Cloudy With A Chance of Grace 

I cannot remember the last day I went for a run when it didn’t rain. Ireland is renowned for its beautiful green countryside but I mean really? Could we have one day when I can go out for a run and not come back looking like a drowned rat? At this rate I will turn green myself. Or at the very least develop webbed feet. Which is not a good look for a middle aged man training for a marathon in just under five weeks. 

I keep telling myself that this will benefit me long term as come race day I have to be prepared to go out and perform, whatever the weather conditions. I doubt the race organisers would take kindly to me asking them to reschedule were the heavens to open. Wet weather does have its benefits. It cools you down but try telling that to the bespectacled man setting out to run 26.2 miles without windscreen wipers. How I haven’t ended up in a ditch yet I do not know. 

So when the ‘Loop of the Lough’ Marathon comes around on 25 November I will have no excuses if I awaken to wet roads and grey skies. I will have to don my wet weather gear and dodge the puddles the best that I can. Failing that I will probably end up in the lough but I will give it my best shot anyway and will have no excuses.

Recently I have felt that it has been Fionnuala and I against the world. I won’t bore you with the details (as I’m seeking to be positive here) but it sometimes feels like once we overcome one obstacle there is another larger one in our path. It has been disheartening and frustrating. I pray about it but, at times, feel as distant from God as I have ever been. I ask him for wisdom and guidance but often feel as if we are fighting a losing battle.

I’ve lost a lot of friends this last year. This has been largely my own fault but I do feel let down all the same. I have trust issues and am struggling to make friends. Which is hugely hypocritical given the trusts I have betrayed in the past. I cling to God, Fionnuala and the kids as they are really I have. This initially deflated but then I realised that they are really all I need. All the more so as I so nearly lost them.

I am making a big effort to feel less sorry for myself in both my writing and thinking. Before I adopted this new approach a Taylor Swift song constantly resonated round my brain – I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me. Except I added an extra line – I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me….especially myself. I’m trying to move past that now because, otherwise, I am no good to my family. And I will never open up again to the possibility of new friendships.

I used to walk through life with a permanent rain cloud over my head. I truly was Mr. Doom and Gloom. The pity party was permanently raging in my head. And, just has been the case with my recent training runs, I was regularly soaked to the bone in sadness. I try to think of it differently now. I am still getting soaked but this time it is by the grace of God. Who drenches me on a daily basis. He has given me a loving family, a home, a job and a healthy body and mind allowing me to write and run.

I have a lot to be grateful for. Thank you God for raining on my parade. The grass is always greener or His Side.

Psalm 72:6 – ‘May He come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.’

How was your day on a scale of 1-10?

Where are you today and what is the weather like?

Did God shower you with grace today?

Modern Life Is Rubbish

It doesn’t take much to annoy me and I got very annoyed at work yesterday. I felt left down and undermined by the actions of a colleague who had taken an issue to our boss rather than first discuss it with me and find a way to resolve the problem. I’m even getting annoyed as I type this now. So much for writing being a cathartic experience.

I lost a lot of respect for the person in question and, as for ever trusting them again, well don’t get me started. It was the trigger for me to look back over the last year or so and reflect on a number of people who I perceive to have let me down. People who I thought were friends but have subsequently been revealed to have been indifferent and uncaring. Others have attempted to dictate to me; throw my past in my face at every available opportunity.

I have very few friends now. I have massive trust issues given the events I have described above. The thought of establishing new friendships now fills me with dread. Why go to all that effort when ultimately it will all end in ruin. At this stage of life people have formed their inner circle of friends. They don’t want any more. I feel like an intruder and an interloper. Unwanted and excluded. 

My pity party was promptly ended by God. He has a habit of doing that. And I realised I was being a massive hypocrite. How can I be expected to trust others when I don’t trust God. When I don’t trust myself. What about the number of times I have betrayed the trust of my family down the years. Ripped it up and thrown it in their faces. Lived in the shadows and hid from the truth of who I really was.

