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It Hurts!


Rockstar
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Hi Guys ... and Girls,

 

My faith has changed these past couple of weeks dramatically; inasmuch I no longer believe in 'satan' or 'hell' ... likewise I now take on-board Bishop Spong's idea of God (non-theistic, the Ground of Being etc) but it's been hard, and I'll tell you why (and your thoughts about this would help dramatically)

 

I suffer with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and because of this change, I have been randomly having Bible verses pop into my head (Intrusive thoughts/knowing that if a passage matches my situation, I'll think it's 'God' talking to me (ha!), passages about the Wrath of God and Sex ... I know my Bible well, and I know some are just coincidences embedded in my subconscious but it's getting annoying.

 

The Book of Romans is a bugger to be honest, as thats been on my mind lately, and I was trying so hard to not let my intrusive thoughts get a hold of me, so I kept quoting a passage that I like (Romans 1:16) ... but then because I was trying so hard to not let another passage come into my head, it did, randomly, and it happened to be about God's wrath (just as I was changing my whole definition about God's wrath just thirty minutes (at least) earlier) ...

 

Here's how I tried to explain it to myself, whether or not it matched a situation, I'm quoting out the Book of Romans which includes many passages about Wrath, so I was just unlucky in randomly quoting something that happened to be about wrath, I may of seen or heard the passage before (the previous day, I skimmed through some of Romans so I may of seen the negative passages in that book and my subconscious remembered them) or it's just a coincidence.

 

You are all rational people, and on this journey to a new faith, I'd like help! What are your thoughts?

God Bless,

 

PS. I know, I know ... I sound crazy :) but it's doing my head-in!

Edited by Rockstar
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Rockstar,

 

Let me state upfront that I am not a believing Christian and I am not a psychologist, and quite likely I'm not the type of person you were targeting here with your issue. However, I was a bible-believing Christian for the first 19 years of my life, but then I left Christianity because I simply could no longer believe in the God I had been taught to believe in. I'm here (at TCPC forums) because maybe I want to revisit some things, but it's your post so I won't go into my story, yet what you mention here happened to me too, and I don't/didn't have OCD.

 

When I left Christianity I went through this same sort of thing - Constantly remembering the verses that reminded me of why what I was doing (rejecting God) was wrong.

 

For what it's worth, I think it is your brain, whether conscious or subconscious, that makes these verses pop into your head when you least want them! I don't think your situation is all that unusual for many people who have gone through the struggle of leaving those Heaven vs Hell doctrines behind. I mean let's face it, in rejecting the idea of Hell you are probably going against years and years of indoctrination which taught you otherwise and that is how your brain was/is trained. Now that you are thinking otherwise, your brain's probably going "What the ...?" and throwing these old teachings/memories at you.

 

At the very least, I simply cannot imagine a God of love trying to 'turn you back' towards him by communicating bible verses telepathically, rather than taking some other more convincing, obvious action.

 

Perhaps you have spoken with psychologists before (I'm only assuming that because I'm guessing that's maybe how you came to be diagnosed with OCD) but my experience is that the human brain is an amazing bio-computer and just like any machine, wires can get crossed and thinking can be confused, and not for any supernatural reason, but simply because brains are amazing and we plug loads and loads of information into them over the years, so is it any wonder they 'play up' when we have a significant change in our thinking?

 

The best advice I could probably offer is simply keep going. Let this stuff be. Keep reading and learning. I'm guessing you've already done alot of both considering the significant change you've had in your thinking concerning 'satan' and hell, but keep following it up and keep helping yourself. I'm sure it can be hard slog, but know you are not alone.

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Thank you Paul ! I must say that it helped, they are too numerous to go into, and this week is when it all started. I didn't know what some of these verses spoke about (Eg. Romans 3:5), which is why it bothered me, and then when I'd check to see what they we're, coincidentally they happened to be something I was either thinking about/or I could prime with my mind, and put two/two together. I was diagnosed with OCD in 2004, but it's been bothering me more since I became religious (ironic, no?) I put it in this perspective, whether or not i had been thinking about God and his wrath, I'd still more the likely get a verse popping into my head that coincidentally mentioned wrath or described it. If our minds are primed to find coincidences, it's not surprising that we sometimes see connections where they don't exist (and I keep telling myself that, but it's quite hard) Thanks Again :)

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Rockstar,

Thanks for sharing. I have been through similar times. The mind to me seems much like a computer. What you have programmed in (or has been programmed in by others) for you will continue to operate until some deconstruction or undoing. Remember, they are only thoughts. They have no real power over you unless you give them such. Our thinking mind is a tool or servant we were given to use but because of conditioning it sometimes tries to become our master. It helped me to just watch them and be aware of them even sometimes laugh at them knowing they were just an innocent product of my teachings and conditioning. Just watching them helps us to see them for what they are. Not I, but just a product of life's journey to this moment. Things will get better.

Love in Christ,

Joseph

 

PS To limit the mind to what it proveably knows is to reduce it in both size and influence. Perhaps recognizing this will help.

