My name is Andrew Voigt and I suffer from an anxiety disorder called OCD. Call it a dysfunction, call it a disorder, or call it a flaw, but it’s something that I’ve been wrestling with for many years and it’s an enemy that has brought so much pain and hurt in my life. It’s affected friendships, it stressed out family members, and it’s wrecked many dreams that I had for my life.
And here is one of the many things I’ve been learning over the past several years: not everyone in this life will experience a life full of riches, glamour, worldly success, or even great health. But one thing can be certain for everyone, either at one point or another: the experience of pain.
Pain makes itself known whether it’s a a similar disorder, depression, the loss of a loved one, a failed dream, a broken relationship, or another manifestation of brokenness.
Throughout my life I’ve been running from pain, but with no success. It always has a way of finding me, regardless of my best efforts at hiding.
When I graduated from college in 2005 I took a job working for the school as a recruiter, traveling to high schools and college fairs across the country. I was on the road constantly, traveling the United States by myself, visiting with prospective students, and navigating strange cities I’d never seen. But what I didn’t expect was that pain would find me in my travels, alone and vulnerable. It was during that year of my life that I began to develop an anxiety disorder, which only grew stronger upon my move to Los Angeles. It took severe pain and prodding from my Mom and a college professor to seek help through professional counseling.
Here’s a truth about pain: it is often a warning that something isn’t working quite right, whether physically, spiritually, relationally, or mentally. We run and hide from pain as if it will provide a solution, when in reality it requires us to address it and face it.
Humanity has been broken since the Fall, the tragic moment we decided we could manage life better apart from God. Even when we feel as if we’re seeking God, the truth is that we are full of contradictions and full of our own dysfunction. As Paul reminds us in Romans,
“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’” – Romans 3:10-12
Our first step to healing has been and always will be in meeting the grace of God. Don’t get me wrong: grace is the hardest thing I’ve ever wrestled with, especially as someone who believes that life isn’t fair, the world is broken, and that nothing comes for free. But it’s the truth and a wonderful mystery of God.
And for those of you who feel that God is too disinterested and disappointed in you, that is an absolute lie. No human being can offer you complete and unconditional love, but He who is the Beginning and End can. As Jesus said,
“On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” – Matthew 9:12-13
The second part is seeking help from someone wiser than yourself. If you’re facing a similar challenge like myself, or if you’re facing depression or another emotional dysfunction, I really encourage you to seek professional help where you can find support, insight, encouragement, and guidance towards healing.
We are all going to experience pain in this life and that is a non-negotiable that comes with living in a fallen world. But we can choose hope, we can choose life, and we can find healing, even when nothing makes sense. You are loved and you are not a mistake.