I suppose we all have similar wrestling’s when we dare to step out of our comfort zone and attempt to do something ‘bigger than ourselves.’ The last few weeks, a not-so-kind and not-so-small voice has been taunting me with questions like “Who are you to _____ (speak of life and liberty, hope and deliverance)? I know the truth about you.” So let’s just get this out of the way right now: I’m a flawed human. I’ve got junk, struggles, and issues. My life is a mix of highs and lows, failures and successes. And I still deal with many of the things I write about in my blog posts. Why?? Simple; because even though I may have gained a certain level of victory in these areas, we all know that ‘the devil don’t like losing!’ He is always, and I mean ALWAYS, trying to regain territory lost to him – be it 2000 years ago, 20 years ago, or 20 minutes ago.
“And I said, ‘this is my anguish, But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old, I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds; Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God?” ~Psalm 77:10-13
As I’ve been preparing to start this next series of posts on the subject of Dreams and Nightmares, which is really a focused continuation of my chronological testimony (aka “My Story”), the instructions of the Old Testament about ‘remembering’ have taken on new colors of meaning for me.
“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’” ~Deuteronomy 4:9-10
To the enemy of my soul that taunts me for revisiting all these old wounds and places of soul torment, my response is: “I will not forget. I shall remember the works of the LORD, surely I will remember His wonders and of the miracles He performed on our behalf. He has brought us out and given us liberty as promised. Who is so great a God as my God!”
And with that as my confession (proclamation) of faith, let us begin …
Considering all I went through up to the age of 30 (I left “T” just a few months before my 31st birthday), I think it funny that it is THIS subject that brings tears to my eyes. I suspect that’s because by the very nature of dissociation, much of my childhood terrors seem very distant to me and at some level I was still practicing dissociation (or at least I was trying to) during the chaos taking place in my second marriage. As Counselor John once told me, “dissociation was a self-preservation mechanism needed to survive the abuse of my childhood … but the practices that saved me as a child were wreaking havoc in my adult life! I had to grow up and learn how to deal with my life”.
Well, in the early 1990’s, I was doing just that – growing up and learning to deal with my life. I left “T” mid-1991, and while we were in/out of court for another 2-3 years, I was learning to stand up to him; to speak loudly on behalf of myself and my daughters, and to carry a big stick (i.e. the protection of the Father and the favor of Family Court Services who pegged him in about 10-seconds flat!).
By the mid 90’s, my daughters and I were settling down into some resemblance of a normal life. We had a great church family, friends who loved us, and I was on a good career path in selling technical manufacturing services to the electronics industry. Even greater peace and healing came in approx. 1995 (?) when we moved about an hour away and closer to one of my sisters. That extra distance between me and “T and She” meant I was no longer over my shoulder for sight of them in the parking lot of the grocery store, etc. Wow! What a difference.
Eventually I was able to purchase a small house – a sprawling 832 square foot home on the frontage road to the freeway. It was perfect for us and a complete miracle that I secured with a $100 earnest deposit and a promise to buy it in 3 years (I’d love to tell you about that sometime!). Before escrow closed, I made a deal with “T” that I would waive off child support if he would give me a lump sum payment for back support (as I was a little short of funds). Some might think that was foolish – that I should have taken him to court and gotten what was due us. But in truth, I just wanted to be done with him! I hated being tied to him for finances, knowing that he could still jerk me this-way-and-that anytime he wanted just by dinking around with child support payments. Besides, by then I knew I had a Daddy God and Heavenly Husband that was more than able to provide for me! So I cut my ties with “T” and put my total dependence upon my God … best move ever!!
I can’t put my finger on exactly when I first started dreaming again – but I think it was while I was still seeing Counselor John (toward the end of my marriage) because I remember fearing these dreams marked the ‘opening of a door’ to past remembrances and I was terrified of being assaulted in my sleep by recollections of my childhood (and of things that took place while I was in a state of dissociation). I did want to have a better understanding of myself, of my past, and to be truthful about what happened – but if I could do that without remembering details, well that was A-OK with me! Again, Counselor John comforted me with the truth that if memories did come, that I didn’t have to be afraid of them – Jesus would walk through them with me, rather like the Good Shepherd walks through the valley of the Shadow of Death with (accompanying, comforting, and protecting) His sheep.
This first wave of dreams that I’ll write about is what I consider “veiled remembrances”.
