The nightmare and the warrior: step 3 – punch!

This is the conclusion of a short series of posts. If you’ve been following along, we’re at step 3 now, which is my favorite part of the lessons learned!

I had the opportunity to hear Lisa Bevere last summer, what a mighty woman of God! As she shared from her book Fight Like A Girl, she held up a charmed bracelet, designed to be a daily remembrance of the lessons in the book. The charm I like most is the boxing glove – to remind us to “strike when the enemy draws near”.

STEP 1: prepare – prepare for battle by putting your armor on!

STEP 2: position – position yourself for the greatest advantage over the enemy!

STEP 3: PUNCH!

Friend, when the enemy draws near you, you’ve got to ball up your fist, and PUNCHHIMOUT!!

As I shared in a previous post, my victory over nightmares didn’t come instantaneously. But what happened over a fairly short period of time, was that my human spirit – (the part of me that got reborn when I accepted Jesus as Savior) – well, grew a spiritual backbone! Yea baby. Uh huh!

With the increasing understanding of who I was in Christ, came a new and bold attitude and I determined in my heart that if the enemy was going to bother me with a nightmare – I was going to bother him right back! So the next time I had a nightmare (once I was able to wake up from it), I swung my legs off the bed and began walking around my bedroom, commanding devils in the Name of Jesus to get out of my house, and off my property! [punch!]

Then I called out for God’s hulk-iest “big @$$” angels to come stand in military position around my house (“back to wall”), so that no power or principality that was acting in contrast to the Word of God could enter back in! [punch!]

And I cranked up the worship music!! Not the sleepy-time stuff, but the loud, full-on worship!! I wanted to make sure the enemy knew that I knew who’s house this was! [punch!]
I am a daughter of the Living God! And having made my dwelling place in Jesus Christ, I dwell in the shadow of the Almighty!! If he wanted a fight, he was going to get one, and I wasn’t the one he was going to be fighting with!! Are you getting the picture? [TKO!]

Finally, once I was confident that the enemy was black and blue, humiliated, cast out, and cut off … I went back to bed, and went back to sleep.

Within a few weeks, I noticed I was waking up quicker into the dreams, their power over me weakening with every encounter. When I did have a dream, I’d go through the process of making my enemy pay for disturbing me, and then go straight back to sleep again. The dreams got shorter and shorter, and less frequent.

That’s not to say that I don’t still have the occasional dream, I do. But they are few and far between, and nothing like they used to be. It’s as if the Holy Spirit that lives within me sends an alarm to my human spirit, which then tells my body to wake and call on Jesus’ Name for rescue. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken just enough to mumble “Je-sus” in a sleep-slurred voice, maybe raise a sloppy arm towards heaven while doing it, and them promptly roll over and go right back to a night of peaceful sleeping. Usually, that’s enough to do it – but if not, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m still firmly committed to making my enemy pay, and pay BIG, for daring to mess with this daughter of God! I know who I am, and I know whose I am! I sound that Heavenly Alarm, and worship my Savior while the armies of Heaven swoop in and kick the crap out of him!

If you are experiencing nightmares or panic attacks, I pray that my simple story will give you encouragement. Through Christ, you can experience victory over your enemy, making nightmares, PTSD and panic attacks part of your past, not your present! Implement these steps. Get plugged into a life-giving church. Pursue God and pursue His promises for the better days that He has planned out for you. He is faithful, and He will get you through this!

In Him,
Jenny

The nightmare and the warrior: step 2 – position

This is a continuation of a previous post, sharing of my personal deliverance from decades of recurring nightmares.  Hopefully you’ve read the previous two so that you have a background of understanding regarding this blog series.

Me:  “Pastor, I started having dreams again.  I haven’t had them in years, but they’re back.  I know what to do during the day when memories or anxious thoughts threaten to overtake me, but this is at night when I’m sleeping.  Sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep, for fear of what will meet me there! I feel so helpless!  So defenseless!”

I remember that call like it was last summer. I felt so ashamed to tell my Pastor about my nightmares, the context of them, the effect they had on me.   Many of my dreams were a mix of torment and ‘cloaked remembrance’.  Some were just ‘straight from the pit of hell’.  In my dreams, the enemy taunted the deep places in my soul, shouting “See, you’re not free of me!  You can’t stop me!”  In my dreams, I was still a victim, and I could still be victimized.  It was so shaming, so degrading.

Pastor D:  “You are not defenseless, even in your sleep.   Your body might be sleeping, but your spirit (the spirit of man, which is the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit living within you) is wide awake and on the job.  You are not without defense!”

He probably said it a little differently and maybe said more – but that simple assurance that I was not without defense, and still able to engage the enemy and win, even while my body slept – it was such a miraculous concept to me that I think I might have stopped listening for a few minutes (oops).  But I digress.

STEP 1:  prepare – prepare for battle by putting on God’s protective armor

STEP 2:  position

Just like a wise warrior wears protection (armor) for the battle, he/she will also prepare for battle by “positioning” themselves so that they have the greatest advantage over the enemy.  You’re strategy also needs to include “positioning”.  Before the end of my call with Pastor D, he gave me these simple instructions.   I am calling them “Step 2”, and am going to list them quickly here and then expound upon them a little more in a future post.

