On Comfort and Control

635844396018860406137072861_0903ocd01I have a problem with control. Namely that I crave it incessantly in every situation, bending until I almost break to maintain the illusion that it’s mine. For me, control is synonymous with safety. If I can manipulate elements to achieve an expected outcome, I feel safe; I know I can handle it. Conversely, uncertainty is synonymous with danger, anxiety, and my constant fight to regain the upper hand.

God and I have this cycle we’ve been on for some time now, where circumstances bring me face to face with the irrevocable truth that I’m not actually the one keeping earth in orbit. I’m horrified, then humbled for a brief period of time, only to jump right back on the merry go round, convinced that the scenario was an anomaly, and desperate to get back in the game with things I believe I can control to restore a sense of safety.

It wasn’t until 2015 that I received a clinical diagnosis for OCD, but that beast has been lurking in the shadows, albeit unnamed, for the better part of 20 years. In the 19th century, OCD was known as the “doubting disease,” as it causes the sufferer to doubt even the most basic things about themselves and the world they live in. There was a period of time when I doubted my body’s ability to breathe “properly,” so I spent each minute of every day polling people on the duration of their average exhale, how long they waited before breathing again, and analyzing what I might be doing wrong to have such crippling anxiety generated by something that should be automatic and unnoticed. I share this only to illustrate that the root at my drive for control is a chronic, clinical anxiety cemented in doubt, so when God asks me to “trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5-6) it is no small feat.

There have been plenty of times I attempted to will myself out of my struggles, asking God to simply pluck them from my life in the way Paul begged for his thorn to be removed. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about God, it’s that he loves equipping you to go through things rather than circumvent them. There was a time I thought this was cruel, that if God was personal and loving in the way I wanted him to be, my comfort would be his utmost concern. I’ve since learned that the trite, typically hollow condolence we’ve all paid lip service to at some point (God loves you too much to leave you here) actually carries some validity. Every new, wonderful, empowering, God-centered characteristic I’ve managed to develop over the years was explicitly because God loved me too much to leave me where I begged him to. That is to say, God will work in your life despite you, and that’s a good thing, even when it feels dangerous.