Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Space Between Sleep and Awake

It’s not unusual that I find myself, early in the morning - somewhere in the space between sleep and awake - in the midst of a difficult dream. Usually it happens while the birds sing and celebrate outside my window, or the neighbor’s roosters call out to the morning sun. It’s the time of day when I’d rather sleep, but the world is waking and nudging me to do the same. I drift in and out of a doze, and occasionally I’m haunted by a dreamed assault from an enemy who attacks while I’m exposed and vulnerable. 

More often than not, the dreams pertain in some way to past sin. Several times a month, I wake with disturbing thoughts about my marriage - a message from the evil one who constantly accuses and whispers the lies that I’ll get what I deserve.  Some have suggested the dreams come from a “taunting spirit,” since they’ve stayed with me for so many years.

In the past, I’d carry these dreams with me for days. I’d allow the doubts and the insecurities they introduced to manifest in my thought life. I’d share the dreams with no one - they were too ugly to verbalize.  Sometimes in those morning hours, I’d cuddle into my husband, Mike, and let his arms protect me from the assault. Since I was still carrying the burden alone, It’s wasn’t an effective defense. It didn’t stop my hurt feelings, anger, or imagined betrayal of my husband who was purely innocent.   

Over time, I eventually learned the benefit of sharing the dreams with Mike. Now, he reassures me of truth, of his love, and fights for me with prayer. Instead of carrying the assault for days, I now can release it after a few short minutes and celebrate victory.  The dreams haven’t stopped, but they no longer grip my mind and emotions. Together Mike and I band together, put on the full armor of God and extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy.  

Well - most of the time we do, anyway.  

Recently I had one of those difficult dreams. In the dream, Mike and I had been called in separate directions for work-related tasks and I found myself in an unusual situation of sitting with one of his employees. Out of the blue, she said to me, “I’ll just bet that he was the one who cheated first.” In the architecture of the dream, I came to realize that Mike hadn’t been called away for work - he chose to leave our marriage and everyone except me knew of the infidelity.

Soon I was awake enough to take action. I swung my feet onto the floor, tiptoed around our sleeping dogs, and navigated my way to the bathroom.  When I gathered my wits, I returned to our bed to share the dream with Mike.  I found him, however, in his own space between sleep and awake.  When I said, “I dreamed you left me,” he somehow mistakenly heard, “I dreamed you loved me.”  

His reply:  “It’s more than a dream, baby.”

As you can imagine, that wasn’t at all what I needed to hear.  We had to replay the conversation a few times before we got it right. By the time we understood one another, we were laughing over the entire exchange.

Had this same conversation taken place a few years earlier, before I’d learned to navigate and combat the dreams, it could have been disastrous. Over the years, I’ve learned to overcome the temptation to be offended by my husband for things I’d only dreamed he’d done.

We sometimes feel hard-wired to react with defensiveness, to put up a fight for our own honor, or to show the world that WE are right.  When we feel wronged, we hold a grudge, we build a proverbial fortress of protection around our own hearts, or turn our backs on anyone we see as dangerous.  

This is a troubling place to reside, and one that hinders us from living in the fullness of Christ. Our thoughts stay fixed on ourselves instead of facing our problems and walking in redemption.  I want no part of living here.

I’m grateful for what I’ve learned over the years. If the dreams continue as a reminder - as a memorial stone - of the journey we’ve navigated, I’ll accept them. Today, unlike my past, the dreams remind me of victory in Christ and the beauty that comes from recognizing and embracing His best.

Your Turn

Share spiritual growth you've achieved that set you free from a plaguing situation.

What are your best tips to help others overcome something similar?

Continue the conversation by leaving a comment below or commenting on Facebook or Twitter.

Be Strengthened Today, By The Word,
Psalm 119:28


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