We are continuing a series about the symptoms of “spiritual” dementia. I’m comparing how my mother-in-law Audrey responded to people and life because of her Lewy Body Dementia with my own “demented” kind of thinking and responding. This symptom is “Where’s My Value?”
As Audrey lost her ability to remember, her identity and value diminished—in her eyes. She often said, “I used to be the one that everyone came to for remembering things. Now I can’t remember anything.” Soon after, she added, “I don’t know why the Lord keeps me here. I’m not good for anything.”
Sadly, the things she depended upon for her value were stripped away. And since she could no longer contribute in those ways, she didn’t see that she had any worth. Even our insistence that people enjoyed her company wasn’t comforting or affirming. Her long held beliefs of how she should contribute had been taken away.
I can identify with this aspect of dementia in my “demented spiritual” thinking. I also label certain things as my identity and value. When God has stripped those affirmations away, I’ve floundered in believing I still have meaning and significance. Or if someone gives me a message that I’m failing in what gives me meaning, I think I’m nothing, even though “in Christ,” my value never changes.
As a women’s retreat speaker, if I think my presentation wasn’t up to par or someone seemed unhappy with it, I agonize over it. Recently, a woman in the audience scowled at me the whole time I was speaking. Adding to that, I believed that I hadn’t done my usual good job. I drove home beating myself up. What I depended upon for my value was challenged. I even thought of returning my fee.
After a few days of dealing with my feelings, I knew I was depending upon my performance rather than my position in Christ for the source of my value. And regardless, I was just as loved by God. And if it was true that I had not done a good job or I hadn’t prepared adequately, I could ask for forgiveness.
As I worked through this, I recognized how I’m like Audrey. I’m “demented” to think my value is based upon my performance. Thankfully, my true value and worth are based in who I am “in Christ” which never changes.
Our final symptom will be covered in our next post: “Don’t Make Me Suffer.”