The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

I’m a realist.  In case you wanted to know.  While my Dad sits with tears streaming down his cheeks watching Tiny Tim grow weaker, I’m busy calculating how much money the actor is making per word and whether his dinner will be sushi alone in his trailer or pizza with his entire family.  I can’t fully enter into imaginary worlds like others.  I can’t separate the characters from the actors (except when I watch Chocolat.  Because that’s not really Johnny Depp but a lovely gypsy man who is equally skilled at carpentry and soulful ballads.  It’s true.)  I wish I had the ability to fully enjoy movies and books in this way but I’m not sure it is possible.   

Even in the imaginary world of dreams, I always know I’m dreaming.  Sad, but true.  I only remember two dreams from my childhood: being locked up in a cage like Pinocchio by Lucifer the cat from Cinderella and Cinderella twirling around in my brain, each time she twirled, she was wearing a new outfit.  I remember thinking “I’m not having that.  This is so boring dreaming about Cinderella’s millions of colorful outfits.  Brain, stop doing that.  I know I’m dreaming.  Stop it now.”  And since then, I’ve always just stopped dreams before they got scary, intense or even interesting. 

I live vicariously through other people’s dreams.  I’ve never dreamt that I was flying.  I’ve never dreamt that I was late for class (although I think I dreamt once that I hadn’t completed my graduation requirements).  I’ve never ever dreamt that I was forced to speak in front of a large audience and then realized I was completely naked.  Never.  Ever.  And I know that some of you have. 

This week, a girl that I discipled while in England, wrote me a long email thanking me for investing time in her.  She wrote about how God was changing her and growing her confidence.  And then there was a scary line: “Last night, I had a dream about you.”

Let me give you a little bit of history as to why I think this line is so scary.  Once, a few years ago, there was this girl and she happened to work at the same company as her Dad for a few years.  She was doing the full time college, nearly full time work thing.  And one day she had a bad day as people do when they discover that their plans don’t match other plans and their friends have different ways of defining friendship.  So she did something very foreign to her and went to her Dad’s office and started crying.  It was a horrible, terrible, no good day.  (We all have them.)  And her Dad would have consoled her but he had an important meeting to attend and so she was left in his office to regain her composure.  Which was what she was doing when the office door opened.  And a co-worker stepped in.  And said the following: “I just wanted to let you know, I had a terrible dream about you last night.  You were in a horrendous car crash and your entire face was disfigured by battery acid.  It was grotesque.  Every time I looked at you, I ended up throwing up.  In fact, I still can’t look at you because it reminds me of that dream. And I don’t want to throw up.”  And he left.  The girl didn’t know whether to cry more or laugh.  I think she ended up laughing hysterically, if I remember the story correctly, but still, it didn’t bode well for future dreams. 

Right, back to the present now.  The dream that the girl I was discipling had was actually really good.  I guess I pointed her to some character traits that she needed to work on (but in a good way).  It got me thinking about dreams in general.  I determined to try a little experiment and try to have a dream and try to let it unfold naturally.  A lot of trying was involved. 

The result?  I had a dream the other night.  I was at a missionary conference in Eastern Europe with my family.  My husband and I had just settled into uncomfortable plastic chairs when I picked up a program of the weekend.  Top billing was given to a worship leader that had traveled all the way from England.  I was surprised to realize that it was someone I’d known very well during my year in England.  I said to my husband “I know that guy!” and then it dawned on me that I hadn’t told my husband anything about my life.  It was very awkward.  I barely made it through worship and then the main speaker got up.  He also was one of my best friends from England and he said “Now, if everyone would please open their Bibles” and it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have a Bible, I’d never read a Bible, and that is what made me such a failure as a missionary. It was awful.  I was worried that everyone knew my shameful secret (look, it’s the “Missionary who never read a Bible”) and would hate me.  I was so stressed and that’s exactly how I woke up – stressed.

I pefer stressfree living and since I’ve been quite good recently about reading my Bible, I don’t think the dream was in any way prophetic.  (In fact, I emailed both of the friends and neither of them think it was prophetic.  Well, except for the bits about them being famous worship leaders and preachers…) So I think I’m going back to a life without dreams, thank you very much.  It helps me sleep better at night. 

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