I'm on a writing-roll and have been reflecting lately on my childhood. Something that recently returned to my memory is the fact that as I child there was a period during which I felt over-run with bad dreams. I don’t remember exactly what happened in my recurring nightmares, and I don’t remember how long they lasted, but I feel as though they haunted me for much of my early childhood. It seems I was plagued by the same three nightmares from age 5 to age 10. The falling dream. The Big Bad Wolf chasing me through the alley. And the dream where my mother is not my mother--she’s some woman who looks exactly like my mother and who everyone else believes is her.
What I do remember, though, is how I coped with the bad dreams: placing shoes at the foot of the bed to scare monsters and ghosts away, something I had read about or heard about somewhere; confronting the ugly wolf in the middle of one of the worst chase scenes; telling myself, “I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming…” until I woke up.
I wish I could put shoes at the foot of my bed to scare away the fear, the grief, the anxiety about things over which I have no control. I wish I were brave enough to confront the ugly wolves of my wakened reality--indecisiveness, self-doubt, circumstances at work, etc. And if all else failed, I wish I could, in the midst of the storm, just convince myself that I am only dreaming.
But what are the coping skills of reality that do work?
One thing I’ve been working on is strengthening my faith in God in a real and substantive way. After all, faith is passing through storms, confronting ugly demons, and seeing your circumstances for what they are but also, importantly, for what they can become. Faith is believing that God’s plan is for you to survive these “I wish this were just a bad dream” moments and to look back at them with a clearer understanding of His plan for you. It's the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
I'm interested to hear from others. What are your bad dreams? How do you confront the Big Bad Wolf?