The night I had The Dream that changed my whole outlook on life, I had just turned 23. I was transitioning, uncertain, and insecure. I had committed to a new home, new housemates, and a new job; I had recommitted to a church that was in transition and a romantic relationship that didn’t fit; I wanted to be loved and recognized, and I hoped beyond all hope that I was making good decisions for my future.

The night before I moved into my new home, I dreamed that I went to a restoration for the body, soul, and mind spa. (Do those exist? Are they affordable?) I checked in and was given a list of personal, individualized assignments. The most prominent assignment on the list was that I had to spend my stay completely naked. (Yes, it started out as one of “those” anxiety dreams!) For some reason I accepted this list and reluctantly followed through. In the miracle of dream-worlds, I was not just naked physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. People could look at me and see everything about me: my hopes, my fears, my faults, my strengths, my weaknesses, my aspirations and motivations, and my sins.

Mortified, I found myself sneaking around the grounds, hiding behind trees and bushes, hoping no one would notice me. I remember the area was lovely. It was a garden of sorts, with people all over, talking and laughing. I wanted to join the fun, but I couldn’t bring myself to step out and let people see me. All of a sudden, the morning sun highlighted the most beautiful man I had ever seen in my life. He was perfect, and from my hiding place I could hear him talking to the group of people around him.

He was talking about life. The things he said made me jump with excitement. His perspectives were wonderful. He said everything I ever hoped I would hear a man say. Suddenly, I found myself in his company, and he was talking to me! I stared at him and drank in everything he told me with amazement. I had forgotten about myself, because he captivated my attention. I found myself falling in love with him. Then, I looked at myself and realized who I was. I was ashamed. He could see that I loved him. How ridiculous could I be? Why had I exposed myself? How could such a perfect man ever even think twice about me? I turned around to run away, but he pursued me. He gently grabbed my arm and turned me around. He pulled me toward himself and kissed me. He loved me, even as I was, exposed and insecure and ashamed.

I woke up. My mom, who had come to help me move into my new house, was sleeping in the bed with me and I silently groaned! How could I have just dreamed up such a perfect man? Especially when sharing a bed with my mom! How embarrassing. Definitely not a dream I’d be sharing…or so I thought. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was haunting. It hurt, because I knew the man in my dream didn’t exist, and I was trying to make a dying relationship work.

I am an out-loud processor. I have to share my thoughts in order to really know what I think about them; but even so, I have many times in my life held things secret for fear of what people would think of me. Despite my insecurities, I was beginning to realize at that point in my life that keeping my weaknesses and issues secret led to unhealthy thinking and open doors for the enemy to mess with me. So when the Holy Spirit pressed me to share my dream with my new housemate, Amelia, I set aside feelings of ridiculousness and obeyed. She and I spent an hour that day analyzing the dream. She said some very insightful things, but nothing we discussed settled the agitation I felt over the dream.

That night I prayed that the Lord would show me what it meant. It had to mean something, because it wouldn’t let me go.

The next day was Sunday. I went to church and sat toward the front-left of the small store-front church building that seated 400 to 500 people. The number of church goers had dwindled to 200 because of some transition. But we were awaiting a new pastor and his family. I had attended this church as a member since I was 19, and stayed through the transition because the people there loved me. I didn’t know what the new pastor would mean for the church. I didn’t know that I was about to enter into one of the most exciting seasons of my life.

One of the elders stepped up to the stage after worship and read a Psalm. He then went on to talk about Jesus. He said, “Jesus is the lover of our soul. He pursues us the way a lover pursues His love. Even though we stand before him naked and exposed, He sees us and loves us. He embraces us…” As the elder spoke, I began to weep. The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, This is the meaning of your dream.

I grew up knowing Jesus loved me. I trusted it at many important milestones in my life. But I didn’t understand that He LOVED me like that. He was the fulfillment of all of those insecurities and uncertainties. He gave me the love and the recognition I longed for. He knew me inside and out, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, and He loved me. I was bewildered. I hardly knew how to contain my giddiness. And why would I be such a blessed recipient of this understanding?

The realization changed me immediately! No longer did I turn to jealousy, when I felt someone else was receiving the attention I wanted. No longer did I hold people around me to impossible expectations. No longer did I manipulate to get the outcomes I felt I deserved. If Jesus loved me the way I really wanted and needed to be loved, then I didn’t need people to fill the voids in my life. If I felt hurt or betrayed or insecure, I asked myself, “What is the root issue?” Every time I answered that question, I knew Jesus already met that need in me at the cross and through His resurrection! It gave me the freedom to let go and forgive.

The timing of that dream could not have been better. It carried me through betrayal of a close friend, the break-up of the romantic relationship that was going nowhere, a rough first year of teaching in a school where my administration did not have my best interest at heart, the death of a friend and mentor, along with so many other ways life confronts the new bright-eyed college graduates of this world. On one of the most trying of those days, I remember crying with two of my housemates. I told Jesus, “The pain is so deep.” He responded to my heart, Yes, but my love is deeper. I felt the freedom to cry, but not despair.

Even now, over ten years later, I still go back to that dream. I am in transition. I feel we, as a family, are on a precipice of great and wonderful things. But I see that the going toward and through the wonderful things will also involve times of trial. I am tempted to feel insecure. I want someone to be proud of me, as a wife, a parent, a daughter, a friend, a Christian. It’s all silly, I know. I want to be those roles out of love, not for recognition. But the desire for recognition rears its ugly head, and I wonder if anyone notices my efforts. As I battle in prayer, Jesus gently reminds me that He has already filled those voids in my heart. I am dearly and deeply loved by Him. As I let His words sink into my heart, I can step forward in an attitude of giving from my abundance, rather than from my lack. I can care for others the way Jesus cares for me, never thinking of myself, because my eyes are on Him. It makes all the difference.

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    Lydia said...

    Beth, I just stumbled on your blog today and I'm so glad I did! Your dream spoke to me. Thanks for sharing!

  1. ... on February 19, 2010 at 10:22 AM  
  2. Beth said...

    Thanks, Lydia. I'm so glad. I know it wasn't meant for just me.

  3. ... on February 27, 2010 at 2:38 AM