Tag Archives: nightmares

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 41)

I love honesty … well, I mostly love honesty … sort of.    Let me rephrase that:  I really dislike being lied to (I’ve had plenty enough of that in my life), and therefore if given a choice, I would prefer honest information (even if unpleasant) over a misrepresentation of facts or worse yet, a flat out lie.   It’s a pretty good bet that you feel the same way too, right?

That’s why I’m so grateful that one of my readers (who is quickly becoming a precious friend) spoke honestly with me about her reaction to last week’s post.    Of course, I knew what I was intending to say in last week’s post, but when you’re limited to just the 26 characters of the English language (no facial expressions, no inflections of the voice, no reaching across the table to touch a hand) not everything written is heard the way you intended it to be heard.  Add to that the fact that we all hear information from the background of our own understanding (influenced by our history and experiences), and it’s totally understandable how she heard judgement in my words.  The kind of judgement that says ‘if you still struggle with this-that-the other, then you’re not a very good Christian’.

If that were the case, I’m not a very good Christian either!

Sadly, I think that’s how many of us approach FAITH. We have knowledge of and are in agreement with what the Bible says, but when it comes to putting our trust (either emotionally, spiritually, or physically) in what we say we know and believe … well, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t actually believe all that we say we believe. The Bible calls this “unbelief”..

Friends, I’ve experienced many victories during my walk with God, and it’s from lessons learned in the battle trenches warring for those victories that I tend to write. But believe you me … I’m no superwoman Christian.   I still have nightmares from time to time, and like every body else on the planet, I’ve still got junk in the trunk.  I wish I didn’t, and I try to keep it minimal, but I’ve reconciled to the fact that this side of heaven, I’m gonna have junk.

"Of Dreams and Nightmares"  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Of Dreams and Nightmares” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

Oh, and lets not forget about “unbelief”.  Yup, I’ve got that too.   Just yesterday, I caught myself wanting to tell the Lord how alone I felt in a certain challenge I’m dealing with.  How I feared that maybe I’d misheard Him (or just acted on my own wisdom instead of listening to the voice of Wisdom) and had instead taken a long walk off a short pier.  That instead of walking boldly in faith, I felt the hesitation in my steps, as though I was anticipating the whoosh of kerplop at any moment.

Does all this truthfulness change the way God thinks of me?  Is He surprised by my “junk” and “unbelief”?   Does it disqualify me? Does your junk disqualify you?

Nope!

I’m not a Bible scholar and I don’t claim to be a teacher, so if what I’m about to say offends you or your belief about who God is and what He expects from those who would claim to Christ-followers, then please just let it go in one ear and out the other.  This is just my own personal conviction, born out of many long walks and talks with Jesus, and what I understand from Scripture.

I don’t believe God is all that terribly surprised that I’ve got junk in the trunk.  Still.  Even after all these years of walking with Him, I’m still hauling around a big old trunk of junk.

And unbelief?  Well, there was a time when I used to get hung up on the fact that I didn’t have everything all figured out … that my mountaintop experiences didn’t last forever, and that sooner or later I’d once again be dragging my feet down in some nasty old valley again, wondering where God was and why He hasn’t rescued me yet.  Maybe it’s maturity.  Maybe it’s just fatigue.  But now, when I’m feeling “wobbly” of spirit (wrestling with fear, doubt, and unbelief), I no longer worry about how much I’m disappointing God by not being the Super Christian that I wish I were (or that religion says I ought to be).  Instead, I imagine myself as a small child needing to crawl up on Daddy’s lap and be reminded again how “big and strong He is”, how “un-wavering His love”, how “faithful His Word”.  And like any Good Daddy, He doesn’t chide me for temporarily forgetting all those things … He simply re-affirms His Character as revealed in His Word, and reminds me that my identity is rooted in Him, as His Beloved.

