“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV)
When you are struggling with cognitive impairment and constant memory loss, it is difficult enough to function. I mean, how can you function when you don’t remember your caregiver from one minute to another? When a photo album showing that you are married to your caregiver takes you totally by surprise. But add to that hallucinations.
Some types of dementia are more prone to hallucinations than others. Apparently I have a combination of diagnoses. Along with Alzheimer’s, I apparently also have an strong element of Lewy Body Dementia. And Lewy Body is known for its hallucinations…
So now, not only do I deal with holes in my memory, but I also deal with “facts” being whispered in my head that are simply … not true!
Take, for example, the little boy who came into the living room the other day. He was very real, and his message to me was chilling: I would die when I turned 35!
Now please understand that yet another thing that has been stolen from me is my numerical sense. I used to be a top-notch mathematician, but now numbers don’t mean anything at all to me. And even though I just turned 64, when the little boy said I would die at 35, I figured that would be very soon, and I got scared!
I will admit that for a long time, I refused to believe my wife when she told me I was hallucinating. How could she know? She didn’t see or hear what I saw and heard! And she will admit that she hasn’t always handled such situations in an optimal way; and between the two of us, these hallucinations have supplied the ammunition required for some good, old-fashioned lovers’ quarrels! I mean, of course I believe my wife! She doesn’t lie to me! But this person who is so all-knowing is my caregiver… How can I believe her? Besides, wife or caregiver aside, she didn’t see or hear what I saw and heard, so how could she know if it were true or not???
I am learning, however. I am learning to tell her about the hallucinations, and I am learning to listen to her logic.
Take, for example, that little boy who told me I would die at 35. My wife explained that I was already 30 years older than 35, and I hadn’t died yet. That kind of made sense to me.
Just two days ago, I had another hallucination. It was so real that I was almost in tears. The person who entered my line of vision told me I wouldn’t be able to go horseback riding any longer. Now I had just started therapeutic riding, just the day before. It was an activity I had requested and my wife had organized, and I was incredibly excited about it. It was something I could look forward to from one week to another. The fact that I would have to stop was more than I could take, and I stumbled downstairs looking like I had lost my last friend. My wife immediately recognized my change in demeanor, and pressed me until I told her what was wrong: I was deeply disappointed that I couldn’t do therapeutic riding anymore.
She looked at me with big eyes and said, “Who told you that?”
“The guy who came into my bedroom while I was reading my Bible,” I explained.
“I promise you,” she said, “there’s been no one here but me. No one came into your bedroom.”
“Then how do I know that I can’t ride anymore?”
She smiled and gave me a hug. “You can continue to ride,” she said. “That was just an hallucination!”
I have learned something throughout all of this: I can’t believe everything I see and hear! I need to ask my wife about them in order to tell if they are true or if my mind is just making up stories again.
The Bible advises us to do something very similar: “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5 NIV).
For a couple reasons, actually.
First of all, we are warned against abundant deception: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8 NIV). This is because the devil is a liar: “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44b NIV) and we know that he will try to deceive us. Therefore, we need to be able to differentiate between His lies and Truth.
This isn’t always easy to do. Just like my hallucinations truly seem real, the devil’s deceptions also seem very real and logically correct.
And besides being deceived by outside forces as described in the above Colossians verse, we are also deceived by our own thoughts and desires: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3 NIV).
We can also do this by pretending to be what we are not: “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.” (Galatians 6:3 NIV).
In fact, our deceptive thoughts is what gives birth to sin! Check out James 1:14-15: “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (NIV).
I have to continually check every thing against truth in order to differentiate between hallucinations and reality. I am fortunate that I can ask my wife for help. In the same manner, we must always check everything we know and believe against the Truth of God’s Word, through the power of His Spirit. And just as I have to renounce the hallucinations, once God reveals the deception to us, we must also renounce it in order to walk in Truth and avoid the pitfalls of the devil.
No more hallucinations for me!
And no more deception either!
God bless you all!
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries.