And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...
I have been hyper focused on brain health since my dear mother was diagnosed with severe Alzheimer’s on the first day of December in the year 2023. It was absolutely devastating to watch her struggle to answer basic questions and perform daily tasks during her neurological assessment. I couldn’t help but think as I watched helplessly, “How could this be the mother who lovingly raised me for so many years?”. As her mind is deteriorating before our eyes, causing her to be unable to perform daily tasks, I thought about the lesson God has purposed within this trial.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s currently, the research has gained momentum and is providing HOPE for those suffering with this disease along with their loved ones. It’s a struggle to sift through all the medical vernacular to completely understand the physiological occurrences that present themselves in a mind affected by dementia. However, I have gained much insight into how to interact with a loved one suffering from this inhumane disease… insight packed with a ton of HOPE.
First and foremost, we must be mindful that our loved one is still our loved one. Yes, they may act differently and be more dependent upon us, however the same person we love is in there. And, when we love someone, we care for them with love and do things for them lovingly. I work hard to not get upset or impatient with my mother. I respond with love instead. I have grown to react with information as my guide, not emotion. Therefore, when she struggles and gets anxious, I access the situation and respond with humor, hugs, and HOPE. We laugh, love, and look at each circumstance as a new and exciting adventure. I encourage her to keep busy and active, visit with friends, and revisit her passions such as painting and crafting. We give her HOPE by surrounding her with love and grace. We remain mindful of her limitations while encouraging her to grow in new experiences with familiar interests, passions, and talents.
Naturally, I have been reflecting on my own mind health as I watch my mother decline. I have caught myself losing words, being forgetful, and repeating statements. Ugh. I went to a neurologist recently and was assured that my observations are just normal for my 50 (yikes!) year old brain (hold the laughter). He assured me that my mom’s diagnosis isn’t an automatic one for me and provided a bunch of things I can do to protect my brain such as healthy eating, drinking water, avoiding stress, exercising, learning something new (Ja, ich lerne Deutsch.), and staying as busy as I can without overwhelming my schedule. I am protecting my brain physically with good nutrition and exercise while avoiding stress and mental clutter.
While protecting my mind both physically and emotionally, I am also protecting it spiritually… with the helmet of salvation. As Christians, the biggest battlefield is the battle in our minds where most of the spiritual warfare takes place. Satan attacks our mind, knowing if he can influence the way we think, he can influence the way we act. He will try to question our faithfulness in God by tempting us with doubts regarding our salvation and our relationship with Him. As believers, we need to keep our mind focused on Jesus through these mental attacks; believing God will never leave us nor forsake us because of our belief in Jesus.
You may ask, “Why is it called the helmet of salvation?” Let’s revisit the timeframe when Jesus walked the earth… during the time of Roman occupation in The Holy Land. The Roman helmet was called a “galea” and was not only for protection, but it was also for identification. Each helmet was designed using thick material to cover the head and facial areas while also donning crests made of horsehair plumes, identifying a soldier’s unit or rank. Protection and identification… a winning combination. As the Roman helmet protected the soldier’s face and head during warfare, our helmet of salvation protects our focus, keeping it on Jesus through trials and triumphs, struggles and strides, warfare and wins. It reminds us that our salvation is secure in Jesus and will never be rescinded. It also keeps our mind on eternal end-results, not earthly experiences. Wearing the helmet of salvation is crucial in maintaining a godly focus, filled with peace, wisdom, and HOPE.
And if protection isn’t enough, the helmet of salvation also identifies you as a Child of The King. You belong to Christ: mind, body, soul, and spirit. The enemy knows which side you are on… the good side, the winning side, the eternal side. Satan sees you as a threat to his kingdom in hell where his followers will experience eternal torture and damnation. Yikes! As for my fellow believers, we wear a protective device that also identifies us as His child. We are eternally valued, unconditionally loved, embodied with an abundance of HOPE… a mind full of HOPE in Jesus… protective, identifiable, mindful HOPE.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for (an) helmet, the hope of salvation.
1 Thessalonians 5:8
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