Certain scary movies…mess me up. I can deal with ghosts and witches and all of that, but there’s one thing that makes me cringe and run if I even glance at it. I can’t handle watching people dying slow, painful deaths. Like being burned alive, or being eaten by an animal. Just the thought of it makes me…*breathes in deeply and exhales extremely slow*. I can’t. But those kinds of movies I can avoid, because I’m pretty sure when I see the title of the movie or start watching some of the beginning scenes which ones are going to traumatize me. The thing I hate the most are the dreams I can’t control. The dreams that keep coming back, sometimes every week. These dreams don’t necessarily have to be bad ones, just ones that seem very really. My brother and I were talking through this a couple of days ago, and he was sharing some facts with me about dreams. While he was talking, he brought up an interesting point. When we’re awake, we know that we can do anything in a dream, but when we’re dreaming we have no knowledge of that. We have no idea that we can do absolutely ANYTHING we want. Sometimes we can learn how to wake ourselves up, but that’s about as far as it goes. For me, I have tactfully learned the art of this. If a monster is chasing me through a hallway, I can wake myself up before it gets to me. I have even called on the name of Jesus in a dream, and it woke me up immediately. I have gotten to the point where those kinds of dreams don’t affect me that much anymore, and I think it’s because in the back of my mind, I have knowledge that God would never actually let something hurt me. No, it’s not a ghost that haunts me or vicious dog’s veneers that send chills down my spine. It’s not being stuck in place unable to run. It’s memories of the past.
It started a couple of months back with a habit I brought back to life. My habit may seem like nothing out of the ordinary to you, because I’m pretty sure we all do this, but for me it’s kind of unhealthy. I keep my apple device next to me when I sleep, and I check social media before I go to bed. Let me explain why this is so bad. My mind works on 4 different levels. Happy, sad, angry, and functional (functional meaning practical and operative). Lately, I’ve been in a sort of “messed up” mood because of some things that had happened, so I guess you could say my mind was functional (a whatever, nonchalant attitude). When I’m just barely hanging on, the worst thing I can do is skim through social media before I go to bed. I can even go into how many times I’ve seen something posted that has messed up my entire flow. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I’m on a lot of the different platforms, but I can’t handle the rush of emotions that come just before I switch off for the day. So here it goes: I start getting back into that habit, scrolling through the lives of my friends to make me feel like I’m actually there. I make the crucial mistake of going through the new “memory” section on Facebook and, I see something that, to be perfectly honest, stabs me in the heart. I can’t take the overwhelming nostalgia in that moment, so I quickly click out of it. I know I could just delete the memory forever, but I just don’t want to. And it’s not like I can delete the memory from my mind, so it feels pointless to me. At that point, I just want to go to sleep, but I know myself. Think of something else, I tell myself, hamburgers, country music, heaven, blue jeans. But my thoughts are wandering around that memory now, and the second I close my eyes…
It’s not long before I wake, and I’m sitting up in my bed, staring out the window. I feel stupid for thinking it could be real. How could it possibly be real? But it felt…every touch, every smile, every bit of laughter. It’s a cruel, cruel trick to play on the heart. I grab my Bible that’s also right next to my bed, because that’s what I always do in these situations. I read over a Psalm to bring me back to calm. Then I lay awake on the bed, wondering if I should try to get some more sleep, or just get up and call it daylight. I get kind of restless laying there, so I decide to get up and make a mug of green tea (my favorite). At this point, the dream is but a dull memory, but I still feel the pain of it as I think of the blurred images. I don’t cry, I just sit on the recliner, as the pretty shade of dawn starts to show in the sky. I wonder if this is life from now on, and I pray that it isn’t. I’m making significant progress in forgiving myself and others, there’s no need to be reminded of who I was. Who would’ve thought that instead of a sasquatch, the monster would be me. I’m chasing myself down with these “could have beens” when there’s nothing I can do to change what’s fact.
I don’t know if you guys have experienced anything like this, but it’s a very, scary thing. When you want so badly to go back, and you think you’re there, only to realize you’re not. I deal with this on a weekly basis and the only comfort I find is in the word of God. It does something to me on the inside that nothing else can do. It comforts me with words of encouragement when I feel like the biggest failure in the world. It takes away most of the sting from what I can’t change. It says in Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 4, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Nothing seems more true to me than that. I feel very clean on the inside when I read the word, there’s no other way to describe it. And if you’re in a place right now, where you feel like a loser, and you can’t control what you dream about, I would like to encourage with this: God didn’t put any of us here to live like that. Events take place that change the course of our life. What was once a fragile life can be turned into a hard, bitter, and confused one. But you have to rise above it. Don’t let it get the best of you. I always say, open up the word and read what God says about you. Quote it back to yourself. Life goes on from here and there’s so much more to learn, you don’t want to miss it all because you’re festering over the past. Over the “should have beens”.
There was a 41-year old South African woman who I read about in an article recently. She had many aspirations as a young girl, including wanting to be a dancer. But all of that was halted by a startling and unfortunate situation. At 15 years of age, she watched her mother shoot and kill her alcoholic father in self-defense. Her mother faced no charges. Images like that, of course, stain your brain for the rest of your life. How can you forget something so painful. Following that, she started going to school, but she had great difficulty staying on track like the rest of the kinds. She ended up changing schools to one that was more suitable for her. She trained to become a dancer like she’d always wanted, but suffered a major injury in her knee and had to give it up. Struggling, she called on her mother for advice, who encouraged her to figure out what else she wanted to do, or come back home to South Africa. She didn’t want to give up, but she was living in a small basement apartment owned by her friend. So she moved to L.A. shortly after that (I can only imagine what a huge adjustment that was for her). Her mother her sent money by check so she could pay the rent, but there was a mishap in cashing the check one day. The woman was furious, insisting that the teller try it again. While arguing with him, she was approached by a talent agent, who instantly gave her his card and told her to call him. As things led on from there, she ended up making a big name for herself, and became one of the most respected actresses in Hollywood. She has won 2 Academy Awards for Best Actress and 2 British Academy Awards for Best Actress In A Leading Role along with a roll-out list of other accolades. Her name is Charlize Theron.
Even as we wake in the middle of the night, thinking of endings we might’ve done differently, God is only thinking of our future. The people who walked out on us don’t control what happens next. The places we never went don’t control what happens next. I’m still playing this game with myself where I think that I can control the circumstances around me, but deep down, I know I can’t. My future is determined by the one who created me, my pain was taken by Him upon his shoulders. So if this seems like another hurdle you can’t jump, take a couple of steps back, and dream on.
P.S., here’s a picture of Charlize with one of the most influential people in the world.