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
~God of the Hills and Valleys, Tauren Wells

That’s what happened yesterday.  I was tempted to give in to the voice of fear and doubt.  I was tempted to speak failure over my circumstance.  I was tempted … but thankfully I caught myself and instead I opened my mouth and spoke of His faithfulness to me over the years.  I reminded myself of His Promises to me, and that He has never once left me uncovered or in need.  I sang a worship song and praised Him for who He is.

And while the heavens didn’t part, nor did chocolate dollar bills fall from the sky, I did experience (once again) that my confidence in God (faith) overruled my confidence in the enemy (fear), and peace returned.

So if you’ve somehow gotten the impression that just because I blog about my faith, and a few people read what I write, that I am soon to be on the cover of Church-Lady Magazine …. sorry to disappoint!

I’m just a broken vessel, restored but still with a few dings and scratches (they add “character”),  sharing from my own spiritual journey of faith.

If you’re ok with that, come on back next week.  I’ve sketch out out a new piece and I can hardly wait to show it to you.

 

PS-in case you’re wondering, the Lord asked my friend to consider all that she’d read in my blog posts to date, and what she knew of me from our one-on-one conversations, and compare that to what the enemy was whispering in her ear. She had resolved the discrepancy on her own before we met up for coffee last week, but it was lovely to be able to talk it through face-to-face (and heart-to-heart). God also used it as a teaching opportunity for me, reminding me that as the blog has gained in popularity (PRAISE GOD!) I am now writing primarily to people who don’t know me and therefore I must be more thoughtful about my choice of wording so that His Character is upheld in my writings.

 

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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.

 

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 40)

There is a big difference between knowing and believing. One only has to look up to KNOW that planes can fly, but that does not mean that everyone BELIEVES the plane would fly with them in it! That’s exactly how I feel about bungie jumping or skydiving – I have knowledge of and am in agreement with the science behind it, and I am aware that millions have successfully done it following those rules of science … but you are never gonna catch me purposefully jumping out of a plane or leaping off a bridge. Nope!! Not gonna happen!

Sadly, I think that’s how many of us approach FAITH. We have knowledge of and are in agreement with what the Bible says, but when it comes to putting our trust (either emotionally, spiritually, or physically) in what we say we know and believe … well, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t actually believe all that we say we believe. The Bible calls this “unbelief”, and if you are breathing today, you wrestle with unbelief just like I do.

It’s the knife-in-the-gut feeling when the doctor and says
“I need you to schedule an appointment to see me”.
(The Bible says I’m healed by His stripes but the doc says otherwise)

It’s the sweat on the brow when you’ve got more bills
at the end of the month than money to pay them.
(The Bible says He has provided for your every need
but your checkbook tells another story)

It’s the anxiety that sweeps over you at night, keeps you tossing and turning,
perhaps even manifests in your dreams.
(The Bible says He gives sweet sleep to those He loves
but yours is troubled or nonexistent)

“Unbelief puts our circumstance between us and God, but faith puts God between us and our circumstances.”
F.B. Meyer

 

UNBELIEF often lives in the space between FACT and TRUTH.

The Fact:
I have $7.02 dollars in my checking account
The Truth:
My God has supplied all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus! Because I’m a faithful tither, God has opened the windows of heaven for me and has poured out so much blessing upon me that I can’t contain it. He has also rebuked the devourer so that every seed I’ve sown through the work of my hands, or by charitable giving and good works is protected and guaranteed to produce bountifully. My work is blessed and my finances are growing. I have no fear for what tomorrow may bring, for my God has made a covenant promise to provide for me. I thank Him now for all that He is doing behind the scenes that I can’t see from my limited perspective. He is faithful, my hope is in Him, and (Bible) Hope does not disappoint.

It’s been probably 12-15 years since Pastor Deryck gave me the battle plan to “pray, worship, and speak the Name of Jesus” before going to bed at night to confront the enemy who was attacking me in my sleep. But that was just the beginning and over time, the Lord added more tools (greater wisdom with understanding) to my arsenal and I became a more skilled warrior against the adversary of my soul. Not only for deliverance from dreams and nightmares, but in gaining victory over a life-long battle with fear.