Yesterday I told Fionnuala what was the point forgiving others when they just let you down time and time again. Why bother? Yet Fionnuala persisted with me when I didn’t deserve it and I hope that it was worthwhile in the end. Her love and courage dragged us through the mess I had created. She didn’t have to but she did. Just like Jesus dragged mankind out of its self inflicted mess at the Cross.

Recent world events do nothing but reinforce the mess we are still in. But God has not given up on us just like Fionnuala has not given up on me. She displays more Christ like attributes in her little finger than I do in my entire body. I do most of the writing for the blog and, as such, receive a lot of positive comments. But really they should be reserved for her. Without her I am nothing. I see Jesus in her every day and that keeps me going.

It is 6:00 am as I write this. Today is a new day. I hope and pray that my frustration and resentment do not get the better of me today. I hope and pray that I can rise above petty office politics and be the better man. I hope and pray that I can focus on those who choose to love me despite my many inadequacies. I hope and pray that I can be more like Jesus and less like Stephen. 

I hope and pray….

John 14:1 – ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.’

Have you woken up feeling frustrated and resentful?

Do you have trust issues? Have you been let down recently?

How do you feel now after reading this post?

Forgive and Forget

Fionnuala here today not sure if Stephen will be blogging as he is away with work so thought I would write about something I feel God has been nudging me about over the summer. 

Over the summer both of my parents became ill at the same time which resulted in me spending a lot of time waiting around hospitals and then at my mums house when she got home.  This resulted in me thinking about forgiveness and holding grudges 

I grew up with my parents arguing and fighting most of my life even both sets of my grandparents argued and fought with each other and one of them didn’t even share the same bedroom so to me this was normal life and how grown ups behaved.  When Stephen and I had an argument we both had different ideas of how things would go.  Stephen drove me insane by wanting to talk it out and try to resolve the argument where my idea of normal was going into a sulk and giving each other the silent treatment for not hours or days but weeks or months nobody saying sorry because they were right and the other was wrong and so this resulted in us arguing about arguing- total madness!

If holding a grudge was an Olympic sport I’d win gold every time.  I would mentally take note of anything that somebody said or did to me and bring it up months or years later just to prove that I was right and they were wrong.  

Eventually Stephen’s logic of “you should never go to bed on an argument” got through to me and I started to see that what I grew up with wasn’t normal it was time for that chain to be broken time to get off that roundabout so that it wouldn’t be the normal for our children.

I have now learnt that it is so much easier to love and forgive somebody than to take note of their wrongs and throw it up in their faces when they are at a low point in their lives this is what I did just to make me feel better but it never really  did if anything it just made me feel horrible.

Bearing grudges on others is like having a cancer inside of you it spreads rapidly throughout your body strangling all the goodness until you are left with nothing but hatred and bitterness.

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

When stephen was at his lowest I didn’t like that version of him and it would have been very easy for me to turn my back and walk away from him but by showing him love, faith and hope, because he didn’t have any of this for himself, and putting all my trust in God I was able to forgive him.

So the question now is how do you forget?  By handing it all over to God he can take that hurt and pain and channel it into something beautiful.  Before I became a Christian there was a song that I could never listen to because it took me back to a time and place that I did not want to be reminded of then one day it came on the radio in the car and as I reached out to turn it off God gently nudged me and told me to listen to it I ended up laughing and since that day that song has no affect on me anymore. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

The Dark Hedges 

Sometimes even bloggers need a day off. Fionnuala and I took the kids on a Game Of Thrones tour today. She looks like Daenyrs Targaryen. I don’t look like Jon Snow.

Are you a Game Of Thrones fan? 

Who is your favourite character?

Books or TV series?

Life Without Diet Coke

If you had to spend the rest of your life on a desert island what three items would you take with you? It’s one of those questions we have all been asked at least once in our lives. And the answers often say a lot about who we are and where we are at in our lives.

