One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Timothy 1:7, which states:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I’ve needed this reminder many times in my life, including when I’m starting something new (a school year, etc.) or now dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sometimes fear is the easier emotion to fall back on; when we don’t know what is coming or what we should expect, we often become afraid. Fear so often leads to worry, and maybe we feel that being worried helps us. Maybe we have trained ourselves that fear somehow accomplishes something positive or simply allows us to move forward because at least we are “doing something.” This idea is discussed quite a bit in my online Beck Institute CBT course.
The truth, though, according to this scripture, is that God doesn’t give us fear. We can infer that God doesn’t want us to fear or be afraid. Rather, He gives us other emotions and skills to handle new situations or our life in general.
God wants us to be strong and “powerful.” Of course, when thinking of “power” given by God, we often jump to think of the priesthood, or God’s power given to worthy men to act in His name on earth. The priesthood can help us—sometimes we receive priesthood blessings and those can help us make decisions and move forward.
But God also gives us strength and power individually. He gives us our agency or our ability to choose and decide what we will do. He gives us power to act. He gives us our minds, intelligence, and knowledge. For those of us who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have the power of a member of the Godhead to help us when we are worthy and seek divine inspiration and guidance. God doesn’t leave us alone. He gives us power when we most need it and even when we feel like we don’t!
There is another scripture that talks about the connection between fear and love. 1 John 4:18 states that “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
Sometimes this scripture makes me feel bad because I let the OCD boss me around so often with “fear threats.” I’m afraid that something will or won’t happen and that fear often results in my doing compulsions. So when I read or remember this scripture, I sometimes think that I am lacking in love, which makes me feel like I’m not good enough and should be able to cast out that fear.
I don’t think that’s what God wants us to believe or feel like. I’m still not sure how love can help overcome the fear that OCD instills in us, but I think maybe it starts with loving ourselves.
One of my psychologists made a comment about how OCD differs from other anxiety disorders because it has a guilt factor—we are not just worried but also think that not doing rituals to ease our obsession or anxiety makes us “bad,” “evil,” not as good as other people, or some other negative thing. This kind of thinking implies that we don’t want to be bad or evil. If we didn’t care, the OCD wouldn’t really have power over us, right? But does the fact that we care and are so anxious not to be “bad” or “evil” mean that we are unsure as to whether or not we are bad and evil to begin with?
Maybe we need to work on self-love—remembering that we have inherent value, outside of what we do or don’t do. God love us, regardless of what sins, mistakes, or errors we make. We should love ourselves too. Of course, it’s important to improve and try to be better, but we should aim to start that improvement from a place of self acceptance rather than a fear of “what if I’m actually a bad person?”
I know I need to work on this. I need to work on loving myself and accepting myself and my thoughts, feelings, and problems without trying to fight them or thinking I should be different or better. When I’m not afraid of myself, I can love myself for who I am all or most of the time, not just when I’m “perfect” or “almost perfect.”
A Sound Mind
Okay, so the “gift” of a sound mind given to us by God as listed by Timothy can also make those of us who have a mental health issue a little bitter. Where is our gift of a sound mind? What happened?
I think this idea of a sound mind might not mean that we are guaranteed to have great mental health all of our lives. This is just not going to happen. We all feel emotion and have ups and downs. To me, a sound mind means that we have the ability to think and make choices that will improve our state—this “state” meaning not only our mental health but also our emotional, physical, and spiritual states, too. We have the ability to seek and get help for our problems. We can decide to pursue help and make changes in our situations to try and get better. Our minds are gifts from Heavenly Father, and we can use them to help ourselves and others.
Overall, I think this scripture has valuable reminders that God loves us and wants us to be moving forward and living our lives without excess worry and distraction. He wants us to remember the gifts and skills He has given us rather than drowning in fear and worry. We can do this! Sometimes we forget, of course, but we can remind ourselves and work on utilizing the power, love, and sound mind that He has given us.