The 5 steps described in my last post (Week 39) can really be applied to any challenge, any situation, any confrontation between Fact-and-Truth. Here’s a few additional insights gained from the battle field experience:

1) It requires diligence and effort on your part to weed out Unbelief and let FAITH (confident trust and expectation in the Word/Promises of God) over-write your human tendencies to doubt the integrity of God’s Word … which is what gives place to fear.

2) Fear and FAITH can not abide in the same place (spirit) – one is going to over-rule the other, and you get to choose which one stays and which one goes.

“Faith comes by hearing (and hearing and hearing and hearing) the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

3) The process for increasing FAITH is immersion in the Word of God. Read it (often and preferably out loud, so that you can take it into your spirit via both the eye-gate and ear-gate), memorize Scripture applicable to your situation, and consume so much Word that it begins to take over your thought life and speech.

“First, read the Word of God. Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you. Third, believe the Word of God. Fourth, act on the Word of God.” ~Smith Wigglesworth

4) Sooner or later, God’s Word is going to challenge what you believe to be true (or perhaps what you want to believe is truth). That’s when you are going to have to make a decision. Just like there is a big difference between knowing-vs-believing, there is a big difference between Fact-and-Truth. God is not changing His mind, nor is He changing His Word. So … are you going to continue to hold to what you think or want to be true, or will you surrender your will and make the decision to believe (trust in, rely on) what God says about it?

So now let me tell you a little about the artwork. Kenneth E Hagin once recounted a story told to him by Smith Wigglesworth, which I have since found memorialized online.

Wigglesworth knew the devil and treated him for what he was…defeated. Smith shares a story of an encounter with the advisory:

“We were sleeping one night, when the manifestation of evil filled the room and the spirit of fear gripped both of us. Polly was so frightened she could not open her eyes. I suddenly sat up, in the bed, and saw the devil. I rubbed my eyes to be sure, it was him. I said, ‘Oh! It’s only you.’ I then turned to Polly and told her to go back to sleep, it was nothing of consequence, and I laid my head back down. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of peace and love filled the room and we had the most blessed sleep ever.”

That really made an impression on me, and I told the Lord “I would like to get to that point, where I can wake up and tell the devil, ‘Oh, It’s just you.’ and roll back over and go to sleep.”

Friend, lest you have a misconception – victory didn’t come overnight.

When I first began implementing Pastor Deryck’s instructions, and once I finally managed to wake and shake free from my nightmare – I would fly out of bed, flip on the lights, and walk around my bedroom (sometimes the entire house) praying in tongues and casting out every devil and demon spirit I could think of or imagine. Sometimes I carried on for 5 minutes … sometimes 25 minutes before I felt secure enough (in mind and spirit) to return to bed. I bet our cats thought I was quite a sight to see.

Over time, the dream came less frequently, but it still came.

It was a thrill for me when I didn’t feel the need to jolt out of bed to take authority over my home. Under cover of warm blankets, I commanded the enemy to get lost and called on Daddy-God to dispatch His biggest and fiercest warriors to stand guard around (above and beneath) me and my girls the rest of the night. Or more truthfully, I requisitioned the “Big-Ass Angels”.   Ain’t nobody gonna wanna mess with them!!

The dream came less frequently, but it still came from time to time.

“One day a pet dog followed a lady out of her house and ran all around her feet. She said to the dog…’I cannot have you with me today.’ The dog wagged its tail and made a big fuss. She said, ‘ go home, my dear.’ But the dog did not go. At last she shouted roughly, ‘ go home,’ and off it went. Some people deal with the devil like that. The devil can stand all the comfort you like to give him. Get firm, cast him out! You are not dealing with a person; you are dealing with the devil…(he) must be dislodged in the name of the Lord.” ~Smith Wigglesworth

The real victory came when I noticed the feeling of being in a drug-induced fog was losing its grip on me and that I was waking up easier and sooner in the dream. After reminding myself that my Jesus was with me, and I’d imagine Him sitting on the end of my bed – watching over me – and back to sleep I’d go.