THE LONG HOUSE
This dream evolved around a long barn-like structure located on the backside of an unknown property. Once inside and running the full length of the structure, there were a series of interconnected bedrooms – most having adjoining doors so that you could walk from one room to another down the full length of the structure. But there were a few rooms that had other, smaller rooms nested within them. These rooms you could only access from a specific bedroom. There was also a very long hallway running the length of the structure, but the hallway only accessed 2-3 bedrooms – most you had to access by going through another room. There was a time when I could tell you which room belonged to whom, but I have since forgotten. But I do recall that mine was a “nested room”, adjoining to my sister’s room. There was always lots of wandering from room to room in this dream; it wasn’t particularly frightening to me, but somewhat reminiscent of a game of hide and seek.
TRAP DOORS AND TUNNELS
Another sequence of dreams consists of two quasi-connected houses. The first house looked nothing like the house I remember growing up in, but I knew it represented ours. Somewhere in the house was a trap door and ladder that connected to underground tunnels and secret and connected bedrooms. It took me years of dreaming this dream before I could bring myself to open the trap door and go down more than 3-4 steps on that ladder – for I knew ‘darkness’ was down there. But as my heart and spirit was finding healing in the present day, in time I dared to go down further into that creepy underground tunnel. The first bedroom contained several bunk beds and I think I recognized it as belonging to my older siblings. But the farther into the cavern of connected bedrooms you went, the more confusion and evil those rooms emitted– some rooms I refused to enter altogether.
And as for that ‘connected’ house? Even in my dream state I was hyper vigilant to ensure the kitchen door that accessed the shared mudroom connecting the two houses remained securely locked at all times. Something evil lived in or came to visit from that house. I hated this dream!
One might ask ‘what triggered these dreams and veiled remembrances?’
Initially, I think it was the acknowledgement of my own abuse that (you can read more about that here) that opened the doorway for processing dreams and an increasing flow of fragmented memories (as experienced, internalized, remembered from the viewpoint of a very small child). Naturally, they don’t always make a lot of sense, but given my age at the time of the abuse – that seems perfectly reasonable to me. Once I understood that Jesus was present with me even in my veiled remembrances, I stopped fearing these dreams and just allowed my psyche to let go of what it needed to let go of – to process what it needed to process.
“I will not forget. I shall remember the works of the LORD, surely I will remember His wonders and of the miracles He performed on our behalf. He has brought us out and given us liberty as promised. Who is so great a God as my God!”
For those of you who have read along with me these past several months, thank you for listening! These writings have been surprisingly healing for me – or perhaps “enlightening” is a better word. I have never before given my testimony in chronological order, and it has been through the exercise of putting these snippets together in order that I’ve not only gained greater understanding of my past, but I am better able to see the presence of God in my life – my whole life – shielding me, comforting me, calling me, drawing me out, strengthening me, and liberating me!
“When your son asks you in time to come, saying ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statues, and the judgements which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore to our Fathers.” ~Deuteronomy 6:21-23
Do you suffer from nightmares or have trouble sleeping at night, either from fearful anticipation of dreams/remembrances or perhaps some form of insomnia? I’m sharing my story for YOU! I long to encourage you with the hope and good news of Jesus Christ; that HE is BIGGER than even your worst nightmare and that He has PROMISED in His unchangeable and unshakable Word to give you (His beloved) sweet sleep! It’s yours, and over the course of these next several blog posts I’m going to share with you how the Lord taught me to take hold of (appropriate) that promise of sweet sleep!
Here’s a simple (but lifechanging) practice you can start working on right now:
STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance.
You are not alone as the enemy would have you think. King Jesus is well able to transcend all space and time, and it is His deepest longing to be with you and comfort you as you process painful memories from the past, confront trials encountered in your present, and envelope you with His strength and protection as you walk with Him into your future.
When you put your head on your pillow at night, visualize Jesus sitting on the edge of your bed. Worship Him and talk with Him as pull up the covers – and hear His voice speaking back to you – His loving and peace-filled voice lulling you to a state of trusted relaxation. Surrender to His peace, knowing that He will never leave you, and that He has assigned angels to protect you while you sleep (not that they’re needed, because if HE is with you – aint no devil in hell gonna mess with you!). Quiet yourself, and listen for the sound of His heartbeat in the room. Then sleep, my friend. You are His beloved, and He longs for you to sleep in peace.
“…For He gives sleep to His beloved.” ~Psalm 127:2
Many years later, I had another dream – a singular dream – but it was very impactful. I perceive it as being a crescendo moment. But before I tell you about that rather complex dream, I need to tell you about my adult nightmares first.
Until my next post, may He overshadow you with His peace and protection, and grant you sweet sleep.
(Artwork updated 09/08/2018)
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.