|My church, Lane Memorial United Methodist.|
I talked with my minister last week about my spiritual beliefs and the effects of obsessive-compulsive disorder on them, and I wanted to share some of our conversation.
We had discussed my OCD a bit in emails but had never talked about it. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to explain everything. He’s read some of this blog, so he knew going in what OCD is and some of how it affects my spiritual life.
I told him about my doubts that I carry with me about God and asked whether or not I was a hypocrite for coming to church and sitting with people who seem to be such faithful believers.
Some of my doubts are, I believe, results of my OCD. My struggles with prayer and with being “right” with God are directly tied to it.
But I’ve also always had a lot of questions about God, and it seems like it’s sometimes hard to get good answers from the usual sources.
He assured me that I wasn’t a hypocrite and that I needn’t worry about having doubts and fears about who God is and what place He plays in my life and in the life of others.
We also talked about mental illness in general. I was pleased that he understands that mental illness is not a rarity nor is it something to be ashamed of.
It was reassuring to me and I believe to all people with mental illness who attend our church that he has this healthy and open attitude towards those of us who struggle with these disorders.
Yesterday I attended my second session of the open discussion class at church, where we are studying Brian McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christianity.
When I talked with my minister last week, he told me that he and the class facilitator had envisioned a class where all who had questions could come and feel free to express themselves. It would be a “safe place” for people like me who had questions about God but might not feel comfortable expressing those questions in a general group setting.
We’ve just started the book, but it seemed like all the participants are already engaged, as I am.
The book asks 10 questions to start a conversation about Christianity. It’s a book that will have us doing a lot of exploring: “We need not a new set of beliefs, but a new way of believing, not simply new answers to the same old questions, but a new set of questions” (p. 18).
Some of the questions are the following: How should the Bible be understood? Who is Jesus and why is he important? What is the Gospel?
This class is going to push me and challenge me, and I believe it will help me on my spiritual journey.
Last Monday, I had my first class on Holy Communion and I’ll have my second class tonight. I am learning more about why we do what we do during Communion.
The minister is also asking for our input on how to make the worship service a better experience for all.
A spiritual quest
So I’m on a spiritual quest and feeling a lot better about it than I have in the past. I am less encumbered by OCD, partly because I’ve given up (for the most part) the chants and prayers that used to color my spiritual life.
And I’ve given them up only after a lot of effort and sitting with the anxiety. I’ve ended up not praying a lot, but I am meditating more, and I talked with my minister about saying prayers that have already been written. I am not worrying about praying, though.
I’ve also stopped obsessing over being right with God. As with the praying, that’s taken a lot of effort.
The OCD still waits in the wings of my spiritual life, but I know it’s there and plan on keeping it there as best I can.
I am a seeker, and I’m confident that I will be on a spiritual journey for the rest of my life.
And I’m confident that that’s OK.
Are you a seeker? What kind of journey are you on when it comes to the spiritual (not necessarily religious)?