"Of Dreams and Nightmares"  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Of Dreams and Nightmares” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

This is what I wanted to capture in the artwork, and I’m really pleased with the piece. The devil lost the battle when I’d grown strong enough in my faith (trust in God) that while still half-asleep I’d lift one arm up in the air and mumble out the Name “Jeee-sus”… then roll right over and be back asleep in no time flat!!

Smith Wigglesworth: “Oh, It’s only you.”

Friend, wherever you are on your journey of faith, know this. “You are more than a conquerer through Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:31-39). May these words encourage your heart and embolden your spirit so that you may take of the victory that has been assigned to you!

Source: https://www.canecreekchurch.org/what-s-your-legacy/44-smith-wigglesworth

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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.

 

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 39)

This is a continuation of my testimony which I began writing at Week 20, but more narrowly focused on my decades-long history with recurring dreams and nightmares. I’ve written of them before over the years, and shared how the Lord (through the counsel of my Pastor) instructed me to take authority over them. But never as part of my chronological testimony, nor as detailed as I have within the blog categories “My Story” and “Of Dreams and Nightmares”.

In my last post, I shared the nightmare that plagued me in my adult years (early 30’s through early 50’s). It began after the death of my abusive broken father, and a few years after my divorce finalized from “T”, an abusive sociopath to whom I was married for just under 10 years.

(Hmm. It just doesn’t sit well with me to label my dad as “abusive father” in this post, and yet I have no qualms about labeling “T” as abusive. I wonder why that is? Of course what he did to his daughters was abusive! But I now realize it was brokenness that drove him to violate our innocence. He repented, and aside from incest, he was a good dad. OMgosh-that sounds so crazy to write down!! Like saying: “OK Suzie, aside from losing your left arm, right leg, and both eyeballs, you’re just fine. Go out and live a happy and successful life.” But he was a good dad in many ways; he taught me fish, and drive. He taught me how to problem solve and surely my mechanical aptitude is from his influence. He worked hard to provide for his family, and rarely complained of the hardships of his life. I hate what my dad did to his daughters, but I love my dad. And I miss him. It comforts me to know that because he accepted Jesus as Lord, I’ll see him in heaven one day – restored to wholeness, emotionally and spiritually.

I have similar feelings about my mom. In a recent “Morning Sip” post I briefly mentioned the first time she disowned me as her daughter. It soon after I left “T”, and she had come to stay with me for a few weeks while we (my daughters and I) got settled into an apartment. I returned home from work one day, and my oldest daughter (7 years old) was terribly upset. When I asked what was the matter, she told me “Grandma told her not to cry in front of me, because it upset me.” We all walked on eggshells in my house growing up, because mom’s anger was fierce, and she did not like being crossed! But I didn’t want that for my girls, I wanted to protect them – not have them protect me! So as politely as I could, I explained to my mom that in this/my house, it was OK to cry. And then we had a heart to heart – she and I. I specifically remember laying my head on her lap, her stroking my hair, and I told her how alone I felt at certain times growing up. It seemed a precious mother-daughter connection. Two days later announced she was cutting her stay short because of a migraine. About a week later, I received a hand written card disowning me as her daughter. It was the first of 3 times she disowned me … then I stopped counting. The point is, that my daughters never knew their grandma – she threw me and them out like dirty old bathwater, and died never knowing how awesome they are, what incredible women of God they are, how they carry her strength and fortitude but without her brokenness. She was saved, but she still had a lot of brokenness in her life, with increasing complications of dementia in her later years. Like with my dad, I’m comforted to know that when I see her again in heaven, she will have cast off her brokenness and be the woman that God originally created her to be.

