Hello. This may be a long letter, but I needed to reach out to the Pastor, so I hope this gets to him, and him only please. This letter is sort of private, so please pass this along in confidence to him, it regards personal information of some things in my life that I am going through.
This is in reference to an audio sermon I listened to on your website, from 7/20/2008. The title of the sermon is "Affliction". I need some clarity and some advice, as I have been going through some tough things for many years now.
***Before I go any further, I want to let you know that the things I am going to say here may sound bizzare, but bare with me, it will all make sense in the end, I hope.
My name is Sam, I am 40 years old. I don't know if I am saved or not. I have trouble with my faith, not knowing if I actually believe, or if I just try to have faith that I believe. Growing up, I was raised in a religious setting, spending my time as a child between a Christian home (non denominational), the Pastor was Lutheran I believe. The summers I spent at this Christian home, and some school years I spent at my home with my mom.
At the age of 13, I moved to Arkansas to live with my dad. There I started going to a Baptist church, and I asked Jesus into my heart, was baptised, and my life went on from there.
After I left high school, I stopped going to Church
During high school, I started to develop what I found out later would be OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. At first, it was alot of the traditional symptoms of OCD, hand washing, and sort of fear of having dirt and germs on my hands, that could get into my mouth. Not necessarily the classic "fear of germs" as some OCD people have, but more of just that if I had something on my hands, it would get into my mouth, by way of touching my mouth or having these contaminants on my hands while eating.
As I grew older, the OCD seemed to grow stronger. The hand washing symptom seemed to still be there, but was not really that big of a deal anymore. Things like counting and checking became a big part of my life. Having to do things a certain number of times, in a certain order, and doing them the same way every time, without variance. Things out of the blue would cause anxiety, like if I were to reach out and grab something, if I didn't grab it in a certain way, I would have to redo it until I got it done just right. This would go on for extended periods of time, often, and it was distressing me alot. I just simply couldn't do something once, and let it be, I had to do it until it was just right.
Eventually, I got fed up with this and just stopped doing this, because, as I said, it was very distressing, and I think it was taking too much time at work, or maybe that was an excuse I was using to stop doing it, I don't know.
Years went by, and I don't remember if this was during the same time as the before mentioned issue, or started after, but I became obsessed with thoughts that I have.
Thoughts just pop up in my head at random, out of the blue. These thoughts are usually vile in nature and are mostly lude in nature, but sometimes they dont have to be. You see, I can get a thought in my head, and for some reason, it will trigger anxiety, because something in the thought or during the thought just didnt feel right, so I repeat the thoughts over and over, again, a certain number of time, until it is just right.
I also have thoughts of a religious nature, again, these thoughts are unwanted, and very bad. I later learned the terminology of this, and it is called "Scrupulosity", or OCD with a religious nature.
You see, a thought will pop into my head, and it will trigger anxiety, and then I will have to repeat the thought in my head over and over until I think the thought exactly the same way I did the first time, or in a way that makes me feel that I have done it the way that God wants me to. Sometimes these thoughts can be about Jesus, or God, sometimes they are not, but about people, but because people are made by God, or are children of God, since I had a bad thought about them, I have to do the process the same.
Now, I have seen psycologists and psychiatrists, and have been on medication, but OCD is treatable by a method called "cognitive behavioral therapy". Problem is, where I lived, there didn't seemed to be any, or at least not that I really knew, anyone who specialized in this. I now am not seeing a psychiatrist for this, however, my general doctor has put me on medication, but I don't take it regularly because of fear of being drowsy on the job. I drive a truck as part of my job, so that would be a problem for me.
Now, like I said, part of my OCD is religious in nature. Meaning, I have unwanted bad thoughts about God and Jesus. I spend alot of time doing these thought processes to "undo" them, meaning I have to repeat the thought a certain number of times, and if I don't, that something bad will happen to me, or that God will allow something bad to happen to me, or not get something that I want.
Often, the process also involves turning the thought from a bad thought into a good thought, for the same reasons above, and also having to do it just right.
The doctors have told me, and all the reading I have done on the subject has told me that this is just OCD, a chemical problem in the brain. The thought or idea came into my head, does God want me to do this? Does he want me to do these processes, and if I don't, the anxiety goes up, and, again, I fear that something bad will happen because of it.
I spend hours a day doing this, often, all day. When I wake up, I seem to be ok, for about an hour, then something will pop into my head, and then the process starts, and usually lasts all day. When I get home, I try to not do this, but sometimes I just can't not do it. I try to tell myself that I will relax on the weekends, but I have little success at avoiding it. Often I will obssess about things all day long. Just as soon as I get one process done, another will pop up and start over, and again, it seems to have to be in multiples of 4's. For some reason, to me, odd numbers are "of man" and even numbers are "of God". However, the number 7 is reserved only for God, I think, due to God creating the earth in 6 days, and resting on the 7th. So the number 7 has a certain significance.
I spend hours every day doing this, and literally, I am very miserable. I have no life, I often don't go out because I know that if I try to go out, I won't have any fun because all of this stuff will be in the back of my mind, keeping me from enjoying things.
I can barely function as a normal person. I mean, I eat, I sleep, and I go to work, but thats about it. I have little interaction with other people outside of work. Not that I am anti-social, just that I am too busy obsessing that I don't ever get out, and this OCD has seemed to leave me with very little joy in my life. Don't get me wrong, I seem to be happy sometimes, but I live in fear and worry that if I dont do these processes, that something bad will happen, as I explained above.
Today, I listened to your sermon on Affliction, and it started me to thinking. You said that alot of affliction in peoples lives is of God. That he allows these things to happen to people. I have to know, do you think that what I am experiencing is, or could be of God?
I pray about it, but I feel that I am being selifsh or self centered, and only praying to get better. I feel that I should pray for other reasons.
I am looking for a good Church to go to, but again, I fear that I am not looking to go to Church for the right reasons. The right reasons being, to praise God and to get closer to Him. I think sometimes that I am just doing it so I will get some relief from my issues.
I have even started to read the Bible a little, but, even reading the Bible can be an issue, because I will read something, it will trigger a thought, and I will start obesessing again. I don't blame the Bible, or God, but because my OCD is religious in nature, reading the Bible, and having a bad thought or a wrong thought can cause anxiety.
Anyway, that is basically my problem. I am sorry for the length of this letter, but I had to explain myself, and I need the advice of a Pastor. Doctors can tell me that my problem is of a brain chemical nature, but I need to know the view of a Pastor, to see if indeed my problems are something that God wants me to do, or is it not God's will, but rather just something in my own head.
Thank you for your time.