The question popped into my head the other day and my subconscious went into overdrive. Do wives and children count as one item? And if not which one of my three kids get the heave ho. Because obviously Fionnuala is a shoe-in. Obviously….

What about books? I am an avid reader and couldn’t survive without more than three books? Which books? What if I brought my Kindle Fire? Then I could have hundreds of books. Happy Days! But hang on. Is there wifi on the island? And for that matter electricity?? This is more difficult than I first thought. Aaaaaaaarrrrggghhhhh!

My Diet Coke addiction raises other issues. I drink a ridiculous amount of the stuff. More than I should I know. It started at university when I got hooked on it in order to get me through endless nights of panicked cramming. And my love affair with it has blossomed from there.

I can’t manage a day without it. I have tried. And failed miserably. Let’s just say it would end up like that scene in ‘Trainspotting’ involving Ewan McGregor and the three buckets. It’s one of my first actions in the morning, just like a nicotine addict reaching for a cigarette from their bedside table. 

My office desk is cluttered with empty tins. I know where to go in Belfast for the best deals and have been known to boycott stores when their offers end. I prefer the taste of tinned Diet Coke to bottled Diet Coke. Is that even possible? And don’t get me started on Diet Pepsi. It would be like offering methadrone to a heroin addict.

So that’s that sorted tben. My family (included as one item), my Kindle Fire (if wifi and electricity are included in the equation) and an unlimited supply of Diet Coke. Can a fridge be thrown in as well he asked hopefully?

Your three items will no doubt be different. But they all have one thing in common. They are items that we can’t live without; or at least think we can’t live without.

So what about God? Where does he fit in? Can we live without him? It pains me to say that whereas I can’t go a day without Diet Coke, I have more than once gone days (weeks he cringed) without picking up my Bible or praying. And as for living my life like Jesus as opposed to like selfish, sinful Stephen. Er…….

We fill our lives with earthly junk. Gorge ourselves on earthly needs. Bow down to false idols every day. And amidst all this noise and clutter God is often pushed to the back of the queue. But at the end of the day it’s all meaningless. 

The only person who can fill a God sized hole is God. And the beauty of being a Christian is that we believe he resides within us in the form of the Holy Spirit. And when it comes to talking to him you don’t need wifi or phone signals. He has given us a more effective communication tool. It’s called prayer. 

Now I’m off to post this blog and celebrate with a Diet Coke. I’m sure God won’t mind….

Ecclesiastes 1:14 – I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

What items would be on your Desert Island list?

What is your secret (or not so secret) addiction?

When did you last talk to God?

Calcification Of The Soul

Regular readers of the blog (Hi Mum) will know all about the foot injury I sustained while out running last month. The initial prognosis was an avulsion fracture of the cuboid bone in my left foot and torn ligaments. Dr. Google informed me that this could mean months out of action. Which seemed to bring to an end my dream of running a half marathon for charity on 21 June. Which is in 36 hours and 23 minutes to be precise. Not that I’m counting.

However as I write this I am preparing to go out on my final training plod before the big event tomorrow. Yes I’m running it. The foot is 100% again. No crutches. No pain. Prayers have been answered and I am going to do it, having been given the all-clear by my physiotherapist last week.

The reason? Well I truly believe that God played a huge part given the intense pain and discomfort I was in at the time. Rest and doing what the medical staff advised me to also undoubtedly ended. But there was a third reason.

The foot wasn’t broken.

When I was shown the initial x-ray there was, clear as day, a shadow adjacent to the bone. It was explained to me that this was a flake of bone that had been torn from my foot when the ankle ligament became detached. Sorry for the graphic detail here but it did look that way even to my uneducated eye.