“Faith will not work with an unforgiving heart.” ~Gloria Copeland

“T” on the other hand … well, he was (probably still is) abusive and his behavior was very intentional, even methodical, and long term. And unlike my father when confronted in the hospital, “T” never repented. Never. Even when it cost him relationship with his children (and ultimately grandchildren), he still refused to acknowledge and own up to the destructiveness of his behavior. Unless the Lord gives him a heart transplant, he will most likely die never really knowing a good portion of his own children and grandchildren. Praise God that I’ve been able to forgive “T” for all he has done. I don’t like him, and certainly want nothing to do with him anymore … but I’ve forgiven him and have turned him over to the Lord for judgement. Please say a prayer for him – he is a lost soul headed for hell.)

Whoops – sorry about that spaghetti trail folks. Where was I?

Oh yea, the dream … THE dream. The visitor in the night dream. The very real physical feelings of being violated in my sleep dream. The dream that had its own “Siren Song”, seducing me to stay a while longer.

There were some aspects of The Dream that were initially pleasurable (if you get my drift), and I mentioned this once to Terri. She was the Worship Leader’s wife and survivor of long-term sexual abuse as a teen and young woman. Blushingly I said something along the lines of “everybody has dreams like this.” She looked at me like I had suddenly grown three heads … “No. No, they don’t,” she replied. A few weeks later, I was encircled by some mighty prayer warriors who laid hands on me and warred on my behalf. Not only were demonic spiritual ties broken off me, but they prophesied over me of my new identity in Christ Jesus. I began to understand that I didn’t have to be victim to the harassment of the enemy anymore – that Christ had already won the battle for me and what I needed to do was to learn to stand IN that victory. And as Bible-Truth began to take hold in my heart and spirit, my mind began to “defragment” and a new Operating System” was downloaded. I was learning to walk victoriously in my new Identity and in doing so, The Dream ceased to have power over me and soon thereafter stopped visiting me.

“It’s important to base your faith on what the Word says about any situation. Living by faith is a way of life for the believer. So begin to feed your inner man with the Word of God until he/she becomes strong.” ~Kenneth Copeland

But as I’ve said before – the devil hates losing territory. That is why we must remain alert, for the devil is a sneaky cuss!

Like a fisherman changes tactics when the fish aren’t striking on one bait, the devil will change tactics and come at you a different way when from time to time. And like any true Angler, the devil will also periodically shuffle through his tackle box of tactics to see if any of the old baits will now work in a new season of your life. The good news is that the devil is a defeated foe and while we may be inclined by our fallen nature “take the bait” from time to time, Jesus Christ has removed all the hooks from his lures! We are only held captive if we keep our mouth closed over the bait … but if we will open our mouths and profess our victory in the Name of Jesus Christ, the devil is utterly powerless to prevent our escape!!

Amen! (I really like that analogy!!)

Another spaghetti trail … can you tell I’ve been fishing this summer?!?!?? 😊

Several years later, and after moving across country, I began experiencing The Dream again. I was still a single parent, and except for my church family (spiritual moms, dads, sisters and brothers), I’d lost relationship with most of my own family due to my mom’s brokenness and false accusations she made against me. Anyways, as my girls hit their teens they did some teen stuff. It was a rough season for a lot of reasons, and at a very tired and vulnerable place in my life, The Dream returned.

“Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” ~1 Peter 5:8 (GNT)

I can’t tell you how disturbing this was to me! I’d experienced victory over The Dream for several years, and yet here it was again! And this time, it seemed even more demonic because it held me captive in a type of foggy “in-betweenness” (suspended between sleep and wakefulness) while continuing to violate me … and I felt utterly helpless to do anything about it!! Eventually, I called my Pastor, who gave me the counsel that flipped the game and in time put the enemy on the run!

STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance
STEP 2: Download a Superior Operating System
STEP 3: Prepare – prepare for battle

  • Put on your armor  (actually, put on HIS armor – it works every time!)
  • Guard your eyes, ears and thoughts
  • Open your mouth and speak God’s Word over your life/situation/circumstances (almost guaranteed I’m going to write about this in an upcoming post :))
  • Feed your Spirit (this too! :))
Of Dreams and Nightmares (preview2)  www.puttinghopetowork.com
Of Dreams and Nightmares (preview2) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

STEP 4: Position – position yourself for the greatest advantage over the enemy

  • Pray before going to bed  (hope-filled, expectant prayers of faith that God will guard and protect you in your sleep)
  • Worship, Worship, Worship  (worshipping ushers in the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, the enemy will flee!!)
  • Speak the Name of Jesus (even demons fear His Name!)
  • When weary, ADP! (Apply Direct Pressure!)

STEP 5:  Punch – when the enemy draws near you, you’ve got to ball up your fist, and PUNCH-HIM-OUT!

  • Stir up your faith and TROUBLE the one who is troubling you!  Really hit him where it hurts by quoting Scripture to him and calling on your Daddy-God to strengthen you.  Rebuke that old devil and command he leave in Jesus Name … and He will!!  Not because you’re oh so mighty and powerful – but because your Daddy-God is giving the him the evil-eye (because you called on Him as your defender, and because you trust in Him to be faithful to His Word to do so! ), and there ain’t no devil in hell that wants to lock horns with your Daddy!!  (he’s already done that, and is still whimpering about it!)
  • Personally, I like to meditate on the verses where the devil gets his teeth knocked clear out of his face!!  (Psalm 3:7, Psalm 58:6)   🙂

Reference posts for Steps 3-5: The Nightmare and the Warrior (5 post series), Staying Positive in Difficult Times, 911 (Part 2) When the Enemy is at the Door, Battle Weary? ADP!

I hope you’ll take a few moments to read the posts referenced for greater insight (maybe a little humor too).

In my next post I’ll reveal the completed artwork and wrap up this series. It’s a good ending, I promise!!

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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.

 

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 38)

My grandpa served in WW1, my dad in WW2, brothers and cousins in the Vietnam War and Cold War, cousins and nephews in the Gulf War and many campaigns on the War on Terrorism. Thank God, all returned home from their service, but not all returned home unscathed.

Firstly, for those reading who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces or as First responders, or family members of those who have served –thank you for your service! Your sacrifice to make America and the world a safer place is deeply appreciated.

A beloved nephew has wrestled with PTSD since his return home. Flashbacks and nightmares have haunted him. I may not completely understand his trauma and pain, but I can relate to it.

I have friends who for other reason are almost terrified to go to sleep at night for fear of what they might dream; and that anxiety makes it near impossible for them to fall asleep in the first place – let alone sleep restfully and peacefully when sheer exhaustion overtakes them.

I’ve had seasons of my life when I feared going to sleep at night – afraid of what I might dream or worse still, remember. I think this is one of the cruelest schemes of the enemy … the stealing of our sleep. And since he steals while we are in a diminished state of consciousness, we are powerless to do anything about it. Or that’s what I used to think. (More about that in the next post … probably the next post).

Right now, I’m reading Mark Batterson’s book “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day (How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars)”. I’m only a few chapters in because I am finding so many nuggets of truth and wisdom that I want to chew on each one a while before moving to the next chapter, lest I overlook the very truth that I need to overcome the lions facing me today. Chapter 4 is entitled “Unlearning Your Fears” and it perfectly complements what the Lord put on my heart for this post.

