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BIS LIVES Blog

Spiritual Amnesia: The Problem of Forgetting What God Has Done

forgetting god

“I feel so far from Jesus.” Sigh. “If only He would make Himself known to me,” I lamented to my husband as I collapsed in a heap onto our bed.

The irony in this statement is literally two days before, I texted my mom about a profound prayer experience as I walked out of Adoration. 

Two days. Sadly, this isn’t even a record for how quickly I can forget an obvious spiritual consolation. On more than one occasion, it was later the same day when I found myself begging for a(nother) sign of Christ’s presence after a pretty noticeable God-wink.

How am I this forgetful?!

What is Spiritual Amnesia?

This condition of spiritual amnesia is both humbling and frightening. How can I so easily forget how great our God is? It becomes clear when looking all the way back to Adam and Eve’s lack of trust to the Israelites wandering in the desert to Peter’s denial and fear.

Spiritual amnesia is not a new problem.

Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side… -Judges 8:34

 

If I’m honest with myself, I often judge the Israelites when reading these passages. How could they so quickly turn away from God? He wiped out Pharoah’s army, and that was right after He parted the waters of the Red Sea for them to walk through. I would never make and worship a golden calf, let alone after such incredible wonders. How ridiculous!

Yet, I do the same thing, just the 2019 version, as I worship the idols of my smartphone and the comma in my bank account.

Remembrance

I take my eyes off Our Lord, I look around at the mess of this world, and I get discouraged. I forget who God is, what He has done, and what He has promised.

I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. -Psalm 77:11

 

The answer to our spiritual amnesia is clear: we must remember.

“Remember” is used somewhere around 350 times in the Bible. If you use a variant of the word, the occurrence jumps to nearly 550. The solution is not a secret. In fact, it’s not even that complex. Unfortunately, simple does not equal easy.

The answer to our spiritual amnesia is clear: we must remember. #BISblog // Click To Tweet

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How to Remember in the Midst of Spiritual Amnesia

How do I remember? Prayer and practice. Every single day. 

The Lord makes His Spirit known in both subtle and obvious ways. Keeping our eyes on Him and open to Him is the key.

1. Pray to the Holy Spirit

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. -John 14:26

 

Jesus knows we cannot simply will ourselves and depend on our own strength to remember. Frequent prayer for the power of the Holy Spirit to help us remember is vital to battling spiritual amnesia.

2. 

Gratitude

Notice what He is doing daily and thank Him for it. The eyes follow the mind.

If I am in the market for a red minivan, I will begin to notice all the red minivans. There aren’t suddenly a spike in red minivans, I am just noticing them for the first time.

Similarly, if I notice God working in my life, I will begin to see it more. He’s always been there, but I am often too busy with an over-scheduled Google calendar or my face buried in my social media to notice.

3. Write it down

Our memories of good moments are not nearly as strong as our memories of bad experiences. Writing them down ensures the positive experiences are not lost.

I’ve tried to depend on my memory to preserve moments of the Lord moving in my life. Yet, I can walk in to a room and forget why I am there just 30 seconds later. My memory does not have a strong track record; I have to write it down.

4. Read the list

And re-read it. Probably daily, at first. Maybe multiple times per day. Remembering is not a passive state. No, it is an action. An important action we must take daily.

Practically speaking, I have a spiritual amnesia list in the “notes” app on my phone. It contains with examples of moments I’ve felt God’s love. I add to the list whenever I remember or experience a new moment, and I read the list as often as I need it (which is very often).

5. Spiritual desolation

Spiritual desolation is a true condition. We can expect to have seasons of spiritual dryness. Being able to separate real desolation from simple spiritual amnesia is important.

St. Ignatius of Loyola defines spiritual desolation as containing attributes “such as darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to low and earthly things, disquiet from various agitations and temptations, moving to lack of confidence, without hope, without love, finding oneself totally slothful, tepid, sad, and, as if separated from one’s Creator and Lord.”

An intentional recollection every day, of the moments I knew God was with me, has been a life raft in seasons of true desolation. A drop of divine water to bring relief during the dry season.

Different from spiritual desolation, spiritual amnesia stems from my inability to rest in God’s goodness and abide with Him. When I get distracted and fearful, I take my eyes off our Lord. I forget. He is still present; He hasn’t left. My frantic grasping at the promises of this world quickly take the place of peace in my heart. And I find myself collapsed in to a pile of discouragement.

Peace Comes in Remembering

As soon as I look up, fix my eyes on Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help me remember what He has done, peace once again begins to flow through my soul.

Do you struggle with holding on to the peace and presence of God’s goodness? How do you remember what Christ has done for you? 

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Bekah Knobeloch is a midwestern mama of three crazy boys and wife to a mountain man from Colorado. She is registered nurse, Marquette Model NFP instructor, and loves to travel, write, and host dinner parties. As the founder of Feminine Genius Ministries, she is passionate about education and empowerment of authentic femininity. She runs on coffee and the intercession of St. Catherine of Siena.

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