Pray before going to bed.
And in your prayers, remind yourself that as a believer, you have made your home in Christ Jesus, and therefore you are covered by the shadow of God Himself.  He is your protector while you sleep, and His Spirit resides within you to stand guard over you from the inside out.

[I recommend you read/study Psalm 91 to build your understanding]

Worship. 
Put on some worship music – something soothing (after all, you’re going to bed – not a rock concert).  It doesn’t necessarily have to be in your bedroom, but play it somewhere in your home and ideally, let it play all night long.

[Don’t laugh at me, but I like to -and often do- listen to Scripture Lullabies.  Not only is it calming worship, but I’m memorizing scripture at the same time.  One of my favorite songs is “Strength of my Heart”, but they are all amazing. Who says lullabies are just for babies!!]

Speak the Name of Jesus.
With head on pillow, and as you drift off into sleep, quietly speak the Name of Jesus to yourself. There is power and authority in His Name, and even the whisper of His Name heard through your ears will bring comfort and peace … and sleep.

 

That one phone call, and implementing these three practices, was the tipping point in my decades-long battle with recurring nightmares.   It didn’t happen overnight, but greater and greater breakthrough came, and then they began to pile up on top of each other!   I was now armed with the Word of God, protected by the Armor of God, and positioned under the Shadow of the Almighty.  Within a fairly short period of time, the enemy was on the run!

I encourage you to start implementing these practices tonight and get started on your journey to the good kind of pile up!  If you haven’t already downloaded “Love Letters”, please see the Step 1: Prepare post.   You’ve got to get the enemies words out of your head, and the only way you can successfully do that is to replace his thoughts with better thoughts.  And who has better thoughts for you than the One who created you, and sent Jesus to bring you back to Himself?   No one!!    [Oh, I would so love to tell you more about the love of God for you!]

Don’t forget to watch for the release of Step 3: Punch!   It’s my favorite step!!  🙂

Be blessed
Jenny

 

The nightmare and the warrior: about forgiveness

If you are/have been reading along in “The nightmare and the warrior” series that started here, first of all – thank you!  I realize that this subject matter is not “everyone’s cup of tea”, and if you have been reading along – it is likely because you have some familiarity (by personal experience or someone you know) with the type of night terrors I am addressing.

Innocence, by Seventh Day Slumber These are often things people suffer with in silence, either out of shame or out of hopelessness for freedom from them.  And that is a lie!  I hope my story will inspire you to stand up and fight the enemy of your soul – not on your own strength, but in the strength of Him who has already triumphed over every foe!  Through Him, you can experience freedom!

I spoke briefly in the last post about forgiveness.  That’s a complex subject, and I’m sure I’ll write more about it in future posts.  But today, I simply want to share a song that meant a lot to me when I began to confront my past and the torrent of emotions I was experiencing.

The song is “Innocence” by Seventh Day Slumber.  It’s raw.  It’s angry.  It’s redemptive.  It spoke my heart, and still does.  May it be a balm to your wounded heart as well.

In Him,
Jenny

 

The nightmare and the warrior: step 1 – prepare

This is a continuation of a previous post, sharing of my personal deliverance from decades of recurring nightmares. I am sharing out of obedience to my Deliverer, believing that my story will be an encouragement to others who may be tormented by nightmares, as well as those who may suffer from PTSD, or anyone that is plagued by panic attacks and/or paralyzing fear.

But before I begin, let me start out by pointing out what I trust is already obvious. I am not a counselor, pastor, or therapist. I do not profess to have all the answers. I am simply a woman with a past.  Dealing with that past was hard. It was scary. It was very painful. But true to His promise, God walked me through every difficult, scary and painful step of the journey, and in the process of doing so changed me from the inside out.  He will do the same for you!

So as long as we’re clear on the fact that the only qualifications I have to offer is that of my own personal experience, I shall continue.

Fear not, for I have called you by name; You are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”    (Isaiah 43:1-3 abbreviated)

Years before I called my Pastor that night, I had seen a counselor.  Ironically, when my marriage was at its lowest possible point, the very last thing I wanted to do was see a counselor!  You see, by that time, my abusive ex had 7+ years to thoroughly convince me that everything wrong with my life and our marriage was a result of my childhood.  I bought it hook, line and sinker.  So when the words “I want to see a counselor” came out of my mouth during a heated argument, I literally slapped my hand over my mouth as if to somehow silence whatever was in me that was calling out for help!  But the words were out there, and much to my surprise, my ex said OK.  Crap!  Now I was stuck!

Isn’t that funny?  I mean, the very thing that led to my rescue -confronting myself and my past- is the thing I was most afraid of doing.  In that moment, if I could have sucked those words back into my mouth, I would have done it in a heart beat.  I would have picked the hell I was in (that was known and in a perverse way, secure) to the risk and terror of having my worst fears confirmed … that my ex was right, and that I really was crazy.