If you’ll recall, at the beginning of this series (Of Dreams and Nightmares), I described two of my recurring dreams as “processing dreams” and “veiled remembrances”. By the time I was dreaming those dreams, I’d already been equipped with enough Scripture by Counselor John to know and trust that if Jesus allowed me to remember something, He would be there with me in the remembrance to help me deal with it. (Isaiah 43:1-3,13; Isaiah 54:4,14,17; Psalm 91; Philippians 1:28; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 Timothy 1:7). So even though I had some anxiety about the possibility of remembering something terrible that I didn’t really want to remember, I also wanted to know the truth about my past and understood that some of that truth might come by allowing my psyche to release fragmented memories of things that happened decades ago. With that understanding, I tried to embrace the process of remembering/processing, and I was able to lay my head down on the pillow at night and sleep because I had greater confidence in Jesus’s love for me than I had in any dream to derail my sanity (which was of course the taunt of the enemy – that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the truth or the lie he served up masquerading as the truth).

Of Dreams and Nightmares, partial reveal www.puttinghopetowork.com
Of Dreams and Nightmares, partial reveal

But there is more to the healing process just remembering, because if remembering alone brought healing then why would so many people need medication (physician or self-prescribed) to help deal with nightmares and night terrors, PTSD, panic attacks? Remembering nightmares would actually be a good thing, because those nightmares with their fragmented and sometimes veiled menories would be the process to healing, right?

“Almost like a hard drive with a computer virus, our minds have infected files. Irrational fears and misconceptions keep us from operating the way we were designed to. And if those fears and misconceptions aren’t uninstalled, they undermine everything we do.

Half of learning is learning. The other half of learning is unlearning. Unfortunately, unlearning is twice as hard as learning. … Unlearning is twice as hard, and it often takes twice as long. It is harder to get old thoughts out of your mind than it is to get new thoughts into your mind.”

~Mark Batterson, In A Pit With A Lion On A Stormy Day

Com’mon … that makes no sense whatsoever!

Remembering in and of itself does not bring healing. Remembering alone often feels like we are reliving the moment over and over again, it induces fear and terror and heightened anxiety.

No, my friend. It’s the remembering and processing while being overshadowed in the knowledge of how deeply we are loved by God that brings healing … for it is only by the power of His love that we can un-learn the fear that is tethered to those memories and allow faith in Jesus to over-write our memories and re-write our stories!

“Half of spiritual growth is learning what we don’t know. The other half is unlearning what we do know. And it is the failure to unlearn irrational fears and misconceptions that keeps us from becoming who God wants us to be.

The invalid in John 5 is a great example of the importance of unlearning. He had been crippled for thirty-eight years when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. But the man believed here was only one way to be healed:

“I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

This man made an assumption that may have cost him thirty-eight years! He had only one category for healing. … In a sense, he was imprisoned by what he knew. But Jesus uninstalled that mistaken belief with one sentence: “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!”

Now, here is what you need to see. Jesus didn’t just set this man free physically. He set him free cognitively. Faith is unlearning the senseless worries and misguided believes that keep us captive. It is far more complex than simply modifying behavior. Faith involves synaptogenesis. Faith is rewiring the human brain.”

~Mark Batterson, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Mark goes on to explain that just like a computer’s memory periodically needs to be defragmented, our computer-like minds also need to be defragmented. And the way to do that is to upgrade the Operating Systems of our minds by downloading Scripture into our minds and spirits. Because when we read and meditate on Scripture (the Words and unshakeable Promises of God recorded for us), we are recruiting new nerve cells and rewiring neuronal connections. In short, “we stop thinking human thoughts and start thinking God’s thoughts!”

I’m really holding myself back folks – I’m tempted to quote the entire contents of Chapter 3 for you, it’s that good! But hopefully by now you get the gist.

STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance.
STEP 2: Download a Superior Operating System
If we want to overcome the torment of dreams and nightmares, be it the result of PTSD or some other condition or experience, then we must (a) defragment our minds from the corrupt material that is playing/replaying in our heads (during waking or sleeping hours) and (b) download a Superior Operating System to overwrite fear altogether! And that superior SOS is the Word of God!

And with that, I’ll pause and allow you to chew on all this … maybe even go out and buy yourself a copy of In A Pit With A Lion On A Story Day 😊 and read it before my next post and the continuation of my story.