Fast forward two weeks and the physiotherapist cheerfully informed me that the initial diagnosis had been inaccurate and the official verdict of the radiographer who had subsequently assessed the x-ray was no fracture. But then what was the mystery UFO (Unidentified Floating Object) that had shown up on the x-ray?

Turns out that when a tendon or ligament is overused (say by a middle aged man who should know better but still insists on running marathons) it becomes inflamed. Which can lead to the build-up of calcium salts in the relevant area. A bit like barnacles on the hull of a ship. It is called calcification.

How many times in your life have you felt broken? Unable to stand? Utterly helpless? In incredible pain? And I’m not talking physically broken. But mentally, emotionally, spiritually. You have hit rock bottom and can see no way out of the dark hole you have dug yourself into. 

You have allowed life to overwhelm you. Years of guilt, secrets, lies and regrets have steadily accumulated to the stage where you feel irrevocably broken and defeated. Calcification of the soul.

As a person I have been there. More than once. But when I decided to become a Christian four years ago God set to work removing all the grime and dirt that I had allowed to develop during my journey through life. He picked it all away. Not a pretty process but a necessary one.

Don’t get me wrong. I still mess up. It is a constant work in process. Like painting a massive road bridge that takes years to complete. Once they get to one end the painters have to go back to the other side and start all over again. 

God can remove all of the dirt. And when he shows us the x-ray we can see that there was no fracture. Our souls were not permanently broken. They just needed a little godly TLC.

You are not broken. You are loved. Just hand the junk over to God. Decalcify today….

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Does the above message speak to you? We would love to hear your thoughts.


I was walking through the train station this morning praying that God would grace me with a blog idea that would have a positive impact on the life of someone who read it. I was concentrating so wasn’t really looking where I was going, causing me to lose my balance and stumble into a man walking to my right.

I mumbled an embarrassed apology to him and continued on out of the station and into the city. No harm done, or so I thought. Then I remembered (or rather God prompted me) a book I read some weeks ago called ‘Touch’ by Claire North. It is the story of a spirit named Kepler who can move from human body to human body via the slightest touch of human skin. In the book it is known as ‘jumping.’

Kepler was formerly a human who was brutally murdered but at the point of death ‘jumped’ into the body of his (or her. We are never told either way by the author) killer. Now hundreds of years old the spirit is being hunted by a sinister international syndicate determined to wipe out Kepler  and his/her fellow spirits. 

For they are more than one. The spirits roam the earth imparting good or evil as they see fit. Upon jumping they inherit all the physical and attributes of their hosts. But not the memories. Some remain with their hosts for mere seconds before ‘jumping’ to the next occupant. On other occasions they remain days, weeks, months and even years in the body.

Following a jump the original host has no memory of the period during which they have been occupied. Young men can regain their senses to find they are 10 miles from where they last recalled and they have no recollection of the previous day. Others awake continents away and decades later to a life they have no memory of.

It’s a fascinating premise and a great read. And I’m sure there are many times we have all wished we could escape our mundane, messed up lives and start again. Or looked enviously at someone we regard as more attractive, eloquent, wealthier or ‘happier’ than ourselves. 

Unfortunately life doesn’t work like that. We have one life, one body, one chance. And while that might appear hopefully inadequate at any given time there has to be a method to the madness. 

As a Christian I have faith that God created me as I am for a purpose. I must be on this earth for a reason. Otherwise life makes very little sense. If I am only a random collection of molecules genetically thrown together for a finite period of time then my outlook is fairly grim.

I regularly struggle as to what that purpose is. Especially on the bad days when the grass looks so much greener on the other side. But as I once heard a pastor say in response to this cliche ‘Well maybe you need to start watering the grass on your side a little bit more.’

God has equipped us all with gifts that will allow us to transform the lives of others within our sphere of influence. That sphere can be a home, a classroom, a sports team or an entire nation. We don’t get the opportunity to ‘jump’ but we do get the opportunity to ‘touch.’ To be kind, to be patient, to show compassion and to fight injustice. To love. 