Edited by JosephM
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Rockstar,

 

First, welcome. I hope you find fellowship here that helps you in your journey.

 

Second...As both one having some formal education in this area, and having extensive experienc with close family members affected by OCD, I know it is rough. You are describing an acute episode, and I hope you are under professional care..if not, you really need to seek assistance for what you are experiencing.

 

That bible verses and religion are involved in your present episode, and in a clearly negative way, this is a time when you really need to take a break from it. With OCD as well as a few other disorders, there is concern especially during an acute episode of what is called "religious psychosis"...you can Google that term for info on it that might help you determine if you are at risk in this episode. That should not, however, take the place of getting professional assistance with your situation.

 

Blessings,

Jenell

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Thanks Joseph, it's all mind-boggling for me, whether I hear something pop into my head, or visualize it, they are all, as you said, thoughts, but they are hard to get rid of. I'm trying to, but when I suppress it, it always seems to find new ways to materialize, like I said, seeing something visual in my head. OCD and religion seems not to go well together, Ha! :) and I checked it out Jenell, not sure what to think about it as there's so many opinions on what 'religious psychosis' is ... agh well:)

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I guess I'll give you an example so you know how much this is bothering me :)

 

Last night, I'm chatting away with a pal about the wrath of God, and how I believe that He isn't wrathful at-all. 30 minutes later, my mind starts boggling and I get an OCD episode (like I mentioned, the Bible verses) .. I randomly (or my subconscious, as I was fighting against it) picked one, and it happened to be about God's wrath (Romans 3:5) ... my OCD seems to be using that book (Romans) for everything. Romans 1:16 is a passage I keep telling myself to stop the OCD thoughts as it is the only one I memorized, and then bam, I think Romans 3:5) ... thats whats bugged me to be honest. I guess my subconsciouss knows that Romans is such a controversial book (all them passages about homosexuality, wrath) etc. and I was unfortunate enough think about a passage that matched my situation. But it happens quite alot, but then at times, none-at all, I might get another OCD episode and the passage it brings up means nothing.

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Thanks Joseph, it's all mind-boggling for me, whether I hear something pop into my head, or visualize it, they are all, as you said, thoughts, but they are hard to get rid of. I'm trying to, but when I suppress it, it always seems to find new ways to materialize, like I said, seeing something visual in my head. OCD and religion seems not to go well together, Ha! :) and I checked it out Jenell, not sure what to think about it as there's so many opinions on what 'religious psychosis' is ... agh well:)

 

Rockstar,

 

Thoughts come and go. They are not an enemy that needs to be repressed. The mere act of watching and your awareness of them is enough to diffuse them. When i went through such as you i would be aware of the thought(s), and watch it rise and fall of its own accord. I realized that they were just thoughts and i didn't have to get caught up in them or dwell on them. Gradually and with practice they leave of their own accord. Afterall those old teachings were deeply programmed in and it takes time to deprogram.

 

I sometimes laugh at the ridiculousness of the thoughts. I do not identify with them. They are autonomous and seem to have a life of their own that i need not follow past being aware. One can't say thoughts stop and they stop. In my experience, they subside of their own accord when you watch them without losing yourself in their identity and have no further interest in entertaining them.

 

Joseph

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I guess my subconscious knows that Romans is such a controversial book

We are not our mind, we are not necessarily whatever idea springs into our head. A lesson that has only recently become something I can work with. If some phrase pops up I do not have to be controlled by it. I have the choice of letting that idea be part of what I want to be or not. I choose whether a coincidence has meaning or not. Not whatever pops up. The subconscious is important but I have to be clear when I can safely be open to whatever pops up. It is dangerous to say, even in moments of weakness or susceptibility, that we must consider everything that comes to mind as authentic.

 

A recent example:

I had made an appointment to put my two poodles down. A decision I was calm about. Less than two days before the appointment I came home to find the county Animal control, the County Sheriff, and the city police all in the cul-de-sac by my apartment. They had a table set-up and apparently were available to license dogs. My dogs didn't have current licenses so my anxiety went up a notch and I decided to walk the dogs on the route that would keep us out of view. On the walk a stranger on a smoke break asks if I feed the dogs table scraps. He does but he and his wife argue about it. He says how wonderful it is to have a pet.

 

So -- law enforcement is there to energize the guilt circuits and this stranger says how wonderful dogs are. Is the universe saying something? Well actually it is saying whatever I am receptive to. If I were not sure, if it was 2-3 years ago when anxiety ruled my life, this would be a crisis. But I had spent time considering all the issues whatever my anxiety might say. I was not about to let the anxiety attach to me and define and rule me.

 

When my ex and I get together occasionally a lot of the old thoughts and judgments and resentment come to mind. Until recently I struggled and resisted them. About a month ago I practiced just letting them pop up and mentally saying to each judgment and resentment, "You are not what I want to be. Just float away. I will not let you attach to me." It was so freeing to realize that I don't have to be controlled by my mind.

