Writing, for me, has been a hobby that I have always hoped would reach some hearts along the way. But recently the work by which I make a living has eclipsed my desire and the focus it takes to just sit down and start typing – at least during these last seven months.
It seems appropriate, however, to “force” myself to engage in my hobby even though my work is still quite consuming – for this, the last print edition of a newspaper which has helped me find my voice.
On Saturday night just before succumbing to sweet slumber I did something I have never done previously: I asked God to speak to me in my dreams. He answered. Since childhood my biggest nightmare was running away, helplessly, from a giant wave. I end up running in place on the shore – never escaping but never being consumed either. Yet there was always crippling fear.
The recent dream involved the ocean and waves but the “picture” was completely different. I was swimming in the waves with some other people; and every so often the ocean would change directions and crash onto the opposite shore. Just before this reversal, the swells got enormous. Everyone was bobbing about but no one got hurt, including me. Then right before the last change of direction – before I woke up anyway – the sea parted like in the movie, “The Ten Commandments.” I’m not sure if I walked through it or not, but I did end up on the other side, safe and sound.
Upon waking, I told my husband Stuart the entire dream and not surprisingly, he saw the meaning and significance even before I did. As I recounted this to our precious church “members” at the Bent Mountain Bistro, I summed up the dream’s meaning for me: it seemed God was saying, “Be not afraid.”
What’s ironic is that my very first published column was entitled “Do One Thing Every Day that Scares You.” I have done things all my life that have scared me: I played on an all-boys’ flag football team, showed cattle, jumped out of airplanes, paddled some fairly intense whitewater, attempted caving maneuvers to conquer my claustrophobia (ha!), jumped over crevasses in Switzerland and rock climbed in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. But what does it all matter? My fear was of getting hurt physically – which, with some effort, I generally managed to overcome.
But my far bigger fear – and I know I’m not alone in this – has been of being hurt emotionally. And oh how we sabotage ourselves and those we love most in the interest of our own self protection. I am reminded of a quote by C.S. Lewis: “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
This, my friends, may be scariest thing we can do every day: To Love. Fiercely, unconditionally, with “reckless” abandon and in the light of TRUTH – not the “protecting” lies we tell ourselves.
My oldest daughter Ellie sent me an article a while back from the Harvard Business Review entitled: “To Change the World, Fear Means Go,” which likens fear to a “compass,” pointing you in the direction you should go. Which relates to something else Stuart said this morning, “Fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom – fear as in awe / reverence / the knowledge that you are nothing apart from Him – but it is not the end . . . The end is Love, Obedience and Truth – each informing the other that the Spirit may fully rule the heart and His Peace given its final reign . . .”
So GO – and love. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; love your neighbor as yourself; and yes, love yourself as your neighbor. And if you are struggling with any or all of these like I have, there is only one thing to do: invite Him in. Yes, intentionally and fully – invite Him in.
He may not come as you expect Him to – but He will come. “In the boredom and pain of your life,” as Frederick Buechner says, “as well as in the excitement and gladness of it.”
Even in your dreams.