So today. Don’t jump. Touch….

Jeremiah 29:11 – ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

When did you last want to ‘jump’ out of your own life into another one?

Where is your sphere of influence?

How has God touched your life lately?

The Persistent Widow 

My wife, Fionnuala, is many things. Loyal, loving, forgiving, practical and incredibly patient to name but a few. The latter has come in particularly handy since marrying me. She is also persistent. Some men might call this nagging. But not me. Because I value my life.

She asks me to do ‘stuff’. I don’t do it. She persists. I still don’t do it. She continues to persist. This often involves persisting loudly (shouting) and inducements (thinly veiled threats). I normally cave in at that point.

Persistence is defined as ‘continuing firmly or obstinately in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.’ Which brings me to Luke Chapter18:1-8 where Jesus tells the Parable of the Persistent Widow.

You can read it again (or for the first time) yourself but it is the story of a poor widow who nagged (I mean persisted with) a hard hearted judge until he threw his hands up in exasperation, muttered ‘whatever’ and granted her justice in her case.

Jesus used this parable to teach us the importance of persisting in prayer. If the aforementioned judicial Scrooge eventually listened to the widow then how much more likely is our loving God. He might not do so in the way we want, or at the pace we want, but he will always hear our prayers and answer them with our best interests at heart.

All we have to do is persist. Prayer does work and can change lives. Fionnuala and I would like to pray for you tonight. All you have to do is leave a comment detailing your prayer request. You can tell us as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. 

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

How can we pray for you today?

The Man With No Brain 

Yesterday morning I had a physio appointment at the hospital to assess the foot injury I sustained a few weeks ago when out running. Despite having hobbled about the house on crutches in a compression bandage for several days our ever alert teenage son, upon learning I was off to the hospital, asked why I was going. ‘They want to check if he has a brain’ replied my ever witty wife, sharp as you like.

My son mulled this over for a few moments before asking in all sincerity ‘Is that really the reason you are going to the hospital?’ It’s hard to believe that this is the same boy who passed his end of year exams with flying colours earlier this term.

Later that night Fionnuala and I were watching a new TV drama called ‘The Loch’. It is a crime series and centres around a body tied down with weights at the bottom of Loch Ness in Scotland. I have always wanted to run the Loch Ness Marathon but I’m not so sure now having watched this show. Anyway, the first episode ended with a close up of the submerged body to reveal that’s its heart was missing.

It got me thinking. If we had to choose which do you think we could cope best without – a brain or a heart? On the one hand the centre for our logic, reasoning and intellect. And on the other the organ associated with our desires, passion and emotions.

Both have their pros and cons. It’s a tough call. The two traditionally are pitted against one another, hence the phrase the heart overruling the head and vice versa. And I think most of us would plump for retaining our hearts. After all what would life be like without feelings, without emotions? Without love? Doesn’t the Bible say that all our deeds and acts are meaningless without love? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

So that’s that sorted. The heart wins. Bye Bye Mr. Brain. We need to love. Love is an emotion. Love wins hands down every time right? Er… As Christians we cannot allow our hearts to dictate our every action. And love is not an emotion. It is a conscious decision, an act of will even when every fibre in our bodies is screaming at us to do the exact opposite. 

When Jesus told us to love our enemies he was not thinking of the gushing emotion that overwhelms us the first time we fall ‘in love.’ No he was referring to gritting your teeth and often forcing ourselves to show compassion and kindness to people who we don’t particularly like; people who will never say thank you; people who view us as weak, naive and gullible.

One of my favourite Christian books is ‘The Mystery’ by Lacey Sturm. In it she writes of emotional love as opposed to the more deliberate (and therefore to many, dull) love espoused by Jesus. Emotional love is invariably a lie that leads us down false paths. 

‘It’s exchanging real pearls for fake ones that won’t last. We yearn for it, because it masquerades as the true love we need from heaven. But when the mask comes off, we realize that true love is not who we are dancing with. There is a faint voice at our backs whispering truth to our hearts.

