A SERIES OF PAYING ATTENTION TO OUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH
written by Rev. Shana Johnson
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2)
For the next few weeks I will share with you something I wrote a couple of years ago. As I contemplated some of the spiritual maladies we all face, I decided to write a sermon/study series I entitled "Renewing Our Minds" in which I named spiritual disorders and how you can identify them in yourselves and in the faith community.
I created a sort of fact sheet that you might find as a pamphlet in the waiting room of a doctor's office or as a page on WebMD. These are meant to be a tongue-in-cheek way of not only offering ourselves the grace and humor to be honest about our spiritual struggles, but also as a way to begin a wider conversation about those things that exist and that we see in our personal lives and in the lives of our churches, yet rarely speak of openly. My hope in sharing them with you is to spark some reflection and conversation.
OBSESSIVE-COMPLAINING DISORDER (OCD)
Obsessive-complaining disorder (OCD) is a disabling disorder which is characterized by an endless dwelling upon the negative. People with OCD may not be aware of how their protests, criticisms, whining, grumbling or nit picking can affect the joy and enthusiasm levels of those around them.
The cycle of OCD can only be stopped when a person's attention, attitude, perspective shifts from the negative to the positive.
What Are the Symptoms of Obsessive-Complaining Disorder?
The most common symptoms of OCD include:
Overwhelming thoughts and feelings of dread, disappointment, despair, and doubt.
Conversations and comments are often centered on complaints, criticisms, and grievances.
An unawareness of other people's thoughts or feelings.
Self diagnosis You may suffer from of OCD if:
You have persistent negative or nagging thoughts.
You are easily disappointed or angered by things that do not go the way you expected.
You feel the urgent need to point out things you consider flaws, faults or failures.
You find that you cannot control yourself from saying disapproving, criticizing, or judgmental statements or comments.
You easily offend, upset, or insult those around you.
Although this is not an instant cure for OCD, here are some simple ways to reduce the symptoms of "Obsessive Complaining Disorder."
The Key to Managing Your OCD Is Adopting a WhateverAttitudeStep
1: First, ask yourself, "What is important here?" Instead of getting stuck on the negatives, try and see things from a new perspective. Can the same things be accomplished perhaps by another means? Is there a lesson to be learned here? Is being right more important than the relationship? One difficult faith learning for all believers is that there are no limits to the ways God's work can be done.
Step 2: Second, learn to say, "whatever" and let it go.
Sometimes our negativity stems from the mistaken notion that we need to be in control at all times. True faith often calls for the act of "letting go" and "letting God." Perhaps the picture does not look right to you at this moment now because it is not finished yet.
Step 3: Shift your focus to whatever is worthy of praise
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." (Philippians 4:6-8)
Shifting your focus to first seeking the positive-those things that are worthy of praise-- will take discipline and self-control, but after a while it will come naturally.
A habit is a simply a repeated pattern of behavior.
The praise habit can be developed by consciously focusing on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
As the apostle Paul instructs, "if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."
Finally, focus on what is worthy of praise and do not try to carry your worries and difficulties by yourself. The weight is too much. As we often sing, may we also believe and trust--
Oh! What peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer. (Joseph Scriven)
Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister