OCD, Scrupulosity, and Well Traveled Bad Synaptic Pathways
  • Register

How did those bad synaptic pathways get there?


We'll cover this a bit, sometimes it's a traumatic event, sometimes it's an upbringing, sometimes it's something self inflicted. A big heart, intelligent individual may be more prone to OCD given the temptation to rely on their own understanding. Figuring out where they came from is good, but more importantly is a focus on how to set course the right direction. In terms of spiritual reprogramming it's important we don't rely on our own understanding. Intelligence is fine and being sensitive is good, it's relying on our own understanding that has us hung up. Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to rely on our own understanding. It's ok for our brain to be analytical, that's its God given ability. But when a person's brain follows their heart they get in trouble. We are to be reprogrammed by the renewing of our mind resting on God, God's word, and not our own understanding. Billy Graham said the order is this, fact (God's words), faith (happens in our mind), feeling (happens in the heart or Limbic system). Billy said it's always that order, anytime you rearrange those you will be in trouble. In otherwords, our faith rests on the truth of God, and our feelings rest on our faith in God. If our faith rests on our feelings... we're in trouble. If we wait for our feelings to align with truth... they may never.


The difference between bravery and courage is that bravery is not being affected at a heart level by adverse circumstances. Courage is choosing to press on toward what the prefrontal cortex knows it should do despite being affected HEAVILY by adverse circumstances. Bravery says "I do not feel anxious", courage says "I will press on though I am anxious". God often calls us to be courageous (Josh 1:9, Deut. 31:6, 1 Chron. 28:20, Isa. 41:10, 13, 1 Cor. 16:13, Phil. 1:14).


If we are to renew our mind the right way we should be deliberate to rely on the wisdom of God who has total knowledge, wisdom, might, counsel and understanding (Job 12:13) rather than our infinite minds that do not. A person who relies on their own understanding has deceived themselves as described in 1 Cor. 3:18 (below).


18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [discarding his worldly pretensions and acknowledging his lack of wisdom], so that he may become [truly] wise. - 1 Corinthians 3:18 AMP


May I pause here for a second. I thank God you are suffering so that you are here and reading this with me. Not that I want you to suffer, I too know this anguish, but rather what the suffering produces. I don't want you or I to be lacking in any good thing and God does not either! (James 1:2-4) If we must suffer to no longer be deceived and obtain the Godly outcome, than I consider it joy to be suffering. If we are to be truly wise as the above verse states than we who rely on our own understanding need to suffer this way so that we can recognize it's futility and it can be exposed for what it truly is, foolishness! This way we may finally, possibly for the first time, come to the acknowledgement that we lack wisdom and discard our worldly pretensions and faulty wiring. If God granted us peace according to our wisdom, our pretensions, while we were still walking in them relying on our own understanding it would have been counter productive, feeding into that self deception. There are distinct ways, abrupt ways, that God, in His faithfulness exposed men who were relying on their own understanding. Job who God held in high regard (Job 1:8) after hearing Job cry out for reassurance, for certainty, for vindication, God came to him in a very abrupt and sobering way. In chapters 38-42 God exposes the futility of Job relying on his own understanding. God opens in chapter 38 with:


“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding, - Job 38:1-4


If you continue reading the remaining book of Job you will see a very sobering response from God to Job who was relying on his own understanding (read the entire book and you will see you and Job share similar thoughts and anguishes). Keep in mind Job's high regard in God's eyes was genuine (Job 1:8) but there was a correction that Job needed (and he learned [Job 42:3], much like you and I need. This was a blessing to Job, it was a blessing to the disciples (2 Cor. 1:9) and it's a blessing to you.


Most people remember that proverbs 3:5 tells us to not rely on our own understanding but reread that in Proverbs, to my astonishment at this revelation, I believe many people (including myself) do not realize the importance of the first part that says "trust the Lord with all of your heart..." (Not in your brain, nor in your finite wisdom, nor in your pretension, not in your Limbic system/feelings, but the Lord!). That's the ticket! Your big heart needs to say to your brain, "Sorry, though you are considered smart amongst those in the world, your understanding is lacking and limited and not to be trusted, therefore I will lean on it no longer, I trust God now!" Only after you do that can you cease striving (Psa. 46:10) and be freed to truly "cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). Only after you trust in the Lord with your heart and no longer rely on the understanding of your brain can you listen and enjoy what His Spirit has been testifying to you this whole time:


16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, - Romans 8:16


Thank God He is faithful.


The bible actually speaks on some things the world labels as OCD that occurs in the minds of all Christians. In Romans 7:7b-8a Paul writes:

...I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind...” - Romans 7:7b-8a

Paul who joyously concurred with the law (Rom. 7:22) of which was the commandment “You shall not covet” had sin in him which took the opportunity through that commandment to produce coveting of every kind. Similarly those with OCD who wish to not think terrible thoughts, because of the magnitude of those terrible thoughts and their desire to avoid them, cannot help but think of them.

I have found that given the right desire and enough motivation anyone can have obsessive thoughts, such that compel them to act on them. These things can be sparked by traumatic events which brings unwanted strong negative emotions compelling the recipient to act accordingly. For example, many having gone through the Great Depression became hoarders thereafter. The trauma of not having caused them to be compelled to not give up anything once they did have. My wife's grandmother had cupboards full of butter tubs and meat wrapping papers. During the Great Depression these things were of value, for example, presents would be gift wrapped reusing the same paper the butcher used to package their meat in. However, in recent times, even though she had available actual wrapping paper in her house, she was still compelled to save those things having gone through an era without.

Traumatic events unfortunately can be found in the history of pretty much everyone you meet. Examining the track record of those in my life I have found traits in almost all of them that resemble that of OCD in response to those traumatic events. A parents constant checking on their children to see if they are breathing after their friend's child died of SIDS. Another's need to repeatedly make sure doors and windows are locked after having been the victim of a break-in. Excessive washing of the hands after repeatedly getting ill. The girlfriend constantly making up excuses to call her boyfriend to check up on him after boyfriends have cheated. The man who won't turn the heater up enough to get warm for fear of a house fire.

We don't like being hurt. Whether it's emotionally in a relationship, physically with illnesses, psychologically as with the one who had their house broken into. When we hurt enough we become obsessed about avoiding those hurts and therefore are compelled to take precautions to prevent recurrence. My question then is when do these actions become a disorder? Some online resources recognized these traits in everyone but classified it as a disorder when “these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time, and interfere with your daily life and relationships”. In this case they are recognizing everyone has obsessive compulsive behavior but at a certain degree of intensification it becomes a disorder. Perhaps it's more accurate to say everyone to some degree has OCD in them and at higher levels it begins to more negatively impact the person's daily life. Let's examine this with a different perspective.


Book Studies

Theological Studies

Study Series

The Gospel of Salvation



Drop Me a Line

Have some feedback, insight, questions, comments, prayer requests, etc? Maybe you just want to share what God is doing in your life (I love praise reports), or maybe you can relate to some of the things here and need an ear. I'd love to hear from you!