Following your feelings has deceived you.

Looking for a soul mate has taught you to chase the wind.

True love is not a wind that deceives and disappears.

Choose life. Choose truth. Choose love. But make sure it is a love governed by the head and the heart. Choose Jesus love.

When did you last love someone through gritted teeth?

What was their response?

How did you feel afterwards?

The French Lady

You see some strange sights walking to work. Take earlier this week. I was taking my normal route from the train station to the office which involves walking past a large coffee shop in the city centre. At that time of the morning there are normally a smattering of workers sitting outside getting their last hits of caffeine and nicotine before reluctantly dragging themselves back into the rat race.

This day was no different. I half glanced in the direction of the coffee shop before walking on past it, no doubt day dreaming about my next award winning blog. But then I heard it. A woman’s voice speaking loudly in a foreign language. Appalling  linguist as I am even I was able to tell that she was speaking (or shouting) in French.

The shouting continued. I looked over to see a well dressed elderly lady sitting outside the coffee shop. She was shouting across the street. Thinking she was a tourist (yes believe it or not Belfast has quite a few) I naturally followed her gaze to see who she was talking to. A grandchild who had perhaps strayed too far. Or a husband taking photographs of a sedentary pigeon or passing bin lorry.

There was nobody there. Oh there were people about. But it was quite obvious that none of them knew this lady from Adam (or Eve) and were studiously avoiding making eye contact with her. Hoping she would disappear if they did so long enough. Or at least shut up in order to save their embarrassment.

I did the honourable thing. I put my head down and walked on as well. Not something I was particularly proud of. But I had a meeting to go to and the last thing I needed was trying to communicate with a French pensioner when my sole topic of conversation would have been telling her my name and where I live – Je m’appelle Stephen. J’habite dans Belfast.’

I felt sorry for the lady. She clearly had some kind of mental health issue. She seemed bewildered and confused. Maybe she was asking for help. But nobody understood. Or took the time to understand. Worse still would anyone have stopped to assist her if she was shouting in English? I have my doubts.

There are people all around us who need our help. Some are more obvious than others. But they are on our radar. We might not understand what their specific needs are but it is clear that they are vulnerable and in trouble. Just like I did not understand what the lady was saying but I understood that all was not well with her.

I saw and heard enough to act. But I did not. Just like in your sphere of influence today you will walk past people clearly in need of your help. The desperate, the addicted, the broken. Some are more visible than others. They can be sitting begging on the street corner. But they are just as likely to be found in your classroom, office or neighbourhood. 

You might not be able to do much. But do want you can. Where you can and when you can. Be a light in their world. For the light will always overcome the darkness.

Merci mes amis….

Do you know somebody who needs your help today?

What could you do to help them?

How many languages can you converse in?

Be Still 

One of the most popular and oft quoted verses in the Bible can be found in Psalm 46:10. It’s only eight words long but for millennia now it has given hope and comfort to millions of Christians across the globe. I want to talk a little bit about the first two words.

BE STILL….To me this suggests that we are perpetually in motion. Backwards, forwards, sideways. It doesn’t really matter. We humans tear through our lives at a thousand miles an hour. We don’t have time to listen to God. There is too much else to do. Too many distractions. Too much to worry about. Too many problems to overcome. And no matter how independent and self sufficient we are at some point it all gets too much.

We always seem to be searching for something. That elusive ‘missing ingredient’ that will somehow permanently satisfy us and satisfy our endless want. This invariably involves an idol. Money, food, relationships, drugs, exercise. The list is endless. And in isolation none of these ‘things’ are necessarily bad for us. In fact they can be very good for us. 

No, they become bad when they become a barrier between God and ourselves. When they replace him at the centre of our lives. When the noise of the world drowns out his small, quiet voice asking us to BE STILL.