As always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts and reactions to this post – please drop me a comment below. Praying sweet sleep over you, with a calm and defragmented mind renewed daily by the Power of His Word living in you.

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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.

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 37)

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.'” (Psalm 55:4-8)

I wonder if the Psalmist was writing about things that were happening during his waking hours, or if he was writing about the terrors that come at night. Perhaps both, probably both. I’m certain the Psalmist had seen enough violence to be at least occasionally harassed in his sleep by nightmares.

The Mayo Clinic describes Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as “a mental condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
Intrusive memories
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Avoidance
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Feeling detached from family and friends
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
Being easily startled or frightened
Always being on guard for danger
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
Trouble sleeping
Trouble concentrating
Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:
Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event

I have had recurring nightmares of one sort or another for most of my life. As a child, I had recurring dreams about a stick-figure man who came to my bed at night, and also dreams of my father jumping off a train to his death or accidentally falling and dying of a head wound. Not exactly normal dreams for a 8-9 year old!

When in my mid-late 20’s (after the death of my father), I began having a series of recurring dreams that were about “familiar but unrecognizable” places … places with labyrinths of interconnecting bedrooms, bedrooms where evil lived. I didn’t dream them every night – and often there would be gaps of weeks or even months between them. At first, I blamed them on yesterday’s dinner. But over time, I began to realize that I was dreaming of the same places over and over and over again. The places portrayed in them so familiar to me that I knew them almost as well as I knew my own home. I would frequently think to myself within the dream, or even say upon waking … “I’ve been there before.” And yet I knew of no places like these, so no – I’d never been there. They were just dreams, right?

IMG_20180908_143042064_HDR.jpg

In my 30’s (after finally divorcing my abusive 2nd husband (“T”), determined by the Courts to be a sociopath) I began having recurring dreams of someone/something visiting me at night, using my body for its pleasure. These dreams were particularly disturbing for me on a couple of fronts:

  1. Because they felt like “present day” experiences, meaning these did not feel like veiled remembrances of something from my past, but rather like I was being visited and violated now
  2. Because they were very difficult to wake up from, and therefore they seemed to continue well past the point when you’re awake enough to know that you’re dreaming, but not awake enough to get out of the dream. So there I would remain, in the dream, trying desperately to wake myself from the dream, so that I could open my eyes and confirm that it was only a dream.

In my last post, I mentioned moving with my daughters about an hour’s distance from “T”. In that beautiful coastal community, we found a fantastic church and we began to thrive.

One Sunday, the Pastor Daniel told of two sisters he met doing some missions work overseas. He described how one had been repeatedly violated by a family member, while the other sister (thought to be sleeping) was in the room and therefore a witness to her siblings abuse. Oh the torment of soul she carried, and Pastor noted that one doesn’t have to be the physical victim in order to be abused. As he shared that story, something within me began to violently shake and quake. I found it near impossible to breath, and before he finished I had practically ran out of the sanctuary – barely able to contain myself. “Is that what happened Lord?”, I asked. “Is that what was so upsetting to me at age 3?”

Fly Away
“Fly Away” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

It is an established truth that my sisters were abused (my dad didn’t deny it, and my sisters had full recollection of it). That they had memories and I didn’t made me somehow feel like I was “a poser” to say I’d been abused too. Hearing Pastor Daniel retell the experience of these two sisters, and my reaction to it, finally gave me courage to say “Yes, it happened to me too, I was abused too.”

I still had questions, for I still had very few memories of my childhood due to dissociative amnesia, but it was another step on the journey to truthfulness.

Thankfully the majority of people don’t have PTSD, recurring nightmares, or other symptoms common to trauma or abuse. But we ALL experience fear. And it is of FEAR, and the power of FEAR that I will write in my next post.

Until then, may the King of Peace overshadow you with His righteous right hand, and grant you sweet sleep.

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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.