Obsess Over Me

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Gentle Reader,

People often chuckle and say that they’re OCD. What they really mean is that they’re anal or particular. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is more than liking things “just so.” There are many different ways this can be expressed, but, for me, OCD manifests itself in the form of fixations.

There is a point to this, I promise.

Four years ago I sat in a psychiatrist’s office. He noticed me eyeing the messy stacks on his desk and asked if they bothered me. Since he was a shrink and would probably catch me in a lie, I told him that I had trouble listening to what he was saying because I wanted so badly to put everything away. It also bothered me that the blocks he had on the coffee table were not arranged in neat groupings of three. And some of his books were upside down on the shelves. And the cord on the blinds was a knotted mess.

He asked me a few other questions about routine and intrusive thoughts. He gave me the diagnosis, but told me that there is a spectrum. Those of us with OCD have our own “flavors,” so to speak, and I’m not crippled by the things I have to do to navigate the day. He also told me that OCD can be harnessed for good; the attention to detail is useful in all areas of life. The trick is to not become overwhelmed by the details, which is my constant battle. So I definitely can’t multi-task. I try, but it never works. I make stupid mistakes and wind up feeling very upset.

One way OCD “gets” me is through stories. If the plot of a book, movie, play or television show is good and the characters interesting, I will devour it. There is nothing strange to me about finishing a book in less than a day if I have the opportunity. Nothing strange about rewatching movies so many times I can turn the sound off because I know what all the lines are.

Give me a good story.

And so I am an admitted and unabashed binge-watcher. No, I don’t spend 10 hours a day staring at the television screen (okay, I did do that a couple of times when I was stuck at home after surgery) and I certainly don’t arrange my life around a Netflix viewing schedule, but two or three episodes at a time is no biggie to me. If it’s a show I’ve already seen and love, like Gilmore Girls, I’ll listen while I’m at work.

Give me a good story.

My new favorite is The Blacklist. I’m nearly through the first season and honestly? This show is like fine chocolate. One bite is never enough. Mystery! Action! Deadpan (and yes, dark) humor! Plot twistiness! And, of course, the famously OCD James Spader.

Love it. Love all of it.

My fixations never last very long. I’m what you might call a “super-fan” at first, but once I’ve satisfied the need to know as much as possible about a topic or person (that sounds vaguely stalkerish, but I’m referring mostly to long-dead historical figures) I move on. There are often long periods of time between what might be referred to as these episodes. The love of the thing doesn’t cease, but it cools from giddy infatuation to a calm admiration.

We’re now arriving at the point. Bravo for sticking it out this long.

I was thinking about all this the other day, cataloging the things I’ve been hooked on in the few months (The Tonight Show, the vaccine debate and the aforementioned Blacklist, if you’d like to know), when the Spirit said, “Obsess over Me.”

That…is deep. Profound. Really, isn’t that just like God? Those words make me think of how He uses all things for good in the lives of those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He wants to take this quirk of mine, these little idiosyncrasies, and focus them. On Him. For His glory. And my good.

I don’t at all feel condemned or shamed for being fascinated by a show or needing to check my alarm three times before I can go to sleep at night. I don’t feel bad about the little rituals I engage in at work to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed by anxiety. I don’t sense God telling me to give up anything. This isn’t about self-flagellation. Instead, He knows that I have this need to fixate. I have this drive to take a subject, a story, a character, a concept and dig into all the little bits and pieces. He knows that I am drawn in by mystery.

He also knows that all earthly avenues are finite. Books have the final page, shows have finales. But He never ends. No matter how long or how often I study Scripture, I will never get to the bottom of it. There’s always another layer of surprise, something to think about. He continually reveals Himself, bit by bit, and beckons me to take another step. Go a little deeper. My need to fully understand will never be satisfied this side of eternity, so I get to stay in “super-fan” mode. I get to be the excited, giggly person who rushes around saying, “Did you know about this?!”

I have to chuckle at this. I have to shake my head. How wonderful it is that God would take the very things that could cripple us and remake them into the very things that make us good disciples!

My journey to faith. (15)

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