Stop moving. Stop wanting. Stop searching. JUST STOP. Hand this need over to him. For he is ALL that we need, this craving, this emptiness that gnaws away inside of us. Because only when we stop and drown out the bewildering noise can we regain our focus and clarity. Regain our sanity.

Clarity as to where we must place him in our whirlwind existences. He is the eye in the hurricane of our lives. He is the sanctuary, the retreat, the safe place. All we have to do is BE STILL. Only then can we truly build a relationship with Jesus. Through prayer, study and worship. 

Only then can we get to know him. As our God. The one who ultimately matters.

Just be still.

What are you chasing in your life at the moment?

When were you last truly still before God?

How did you achieve this stillness?

I’m A Little Bit OCD

I was enduring the season opener of Big Brother UK last night. Fionnuala watches this every year hoping to recreate the halcyon years of Nasty Nick, Craig the Builder and Tourettes Pete. But by Week 2 she has invariably given up as that years conveyor belt of desperate wannabes have her diving desperately for the remote control. 

This year promises to be no exception. The Bible tells us to love our enemy. I am reluctant to include perma tanned, obnoxious, Z list reality TV stars in this admittedly open ended verse. Serial killers, yes. ISIS, yes. But the Season 3 cast of Geordie Shore? God is really testing me here.

But I digress. Lurid as they were I manfully watched each contestant totter out on stage to give vacuous, insipid answers to questions posed by an increasingly bemused Emma Willis. Sexual conquests, excruciating personal hygiene issues, nothing was taboo for this motley crue. If nothing else it made my self-worth and value to society soar as the night progressed. 

Out traipsed Miss Nigeria UK (the best looking Nigerian woman in the UK or the best looking British woman in Nigeria I pondered) to proudly declare herself as the ‘definition of OCD’ to the baying audience. She loved cleaning or something like that.

Once again OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) had been dismissively stereotyped as a positive attribute, something to aspire to be, something to shout from the rooftops. OCD was quirky, fun and an invaluable life skill. Yet whenever I hear the words ‘I’m a little bit OCD’ or ‘I suppose we all have a bit OCD in us’ it is akin to scraping nails down my mental blackboard.

OCD is not fun. Asking your manager at work the same question 46 times in one day to the point where they look at you as if you are insanity personified is not fun. You know the answer in the first place. They have confirmed that to you 46 times. But did you hear them correctly? What if you misheard them each time? Or the answer wasn’t in exactly the sequence of words you needed it to be? Best ask it one more time. Just to be 100% certain. This will be absolutely, categorically the last time. Unless of course….

OCD is not fun. Binge eating eight days in a row to the point where you are nauseous but having to ensure that you eat certain foods in a certain order, in a certain room while reciting a certain mental mantra in exactly the right order is not fun. And if you get even one of these variables wrong then it’s onto Day 9. And you can’t finish on an odd number. So roll on Day 10.

OCD is not fun. Thinking you are a paedophile and a threat to your kids is not fun. Convincing yourself that you are a closet homosexual and you need to confess all to your wife is not fun. Compromising every living relationship in your life by wanting to blurt out unwanted, obscene thoughts about that person is not fun.

OCD is not fun. It never sleeps. It is the wriggling monster in your mind that you can never pin down, that you can never drown out. It is brutal, uncompromising and seeks to overwhelm every other rational thought in your mind. It wants to take over. It wants to break you. It wants to destroy you. 

I’m not a little bit OCD. I’m 100% OCD. It will always be there. Lurking, waiting, probing for the slightest chink in my armour. An armour of counselling, family support, medication and prayer built up through bitter experience and countless battles. An armour that works for me 99% of the time now after twenty years of utter chaos at the hands of this crippling mental illness.

It’s there. It always will be. And it’s not fun.

Do you have OCD or know of someone with it? Tell me about your experiences?

If you need support or prayer please comment below. We can help.

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