 

Opening the Bible at random is interesting and can be a new window but it should not be done when one is weak and not able to avoid being controlled by whatever is on the page.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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Rockstar your honesty is welcome. Our memories are always present. I have childhood memories, but they don't affect me because I replaced them with more developed ones. Addictions and desires also seem to be memories that we play over and over in our minds. I feel we don't get rid of or want to get rid of our memory, but maybe reorganize it. In my case I have not replaced my memories. Please don't do this but when I was young I became a monk and I had to renounce who I was, my family and the physical world. People asked me why did your give up so much? I replied I didn’t give up anything. Those things are still there I am searching for something besides those thoughts. I did not give up the thought just expanded upon it. I now have a personal family and am assisting my parents.

 

The good thing about being a monk is that I learned how to slow down the destructive pace of modern life so I could get a solitary glimpse of the inner life of consciousness and the awesome power of clear thought. I didn’t get rid of my thoughts, but learned to watch them like birds flying across the sky. The thoughts come and the thoughts go. I didn’t become the thoughts just watched them. I learned to do this by identifying with my soul the Divinity within. To witness something one must be unattached observing the phenomena. When we dwell in the consciousness of God as the infinite Power then no human, devil or evil can do us harm.

 

I can choose to concentrate on God beyond my thoughts, which brings me joy or I can concentrate on wrath, sin and the devil, which does not bring me joy, but fear and anxiety. Those negative thoughts are there, but through spiritual practice I have learned to observe God in the present and not be brought down to thoughts that remove me from the spiritual love and bliss that is always present.

 

You are young and will have a long life of joy observing God’s love or if you wish you can have an exciting life with other thoughts. You are honest so are being guided. Look out the window of your soul and enjoy the ride.

Edited by soma
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Glintofpewter's story reminds me of one of my own, that hopefully may encourage you to know that what you are experiencing is not all that unusual and that many have gone through the same thought processes.

 

I suffered major 'Hell' anxiety a few years back when I just couldn't shake the worry that perhaps there was a Hell and that perhaps I was destined for it, simply because I couldn't believe in the whole "Jesus is an atoning sacrfice for your sinful nature and you need to accept Him now" thing (I don't think you can 'make' yourself believe anything - you simply either do, or don't, believe). Anyway, during this period of anxiety (and I'm talking pretty serious here like, would I be better off dead?, am I going insane?, etc) I was on my morning walk when I passed an object in the gutter - a crucifix on a broken chain! This sent me into a tailspin - was this a sign from God that I should be a believer? Was God trying to to send me the message that He really was there? What sort of strange 'coincidence' would see a crucifx pop up just when I am suffering so much over thoughts about Jesus and Hell, etc?

 

I liken this to you having those wrathful verses pop into your head whilst you're going through this time of losing those beliefs in Satan and Hell too.

 

Although a part of my brain was prepared to identify this incident as pure coincidence, another part wouldn't let it go as a potential message from God . So I placed the crucifix on a low adjacent wall and thought I would leave it there for the rightful owner to collect. Of course then I started to think "What if it stays there but then disappears on the 3rd day!". I was freaked and I could not get my mind off that jewellery for days. Each day I walked past it and it was still there. On the 3rd day I almost ran to the spot, but guess what, it was still there. And of course it was still there for another 3 or 4 days until somebody decided they would take it. So after all that I was left with the thought (albeit diminishing, thankfully) - did God put it there or not?

 

Now there was a empty coke can on the ground next to that cruciifx when I first found it. But did I ask myself anything about the coke can? Did I question whether the coke can was a message from God? Of course not. But that's the point I'm making and which I think aligns with what others have said here - our thoughts can be all over the place and can be of a wide variety, without them really meaning anything concrete at all. I don't think it is at all unusual for you to be having thoughts like this at a time when you are letting go of beliefs you have previously held. Like I said before, your bio-computer (brain) is going "Hang on, you've programmed me all this time TO believe in Satan and Hell, and now you're telling me Satan and Hell don't exist - that does not compute! I am not going to let you simply replace your old thoughts with these new ones - your brain doesn't give up that easily mate!"

 

As for you thinking you don't know the words of the verse which has popped into your head until you look it up, I reckon your brain is telling you otherwise. I think you have probably read those verses before (or heard them being read) and your amazing brain has registered them without you even realising it. And now that you're believing new thoughts your bio-computer is having some confusion and throwing up these stored verses in the conflict.

 

If it is any help for you, what helped me was what others here have advised - let your thoughts simply be. They are what they are - just thoughts. They don't control you, they aren't messages from God, and they will come and go. For me personally, time and reading helped. I read more and more that showed me many things I never knew about biblical interpretation, not just theology but some of the cold hard stuff like mistaken translations of words and context etc. There is an absolute wealth of information out there that I, from a Christian fundamentalist point of view, simply never even knew existed. Reading material that aligns with your new way of thinking will help.

 

All the best.

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