It appears that my husband’s dementia has advanced to the Sundowner’s stage.  According to the website,

Sundowner’s Syndrome is the name given to an ailment that causes symptoms of confusion after “sundown.” These symptoms appear in people who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. Not all patients who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s exhibit Sundowner’s symptoms, however. Conversely, some people exhibit symptoms of dementia all day which grow worse in the late afternoon and evening, while others may exhibit no symptoms at all until the sun goes down.

Sundowner’s Syndrome largely remains a mystery to medical science, although there are several theories about why these symptoms begin at night. More and more studies are being conducted to try to determine the exact cause.

Last evening, when I arrived at the Rehab Hospital where he is currently recouping from surgery, my husband was extremely agitated and confused.  He believed that we were living somewhere together.  He didn’t know where the somewhere was; but he did know that he wanted to go home.  I tried to explain that we were in the hospital and that we could not go home until the doctor gave him the okay.  That didn’t satisfy him.  “You will never want to go home!  You would stay gone forever.  Take me home now!” he demanded. 

Over the years, I’ve fought the battle of keeping a balance between home, ministry and my relationship with the Lord.  I’m fully aware that my ministry can easily become my god.  As I drove to my next appointment after leaving the hospital, I still had Frank’s pleading words ringing in my heart, “You will never want to go home.”  As I drove in the cold silence, I began to review the past years.

In reality, I believe that I’ve kept a good balance between home and ministry.  Over the years, I’ve done this in different ways, depending on the needs of my husband and family.  Nevertheless, some things were pretty basic.

  1. Meals were always family times with china plates and napkins. 
  2. I asked people to never call me after 5PM when the family began to gather for the evening. 
  3. I’ve kept my evening appointments to a minimum. 
  4. Evening ministry was always my husband’s ministry efforts, not mine.  I supported him.  Sometimes I did more actual work than he did; but it was only to support what God had called him to do. 
  5. While our children were at home, I did not bring my work home but kept family time, family time.

However, I’m always cautious and concerned about keeping a balance between ministry and my relationship with the Lord.  The differences are subtle.  Yet, the subtleties can be deadly for our spiritual growth.   Here are some keys that I’ve learned from others who have helped me to keep on guard.

  1. I recognize that I am as vulnerable as the next person in allowing ministry to be my god.
  2. I keep ministry and my relationship with the Lord totally separate. 
  3. I allot a set-aside time for prayer and studying my Bible.  I pray in the morning and read my Bible in the evening.
  4. I keep my personal Bible study separate from my ministry study.
  5. Of course, I should be open to hearing from God during my private devotions about my ministry; but I don’t allow this time to be a part of my ministry.  In my mind, I build a barrier between the two.
  6. I keep my prayer and Bible study a private and personal meeting with the Lord.
  7. I’ve learned to listen to family and friends and their complaints regarding my ministry time.
  8. I really try to never fall into guilt regarding ministry time; but to be realistic regarding the time and energy I spend on ministry details.
  9. I’m continually looking  for ways to simplify ministry tasks, especially the ones that leave me exhausted.
  10. While I pray daily for The Special Gathering during my prayer time, I keep myself detached from the emotions of the ministry during this time.  I pray for all the Pastors of Special Gathering daily; but my prayer for myself is no different from my prayer for our South Carolina Area Director or our Executive Director. 

Can we always succeed in keeping our ministry from becoming our god?  Of course, not.  We will stumble into that trap at times.  Can we always keep our private devotions detached from our ministry needs?  No.  But God honors our efforts and our heart’s desires.  In fact, He may even allow us to fail so that we will see how dependent on Him we must be, even in our need to keep ministry and relationship separate.