Anyways, we did start seeing a counselor.  He went 3 whole times (wow!).  But I didn’t care – because by that 3rd visit, that counselor gave me a drink of living water that satisfied a thirst so deep within me that all of hell could not keep me from going back for more.    And over the course of about 3 years (starting roughly 2 years before my eventual divorce, and for 1 year during the divorcing and resulting custody battle), that man of God helped me face what I would not face before.  I acknowledged my childhood, and forgave myself and my abuser for it.  And I learned that while dissociation is a helpful coping mechanism for children who are unable to protect and defend themselves, trying to live as an adult in complete denial of what is true is not helpful at all.  I had to learn to deal with my life – past and also present – to stand up and say no.

STEP 1: Prepare

That seems like a very long lead-in, I know.   But before I can speak to dealing with tormenting dreams, nightmares, and/or panic attacks, I feel it’s important to cover the basics of warfare.  After all, no serious warrior goes into battle without preparation and protection – and neither should you!  Friend, make no mistake – there is a spiritual battle for your soul in play, whether you acknowledge it as such or not.   You’ve got to put your protective armor on if you want to stay in the battle long enough to win the victory!

Prepare for battle by putting your armor on!

Within those first few visits with Counselor John, he gave me a resource to ‘suit me up’ for the journey of going through the valley of the shadow death.  And not just a list of Bible verses, but a several pages of typed out scriptures that I could tuck in my purse, shove in the glove compartment, stick on the refrigerator, etc – so that wherever I was (with or without a Bible in hand), I had a lifeline with me.  I had armor, and that is the starting place.

About 4 years ago, I reconstructed that list (adding more to it) and shared it with my now adult daughters.  They thoughtfully listened to me as I talked them through the list, sharing with them the deep personal meaning and significance of each passage and promise, recalling and celebrating God’s victory through it all.  I am now sharing that list with you through the attached PDF entitled “Love Letters“.  I invite you to meditate on these verses.  May they comfort you and embolden you, and lay a spiritual foundation in your life upon which the grace of God can build, to bring you to the point of complete deliverance.

And while you take these love letters into the secret places of your heart, I shall continue writing – next time to share what my Pastor told me that night.

In Christ, be blessed
Jenny

 

The nightmare and the warrior

I have spoken a little about my past in other posts (under the Fear Not category).  Perhaps not in great detail, but I have not kept silent out of shame.  I know full well that my past does not define me,  neither shall I allow it dictate the course of my life – present nor future.  This non-negotiable fact is born out of the revelation of my true identity, and I bless God for walking me through the difficult journey from victim – to survivor – to victor!

That is not to say that I don’t still face challenges today that are a result (direct or indirect) of my past.  I do, but there has been so much healing and transformation during the last 20 years, that most days I give no thought to either my childhood or the abuse of my marriage.

But there are days …. or more accurately, there are nights.  Last night was one.

Provided by Dez Pain
Provided by Dez Pain

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had nightmares.   As a very small child, I had recurring dreams of a stick-figured man who hovered over me at night, of hands that reached through walls and from under the bed to grab me, of knives that pointed at me throughout the night, threatening the safety of my bed.  Even while those dreams provided a form of protection, they terrified me and influenced me deeply for decades.

Other childhood dreams mystified and thrilled me.  In my favorite dream, I would head over to the side yard of the house, reach my hands up like Superman and start kicking like a swimmer  .. and in no time at all, I would have lift off!  Once off the ground, my arms would reach out to the side, and my continued kicking would propel me higher and higher – up over the house, soaring high over neighboring streets, daringly maneuvering in between power lines and tree branches and an occasional airplane.  I found freedom in those dreams.

As I grew older, other dreams emerged. These dreams seem to be some sort of ‘cloaked remembrance’, a strange mixture of past and present.  Besides the content of these dreams, what sets them apart is the feeling that comes with them.  I imagine it is similar to a drug induced state, and it is sometimes a challenge for me to wake from them.  But about 20 years ago while living in California, I met a wonderful woman who had a similar past, and her testimony of transformation had a huge impact on my life.  As she prayed for and discipled me, greater breakthrough came, and eventually those dreams stopped.  For a season.  About 12 years ago, they started again.

Mighty WarriorI remember calling my Pastor one morning after a particularly brutal night.  I sobbed as I told him how completely violated I felt, victimized all over again as these dreams come upon me when I am asleep and completely without the ability to protect or defend myself.   I shall be forever grateful for his quick but loving correction.

Then he proceeded to teach me that I am not without defense, even when I am asleep.

And that, my dear reader, is the purpose for my writing this post.  There is no life (no life-giving impact) in simply telling you about a strange dream or new spiritual attack I experienced last night.  But there can be life-giving impact by sharing with you, as I believe I have been instructed by the Lord to do, the breakthrough I have experienced by learning how to sleep under cover.

Or more accurately, by learning how to sleep under the covering!

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.  Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.  My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.  (Psalm 63:6-8)

So for the next post or two, I will be sharing with you what my Pastor shared with me, and how implementing these practices has trained me up to be a mighty warrior of God and has given me greater victory over all the attacks of the enemy-of-my-soul … even in the wee hours of the night.  I hope you will join me, and be blessed by it.

Until then, sleep in peace!

Jenny