My mom's Alzheimer's diagnosis came in April of 2004, and for the past three years she has been in nursing home care. Sometimes Mom is sweet and loving, just as I remember her from pre-Alzheimer's days. But at other times, the enemy uses the vehicle of her disease to gain inroads to her heart and mind so that, when she becomes locked into delusions that have their source at a place I can't reach, she believes me to be her enemy. Worse, during these times, she seems at the mercy of emotions that have their source in evil; she has on occasion called down curses, expressed hatred, and wished me harm. Trying to describe these events in words is difficult; there is a frightening aspect to them because of the strength of venom that flows. During these times, I have rarely been successful in pulling my precious mom away from the darkness of the powers that hold her focus in a relentless grip.
Our faith tells us that we have victory in Jesus. Ephesians 1:19 speaks of the incomparably great power that is ours by right, because we believe. Luke 10:19 tells us that we have been given authority over the power of the enemy, and in Isaiah 52:1-2, we are exhorted to rise up and walk in the power God has given us.
But what about the times when our efforts to face down the enemy's strategies against us fail?
The devil preys upon the weak. When our loved ones become compromised, spiritual forces of evil are likely to come against us through them. This is a terrible shock at first, and I have many times been unable to face down the forces that have used my mother's voice and words to deliver hatred and threats.
Here is what I have learned from these repeated defeats:
- My mom is locked in the prison cell of her disease, and my prayers and care ease her burden. I may need to leave the room, but I always need to come back. If I can't be in her line of sight without raising her ire, I can still go over her medications list, brainstorm strategies to help, conference with her caregivers, and pray. I can always pray.
- Sometimes, maybe most times, it is best not to go head to head with the evil. Dementia patients cannot generally be talked out of a crooked perspective.
- But...don't give up too easily. If the Lord says to stand firm, stand firm. I continually have to remind myself to toughen up a bit.
- Prayer is powerful, especially powerful when I let my own puny human love for my mom lead me to pray in God's love for her.
- Corporate prayer (lots of people praying at once) is REALLY powerful.
And she said, "You're the best."
Now that's my mama.
It is frightening and depressing to see a loved one held in the captivity of disease. It is soul-withering to try and fail to help them during dark times. I continue to pray for courage to keep on trying and not to turn tail and run too easily. But when I do go creeping off in defeat as I did this last time Mom was struggling, the Lord still makes a way. About 40 people came together to pray for my mom this time around, and their precious willingness to help to bear our burdens lifted the darkness from her heart and mind.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).