Tips for Beating OCD, Anxiety, and Perfectionism: Break Down the Boxes
The past few weeks have been some of the most transformative I’ve ever had in my recovery from OCD. They haven’t been particularly easy weeks, but of course I never expected this journey to be easy. I want to share some insights I gained from a massive breakthrough I experienced recently, in case others who struggle with OCD might find them useful. I’m not sure, but I have a feeling this might also be of value to folks who are perfectionistic or have a tendency to worry. But because I am speaking from my experience with OCD, I’ll address OCD directly.
(Disclaimer: I am NOT a counselor and this is NOT scientific. This is just an analogy that has helped me lately. If you’re an OCD sufferer and it’s useful to you, wonderful; if not, please ignore me and listen to your therapist instead.) 🙂
On Fig Leaves, Coats of Skins, and Things As They Really Are
I’ve always loved the passage in Jacob 4:13, which explains the primary role of the Spirit: “…The Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are…” (emphasis mine).
The idea of Things As They Really Are is one of the most profound spiritual concepts I’ve ever encountered. It’s about much more than adhering to the “correct” interpretation of abstract theological principles; it’s about embracing all the truth we can, even difficult truth, on our way to a fully actualized life in Christ. As important as good theology is, I believe that on the path of real discipleship, often the most difficult truths we encounter are personal — things we’d rather not face about our communities and families, and especially ourselves. And yet the Spirit exists to show us these truths, to help us strip away layers of deceit and shame, so that we can stand face to face with God, knowing Him even as we are known (see 1 Cor 13:12).
I often think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After they partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they discovered their nakedness. Suddenly ashamed, they rushed to make coverings of fig leaves — as if, somehow, the fig leaves would restore their former innocence, or at least hide that they had sinned. But God wasn’t fooled. He called out to them, made them stand before Him, demanded an accounting of what they’d done (as if He didn’t know). Then He cast them away with a curse…and a covering of skins He crafted for them.
There was a time this story made me shudder. I imagined myself standing before God, naked, exposed; and God sending me away, angry with my performance. How is this love? I wondered. I had missed two critical points in the story: