because this so what OCD can look like, and it’s not what you think…

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that we have spent the past year or so really trying to nail down what has been going on with my daughter Lauren. She has struggled with anxiety, depression, sensory issues, and the most pressing issue at hand – OCD. And it’s funny, because people see Lauren out and about or in pictures and always tell me, “well she looks so normal.” And I’m like, yes I know. That’s the thing about mental health – it’s often an invisible struggle – thus the feelings of isolation mental illness can create.  For the most part, Lauren functions. But as of late, the meltdowns contained to at home happened more and more in public – or just kept her from going out of the house in the first place – and so we had to make some changes regarding interventions.

The good news is, she is doing so much better. Like a 180 degree turn for the better. Thank you Jesus. He knew we were at our breaking point. The other good news? I have learned so much in the past year that I could not have come across any other way.

Being a therapist with a significant amount of education and mental health experience under my belt, I had no idea what OCD really looked like – especially in a child. I knew the textbook definition. I know CBT and ERP are the preferred treatment modalities and I even knew some things that were helpful for people I had worked with. But at the core, I saw it just as stereotypical as everyone else.

OCD equals hand washing, lock checking, Jack Nicholson, and crazy organized sock drawers.

And when I share my daughters diagnosis that is what people think. They say things like, I organize like crazy too! Or yes I totally get it – I wash my hands all the time also. And maybe they do get it. But for the most part I think we have a vastly skewed idea of what OCD really is. And don’t get me wrong – there is a reason this is the stereotype. It is what OCD looks like for some people, but I think for a whole lot of others it looks more like this.

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My daughters room is clearly not organized. It has never been organized. She hasn’t ever had a clean room for more than 5 minutes in her life and the only reason it was clean for even 5 minutes is because I spent hours working on it while I mandated that she play outside. At this point in her journey she cannot even be in her room with me while I clean it because she gets so upset, agitated, and overwhelmed that something might have to be thrown away or that she might not be able to find the things I move. People say, why don’t you have her help you clean it? But they don’t get OCD. She cannot help me clean it because it leads to massive screaming meltdowns over tiny pieces of paper that she cannot find the proper place for, which will then lead to her needing to take a hot bath and several minutes of deep breathing to de-escalate her. That my friend, is OCD.

It looks like not being able to walk across the carpet at times because she cannot stand the way it feels on her feet. After she walks across she can’t stop thinking about the way it felt and may have to wash her feet to relieve herself from the sensation. It means crawling on our knees and elbows when we get out of the car after school  because the hands and feet can’t touch anything and immediately need to washed to escape the feeling that something is on them. Sometimes there are tears for hours after that because even after washing them she cannot escape the pain that feels like something is on them. That is OCD.

She knows these things aren’t rational. She knows she is upset over what others see as “nothing” but she doesn’t know how to make it stop.  Sometimes she curls up in a ball next to me and begs to make it stop but then gets angry at what I suggest because she has already obsessed over the fact that the coping skills anyone teaches her will never work. That is OCD.

Please keep in mind, these situations are when OCD is at it’s worst. Life isn’t always like this. But it is sometimes, and the sometimes really stink. Right now she is in a really good, like really good place. We have made some big changes and God is a BIG God. But I know certain things will likely be a struggle for her throughout her life, just like Paul’s thorn in the flesh. And that’s okay, because God does what He does for a reason even when we really don’t understand. None the less, this passion burns in my heart for people to understand the invisible struggle that so many people face on a daily basis.

OCD sucks. It really does. And I know it’s controversial when I put my family’s stuff out there. Sometimes people think it’s good and sometimes people wonder why I share…but this is why I do. Because people need to know that they are not alone. Because these things can only stay shame bound as long as we continue to hide them in a dark box. People need to know that a child from a “good” home (whatever that is) with two parents who shower their kid with loving kindness and have read all the parenting books in the world can still have a child that struggles with ANYTHING. That mental illness does not have a bias, but can happen to anyone at anytime. And sometimes despite peoples best efforts they can’t just “stop it” or “get over it”. So we love people with it and we love people through it, just like people love us with and through our own junk. We own it and cope with it the best we can on a day to day, and sometimes minute to minute basis. And we choose love. To love just as people are, right where they are…because that is what Christ calls us to do.

what makes effectiveness effective?

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Hell hath no fury like the storm it stirs up when I feel ineffective. You could chase me with a raging dinosaur and I would be less afraid than if you chased me with thesaurus filled with synonyms for the word ineffective. I absolutely hate the feeling to the point that I will drive myself crazy until I have “fixed” the problem. Basically, I need some sort of outcome.

I searched the word ineffectiveness in my Bible app and came across this…”For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9

What stood out most was the gigantic list of things God calls us to possess if we wish to be effective. It’s a big list! But never once does it mention outcomes.

Could it be that we can be effective without an outcome? That we can possess perserverance, knowledge, love, and self-control and consider ourselves successful even if the story ends far from where we thought it might. And the best news about all of this is we don’t even have to achieve these qualities to a level of perfection. We just need to pursue them.

I’m starting to realize that an outcome driven view of effectiveness can be dangerous. Regardless of our actions and the qualities we posses, we have little control over results. Relentlessly seeking outcomes is exhausting and we may burn out long before God was finished. Why? It seems God never meant for us to be the author of the outcome in the first place.

God’s purpose with us is growth. To work through us as we seek Him and share His awesomeness with others.  Sometimes He will do big work while we are present and we will get to see the miraculous ending. But far more often we have a supporting role and may never see the finished product.

So do we really need the outcome? I won’t lie…it’s nice to have. We get a feeling boost of security, worth, value, and purpose when we get to see hard work come to fruition. But even if we don’t, it certainly doesn’t mean our work is meaningless. What makes the things we do meaningful is the heart that it was done with. If we act in love, kindness, and faithfulness and pursue these things will all of our hearts – that is outcome enough. We don’t have to make up for our past or earn the value of our present based off of productivity. Our past sins are erased by the blood of the lamb and we couldn’t possibly earn our present. Everything we have is because of grace.

Maybe if we released ourselves from seeking the outcome we could love and connect with others even deeper in the present. And isn’t that the true gift?

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/375980268873722642/

Do I trust You…

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Photo Credit: Valerie Wieners
Order this print for yourself at:  http://valeriewienersart.com/shop/far-more-than-you-can-imagine-art-print

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

It was almost like a rainbow. A cloud rainbow. The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Warm colors reflecting off the clouds, it captivated me. And then the question popped into my head…do you trust Me?

Do I trust You God? I say I do. I want to. I need to. But do I trust You?

When times are easy, I think I do. Or at least I don’t proclaim that I don’t. I may see the calm as something I created – rather than realizing it was You. I may struggle with pride and think, ya, I did that. But in good times, I at least say I trust You. But the bad is different. Way different. So do I trust You?

I want to. I think. Or do I? Because if I really wanted to, I could shift my focus and consume myself with Your Word. I could be still in Your presence rather than exhaust myself trying to find answers on my own. I could accept said answers may never be found, and even if they are, that Your grace defies logic anyways. I’ve yet to see a research study that fully accounts for Your miraculous blessings. Yet I’ve seen You intervene in some really tough situations, over and over again. So do I trust You?

I think I could more if I would stop projecting what I think You have planned or how I think You might disappoint me in the future. If I would just breath in the thick rest infused peace molecules that You place in front of my 5 senses right now. If I would let trust be a moment to moment dance rather than forcing it to the end point of a marathon I have not yet run. If I would accept what You give me as enough and something as simple and complex as a sunrise as evidence that You are indeed bigger and You very much care. I think I could trust You more…

I think I will because Your Word says that if I do, You will not fail. That if I do, I can feel more alive and less controlled by flesh and anxiety. If I do, that I might even glow and be renewed with life. And I have a whole lot of life and light yet to give – and I certainly don’t want to snuff out early. And if I do, I can even enjoy the present difficulty for what it is, without rushing off to try and fix things. Because they will be fixed in Your time and Your way. And that way is way more cool and colorful than mine.

So do I trust You? It’s a moment to moment choice…but in these next few minutes…I think I will.

 

The double H hopeless/helpless combo…

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Hopeless and Helpless. Two words that breed fear and insecurity. Who wants to keep going when it seems like nothing will ever get better? It’s the language of pessimism and when we get right down to it – the language of lies.

Where in the Bible does it say God will fail you over and over again? Where does it say there is no purpose for this and you might as well just cash in your chips? Where does it say life sucks and then you die? Nowhere that I can find…but hopelessness and helplessness…well they will speak that over you everyday.

And so you are discouraged. You wanted answers and improvement a long time ago. Maybe there have been some answers and some improvements…but the double H combo will never tell you that. It will tell you no matter how hard you fight – things will either get worse, or at best, stay the same.

You may not like today. You may not like tomorrow. You may wish over and over again that things were different. But you have a choice. Will you leave your feet planted firmly in the hopeless/helpless shit pile riddled with vacuum sucking happiness devourers, or get out?

Isaiah 30:49 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Hopelessness and helplessness don’t have much room in the presence of that.

Where you are rooted – you grow. Where you stand – you plant. Where you dwell – you live. Double H combo crap pile – or the truth. We choose one or the other – every single day.

The H combo says you can’t, but God knows you can. You were made for this. As painful and weird as it may be, it’s your cup of tea. Take it sip by sip, and practice joy while drinking it. You got this sister. Hard things are His speciality, and He won’t fail you now. Lean hard on and in, loosen your grip on the double H, and let Him set you free. He’s got this.

Photo Credit: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/spiritual-inspiration-2701592/photo-4888788119