Sitting at a red light, I pull up the Bible app on my phone and start reading Psalm 25: “Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee.” I say the second part in a sing-song rhythm: O my God, I trust in thee.

Let me tell you why I’m memorizing this scripture.

Wednesday, June 5 marked the 14-year anniversary of me choosing Jesus after about a year of struggling with obsessive questions. The day after marking this 14-year milestone, I drove to a writing conference where I pitched a devotional book idea based on my year of struggle.

Back home two days later, I cried on the couch as I told Stephen that I was obsessing yet again. Sometimes, thinking about my “former” problems (even in the context of writing a devotional!) can pull them right back to the surface. Was I really saved? Was salvation really by faith alone? Was repentance part of faith, or vice versa, or did they go together automatically? And why did Jesus make a few statements that sounded like works-based salvation when He knew my brain would fixate on those and forget all the times He said salvation came by faith?

Don’t bother emailing me your biblical answers. See, I hope it’s not this way for you, but I have obsessive compulsive thought patterns sometimes – and when I’m in that mindset, I can’t get out of it by answering my questions. When I try that, my brain either argues or comes up with another question. It never ends.

However, as my Christian counselor once said, the less often you feed a stray, the less it comes around. So instead of “feeding” my obsessive questions by answering them as they arise, I’ve got to go through the process she presented to me over a decade ago:

  1. I acknowledge that I have a question about (insert topic here).
  2. I tell myself I’m not going to try to answer it (even if I know the answer).
  3. I sit in the tension of whatever I feel about that for a few seconds (anxiety, fear, irritation).
  4. I move on and do something else.

I hate step 3, but it’s crucial. It trains me to stop “trying to figure stuff out” even when I’m scared to stop. Even when I feel all the feelings.

During step 4, sometimes I physically turn my head to signal a shift in focus. It helps to repeat a Bible verse or a solid biblical truth at that point – not to “meditate” on it or fixate on trying to believe it, but just to say it, out loud if possible.

Here’s the (not) fun part: My obsessive compulsive tendencies, or satan (I don’t give him the dignity of capitalization), or both, cause me to question this whole process sometimes. Is this really God’s will? It came from a counselor, not a pastor, even if she is a Christian. What if she’s wrong? What if I’m wrong?

Crying on my husband’s shoulder that Sunday, I said, “I think I’ve just gotta keep doing what I’ve been doing.” In other words, keep doing the thing that’s helped me trust and obey God for 14 years, instead of feeding into the questions that paralyze my spiritual walk.

But man, what if I’m wrong??

That’s where Psalm 25 comes in. I’m memorizing it because our pastor preached on it a week after I confessed my fretting to Stephen, and I know that psalm was addressed “To Katie, from God.” Here are the first two verses:

“Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”

In other words, “God, I’m trusting You. Please be trustworthy.” God, I’m trusting You with all these questions I can’t answer. I’m trusting You the same way I was taught to trust You 14 years ago. If I’ve done that wrongly somehow, You’ve got to fix it, because I can’t. Please be trustworthy.

After the sermon, Josh prayed something like, “Lord, I hope this scripture was as timely for others as it was for me.” Prayer answered!

Oh, and the verse I repeat when I complete step 4 and turn away from my questions? It’s 1 John 5:11, shortened and simplified as a prayer: “You have given me eternal life, and this life is in Your Son.”

May we all receive that gift and keep our trust in the Giver.