OCD – Should I Claim that Fame?

Who doesn’t have OCD?!

We all have a touch of OCD – and some of us claim it more than others. Some claim it with pride, and others with chagrin.

I remember my friend and I talking about our Instant Pots. I’ve got hard boiling eggs down to a science in my Instant Pot, and she feels she does, too. However, our approach is so different. She purchased an insert to put in her Instant Pot so the eggs are perfectly aligned, producing deviled eggs that are completely symmetrical – the egg yolk right in the middle with equal parts of egg white on all sides.

I was sitting there thinking, That would be one more thing for me to find a place to store in my kitchen, and who has time to worry about symmetrical eggs anyhow? Just get ‘er done!

“Because,” she laughed as she explained herself, “I have OCD.”

Does OCD give me a right?

Most of us, if we’re honest, can claim some fame in that department. Yet, she shared it as though it gave her license to be so particular and to spend the extra money for the contraption that allowed her to have her eggs her way. Would she want to eat them if  they’re not symmetrical?! I was stymied, thinking, Symmetrical eggs have nothing to do with living out the Gospel.

Yes, I thought that – sort of.

I have to admit though that I have my particulars – ones that couldn’t possibly be wrong, of course. Particulars that allow me to demand things that are not necessary for living out the Gospel. I have particulars that I’ve actually allowed to upset my day when things didn’t pan out the way I preferred or expected.

Dave has a fetish with all-things-crooked – especially if we’re in a motel and the photos on the wall are hanging lop-sided. One minute after we’re in the room, those frames are hanging straight. He’ll sleep better, he says, if those frames are hanging straight. Guess who else – after 35 years of marriage – now notices crooked frames on walls? (He taught me well.)

Organization and order are not OCD

God is not the author of confusion. In His instructions for the tabernacle, including its dimensions, wood, curtains, and the garments to be worn by the priests, He is specific. Measurements, colors, and fabric are all spelled out. For those who were designated to sew the tabernacle curtains, people were chosen who could sew well. He wants us to do our absolute best and do it in the name of Jesus. That is not being obsessive or compulsive.

OCD

So then what is OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?  OCD falls in four different general categories: checking, contamination, symmetry and ordering, and ruminations and intrusive thoughts.

  • Checking. This includes locks, alarm systems, ovens, or light switches, or thinking you have a medical condition . . .
  • Contamination. A fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean . . .
  • Symmetry and ordering. The need to have things lined up in a certain way
  • Ruminations and intrusive thoughts. An obsession with a line of thought . . . .

When our OCD makes life miserable for those around us or costs a lot more money,  perhaps it’s time to consider if scripture encourages championing OCD.

Is it a crime to be OCD?  Is it against scripture?

I suppose that depends on what we do with our OCD or how we expect others to align with our demands. Because I’ve failed to push the alarm to “on”, I sometimes double check my alarm to make sure it’s set.  During microbiology days in college, I washed and re-washed my hands numerously because I was so worried. Shame on me. I straighten uneven blinds in my house because I don’t want to see them hanging crooked all day long. Yet, if my life depended on leaving those blinds crooked, I could do it.

Sometimes, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to just let it go.

We’re all wired differently.

Things that bother me might not bother you. I might think things that bother you are ridiculous, while I excuse my own obsession.

The bottom line

Yet at the end of the day, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: does hanging onto my OCD bring me closer or push me further from Jesus? Do I become so rattled when things are out of order that I refuse to let go of my preference for the sake of the good of the group? Am I so in tune with my wants and preferences that I fail to see the needs of others or fail to allow myself to make a change for the good of the group? What does it take for me to be willing to forgo an extra expense or willing to nix a critique because something isn’t done my way? Can I allow someone else to do it their way when it doesn’t match my OCD –  for the good of the group and for the cause of Christ?

Do I want to be remembered by my OCD or because I’ve been accommodating to those who do things differently from me? At the end of the day, can I remember that people and relationships are more important than my OCD?  Can I live it out in the way I respond to those around me?

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