Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have been raised going to a church service every Sunday. Our services used to be 3 hours long but this year changed to 2 hours. Ever since I was little church was just a normal part of the week. Once Sunday came around it was time to put on my dress and get to church. I’d go and sing hymns, listen to talks, and attend smaller classes. I was one of those teenagers that devoted myself to church. I was in leadership positions, I always tried to see what I could help with and you could always count on me being the first person to bear my testimony after the bishop on the first Sunday of the month.
That went on into my early twenties where I decided to serve an LDS Mission. For those of you unaware of what that is, I basically chose to leave my family and friends to go somewhere new and teach what I believe to others. I’m not going to get into too much detail at this time about my mission, but I can assure you, you’ll be hearing plenty more about that in future posts.
Why am I bringing this up? I bring this up because it has been a big part of my OCD and my recovery. For the past 2 months I have stopped going to church. Not out of rebellion or disbelief in the teachings, I stopped going because I became too afraid. I believe in the teachings of my church and I also respect the people I attend with. My fear has everything to do with that nasty little OCD bug.
Jokingly I came up with a different version of one of our primary songs. The song goes… “Saturday is a special day, it’s the day we get ready for Sunday.” My version is… “Saturday is a dreaded day, it’s the day I obsess about Sunday.” Every week once Saturday rolls around my thoughts are consumed with that nagging voice in my head going ‘Are you going to church tomorrow?’. A few other things I hear going through my head are ‘If you don’t go, you’re going to hell’ or ‘You won’t get blessings if you don’t go.’ It has become so frustrating that I will purposely stay up really late and try to sleep past the time that my service starts so I can say ‘Oh, sorry I slept in.’ But for those of you who have OCD know that, that still doesn’t work because the personal guilt consumes you.
Within these past 2 months of not attending it has been interesting to observe myself and my spirituality. Now, I in no way want you to think that I am advocating for someone not to attend church. I think church is amazing and once I can get past these compulsions, I think I’ll enjoy going to church again. All I am saying is that for me taking a few weeks to reevaluate why I am going made a difference.
Within the past two weeks I have had a desire to go and once I realized that I go to church for a personal desire, it made all the difference. For me with my OCD I become afraid of making people upset so I kept attending church to feel less judged. The sad thing was that the whole time I was there I was miserable. I had intrusive thoughts, I was panicky and I just didn’t want to be there. However, once I decided to do it for me, my desire to get there came back.
Today is Easter. This is a pretty popular time for people of all faiths to congregate to worship in some way. I woke up and I went and told my mom I’m not going to church, I’m too scared. She told me to do what I thought was best for me and was willing to support my decision. I looked at her and asked, “Mom, what is going through your head right now?” She responded very kindly that she felt I was just giving my OCD more power. She said that she believed that I would be happy if I was able to go and take the sacrament. She expressed that she felt I needed a ‘win’ and this would be a good time to get one. She helped me realize that today I was truly ready to get there I was just scared. So, with determined frustration I went to my room I said to myself ‘OCD is not going to win today’ and I put on my skirt and blouse and did my hair. And I went. Was it hard? Yes. Was it scary? Yes. Did I do it? Yes.
OCD has taken so much away from me. And honestly it will probably overcome me again and again while I learn to control it. It’s not an easy thing to live with. I am so thankful my mom had the courage to kindly give me a friendly nudge in the right direction. She wasn’t judging me or making me feel guilty if I didn’t go. She was simply pointing out that the OCD was calling the shots.
On this Easter day I am thankful for my belief in God and in His Son. I am thankful that through Christ I can be healed. My belief in God has been an anchor for me during the hardest of times and I am amazed to think that the pain I feel each day with my OCD, He has felt it too. My lovely Grandma said it best when she came to give me a hug at church today. She said, “Seeing you here is an Easter Miracle.” I hope you all have an amazing week and that regardless of what happens you know how awesome and strong you are. As always remember… You Got This!