly in touch with reality, but this Source of unconditional Love that the Bible tells me about is worth the risk of being duped. It means admitting that He transcends the conventional boxes that our systems of theological belief have developed for Him, that our culture has developed for Him, boxes that make our faith fully manipulatable and understandable and controllable. It’s the thrill of refusing to believe something just because certain leaders within our faith culture say it is so. It’s scary, and then it’s thrilling not just because it’s provocative but because you’re chasing after something greater and better. I’m chasing after the God who I found was still there even after I stopped having a quiet time and assessing to make sure I was always perfectly in His will. He was still there; I still sensed Him, longed for Him, knew Him, even. When I got to the end of my attempts to perfectly solve everything, there He was. When my OCD led me into the wilderness of doubt and skepticism and I finally surrendered to that, I found that he was even there. Maybe this is so post-modern of me. Maybe the fact that I can acknowledge that maybe or maybe not I’m just a post-modern millenial, shows just how far I’ve come. I just know this one thing – I found God all the more in my OCD, in my uncertainty. And somehow, that makes me just certain enough.