I compulsively wash my hands

Question:

Hi,

I am a very strong believer in Christ. He has my whole heart and soul. I have very strong faith in Him. I have seen miracles that He performs. I have severe OCD. It happens when I read the Bible, take communion, fast and prayer. I get all these twisted thoughts in my mind. I know it's irrational, but I can't get it to go away. It creates fear. It's like OCD wants me to stay away from God. I will never do that, but my mind goes crazy when I do the above mentioned. I immediately have to wash my hands, bathe, etc. to wash away the thought. It sounds crazy, but I can't control it. I know we cannot change anything by our thoughts; only God has the ability to do this. I need help, but I think mine is more spiritual. I know God will protect my family and not washing my hands, but I can't help it. I feel like this is a different type of OCD.

Please advise. Thank you.


Answer:

Actually, compulsive hand washing is a fairly common OCD trait. If you read the psychological papers on it, you'll find that it treated as an unwanted habit. The first order is recognizing that it is a compulsive desire that serves no purpose. The physical washing of your hands does nothing about the thoughts you may be having. Like the Jewish rituals that Paul taught against, hand washing doesn't solve the problem, which leads to repeating the action. "These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23).

Compulsive actions are not a result of reasoned thought but are an emotional response. Thus, you have to work to take your emotions out of the driver seat. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). Therefore, the second step is to face what is triggering your compulsion and then purposely fight to not give in to the impulse. At first, all you might accomplish is delaying the compulsion, but overtime you will be able to put it off indefinitely. Most people try to avoid the things that trigger the compulsion, but this also avoids solving the problem.

Approach the problem rationally. God commands that we read our Bibles, take communion, and pray. None of these things are wrong, so thoughts are wrong that interfere with doing these things or makes us want to avoid them. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). God doesn't tell us to do things that are bad for us.

Finally, break the habit. Find a place where it is not easy to wash your hands and sit there while you read your Bible or pray. Resist the urge to leave; instead, set a period of time where you will stay there. Each time you stay, it will become easier to stay longer.