He has been slowly declining into reduced ability for a few years now. Initially it began with a simple loss of memory. He could communicate well, but would forget the odd detail and need to be reminded. He then began to forget more and more details. He would ask certain questions over and over, forgetting that we had already discussed what he was asking.
He has always been very pleasant and lights up when he sees me or talks on the phone. In fact, he used to always answer the phone, but now he never does.
However, there are other symptoms surrounding his dementia that are fairly concerning. He withdrew more and more in social contexts into his own little world. He became quite isolated. He would not initiate conversation, but would respond when asked a question. He slowly grew more and more detached. Now, when asked a question, he often replies with, “I don’t know”, or “I forget.”
One of the most disconcerting effects of his dementia is Dad’s loss of appetite. He just doesn’t eat or drink much anymore. And, it’s actually that which may ultimately lead to his death. He may slowly starve himself to death. No one can make him eat or drink – he must choose to do so himself.
Watching the impact of dementia on my father has been very difficult. There is really not much we can do except love him in the midst of this and ensure he is well cared for. It is hard to see a man who was so strong, robust, and full of vitality, decline into such a state.
Seeing Dad’s decline has led me to recognize a similar malady negatively impacting the lives of many Christian men – I can it “Spiritual Dementia”. The big difference between physical dementia and Spiritual Dementia is that Spiritual Dementia is self-inflicted. Let me explain…
I have seen many men over the years who begin to “forget”. They choose not to remember what God has done in their lives, what God has said to them over the years, how the Lord has worked in them and through them. They choose to withdraw and isolate themselves. They do not interact with other believers. They do not create community or choose to be part of Christian community. They slowly become more and more detached.
When you ask these men about what the Lord has been saying to them, what He has said to them, or how He is leading them, they often respond with, “I don’t know”, or “I forget”. But perhaps that which most greatly leads to their spiritual demise is their gradual refusal to ‘eat’ – to feed on God’s Word. Jesus said we don’t live on bread alone, but on the Word of God. We have to choose to feed on God’s Word or we will slowly starve ourselves. If we refuse to feed on God’s Word we will end up spiritually empty, not ‘alive’, and feeling spiritually ‘dead’ – our faith dies.
‘Spiritual Dementia’ is far more prevalent than we may think. However, there is a cure. There is hope. If you find yourself suffering from these symptoms you can experience renewed life, but you must engage your most powerful weapon – your will.
We must choose to come to Jesus for our life. We must choose to feed on His Word. We must choose to walk in community with allies in our faith. We must choose to drink the living waters He offers us.
Healing from Spiritual Dementia begins by admitting our choices have led us to this place – we have forsaken the well of living water and tried to find life outside of God. We must return to Him, ask forgiveness and ask for the real life He has for us. We must choose to feed our heart and soul on the Word of God on a regular basis. We must also choose to interact with the people of God to walk in authentic, open and honest relationships allowing others to care for us, and to care for others.
Are you suffering from Spiritual Dementia? God is waiting to heal you when you turn to Him in humility; repent, remember, feed and fellowship.
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – “
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
Hebrews 10:24, 25
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”