June 14, 2016

Sense Making Round 2

I woke up today thinking my life really is going no where. I feel like everything is as close to shutting down as possible, and as if I am left floating alone in a life boat with no rescue in sight. Why is this so? What has happened to my sparkling and always optimistic outlook? Where did it go?

Making Some Sense of Things

I think some of my poor spirit this morning is due to a dream I had right before I woke up and got out of bed. It wasn't a scary dream or anything, just one of those "this doesn't make sense dreams."

In this dream, I was once again in my old house on Hearn Road. This is the house I shared with my ex-husband and son for nearly 12 years. It was the last home we had together. I moved out of this home back in November of 2011, and later in January 2012, the lender foreclosed and the home was sold at auction. A number of people have lived in it since, and I think there is a family who owns it now. This home was a gift from my ex-husband's parents. They provided the down payment so we could purchase our first home together. It wasn't the "perfect home" nor was it very fancy. It was not even in the best location, but it was a home we could afford, and it provided a way out of the "renter" cycle we had been living in for nearly 15 years. This home, thus, was our future. It encapsulated a sense of hope, hope for a better future for us as a family, for our business, and for our son. It was a placed filled with many happy times, but also with many difficult, dark, and depressing times.  In a lot of ways, this home represented my former life -- the life I lived for close to 30 years -- and it stood as a symbol of what my life was back then. As such, in my dreams, I often return to this home. I often go here because this was the place where I lived for so long, and where the love I shared with my husband, and the love I had for my family (my family of three) eventually died.

The Dream

As in so many of my dreams, I saw myself actively engaged in conversation and life in this home. On this particular day, I was there with my ex-husband and my son. The house looked "sort-of right," meaning that some of the house looked the same and some of it looked like it was from another home or picture of a home. I always feel like I know where I am, I recognize the place, but some of the items, the arrangement of things are out of order. It is like I know where I am, but the house is not really as I remember it. It is different. Just different.

Some of the things I noticed right away were obvious. First, the kitchen was laid out differently. It was a galley style like what I had when I lived there, but some things had been changed, namely the counter near the refrigerator was missing. Second, the wall color was green, sort of a blue-green. It was not the color I chose for the house when I lived there. Third, there were magnets on the wall near the refrigerator, and the lighting, while subdued the way I like it, made the whole kitchen look different or "off" from what I recall of my former life.  Fourth, I could tell that my ex was living in the home, and that the house appeared to have things in it that belonged to another person. Like I said, it "looked" like the same home, but with different things, and it clearly had a different feel to it.

The bulk of the dream was about a conversation I was having about things "we" needed to purchase for the office area. This would have been a normal conversation between my ex and myself some 10 years ago, but now, it made no sense to me. We talked about paper clips and scotch tape, and then the conversation turned toward food.  I asked him if he needed food. I thought that perhaps my son, if he was living there, staying there I mean, might need some food to eat. My ex said that he would appreciate some "ground beef," and I said I would get some from the store. Then my son walked in, opened the refrigerator and took a drink out. He mumbled that something was the "last one," and I got up to look to see what other items might be needed. I was making a list. I remember writing down "eggs, bagels, etc." These are some of the food items I buy now so as I was making this list, I couldn't help but think that I was doing something I wasn't supposed to do (buy food for my ex, I mean). Part of me thought it was normal business. I use to do the shopping in our family, so my ex and I would discuss what items to put on the list before I left to go to the grocery store or Walmart. In this case, I was making a list of things that I thought he would eat (along with my son). But, as I looked in the refrigerator, I saw all this food. Leftovers of every sort and kind, all packaged in glass bowls. Clearly, the food in the refrigerator was made by someone who could cook (not that my ex didn't cook) or who provided food to my ex.

As I looked in the refrigerator, I noticed that many of the things in the house "appeared" to be things a woman would have in her home. I thought it was odd that he would have decorated the house this way. After I made the list, I walked down the hallway to see if my son's room was still setup, thinking that perhaps he would need it when he stayed here. Then I turned to the bedroom (our old room), thinking I would use the bathroom, and as I walked in it, I saw two twin beds. It was weird because I saw a woman in here nearby the window. At first, I thought it was my Mom, but now I am not so sure. Her back was turned toward me so I couldn't see her face. As I think of the image, it was not my Mom. This woman was younger, taller, and slimmer than my Mom. I remember thinking that it was good that my ex had someone to care for him, to stay with him, in case he needed help in the night (he is not well).

Right as I looked away from the window in my dream, I woke up. I laid there for a moment, and I wondered what all this meant. I mean, why do I sometimes dream about my old home, my old life? I guess it is because part of me is still tied to that life, and those memories are still so strong for me. My life, that life in particular, was important to me. It was part of my identity, and living without it, has been very difficult for me. I have lost a part of my existence, and nothing I do now, will ever bring it back to me. I can never recover what was lost.

The Interpretation

It has been two hours since I woke up, and I have thought a lot about that dream. I am one of those people who sees images and visions often. I have done so since I was a child. I have always had vivid dreams. Most of these dreams were the scary type, nightmares and such. As I matured, however, my dreams took on more realistic and interpretive elements. Often, I would dream of things, and then the dream would contain elements that I would see come to pass in my own life. I would see snippets of things in my dreams, and then some time later, those snippets would appear in real life. I would also at times hear the Lord in these dreams. Sometimes I would hear Him speak to me, and sometimes I would just sense that He was saying something without the words being spoken. Most of the time, I would wake up from a deep sleep and then forget what I had dreamed about at all. Other times, like today, I saw everything in vivid and bold detail, and even two hours later, I can recall exact impressions, images, and even sensations I felt during the dream. It is like the dream is part of my mental reality and not a fantasy created by random images floating in my brain.

In this dream, and because it is so similar to many I have had before, I know that some of the interpretation is linked to my identity and my need to be affirmed in my own self. Let me explain...

After I had gotten out of bed and started my normal routine, I prayed for the Lord to help me understand this dream, but more importantly, to help me understand (to know and to comprehend) why I feel the way I do -- like I am lost, out of sorts, stuck in this "out of phase" (to quote Sci-Fi) mode. I want to know why this is happening to me. What appears to be going on in and around my life is not random, it is not happenstance, and I am trying to make sense of it all. I asked the Lord for His help so that I could come to terms with whatever is causing me to feel this way. I mean, I FEEL so awful right now. I feel like I am in this pressure cooker, and that I am about to explode. I don't know why. I am trying so very hard to be patient, to wait, to sit this one out, to REST, but nothing I do seems to have any effect. I go to bed stressed, and I wake up stressed. I am struggling right now to understand who I am, where I am to go, and how I am to do it. I feel like I can no longer sit by and just say "whatever." No, I must take control. I must take hold. I must start to do things to move toward some end. But, what? What am I to do? I just don't know.

O, Lord, please help me? I feel so lost, so clueless, so helpless right now.

Some thoughts toward this end:

  • The home - this home is symbolic for me. It simply represents my former life. This was the last place I lived where my life made complete sense to me. I had a job (web design), and I was a wife and a mother. I was a home educator as well. And while my former life was not always happy, it was my life. I mean, I was invested in this life -- until death do us part -- so to speak. I may not have liked what was going on in my marriage or with my ex-husband's business, but it was my life. I had settled on it. I was confirmed in it. I knew my place, and I knew that no matter what happened to me, I would always know who I was, what my purpose was, and how I was to live my life. The story here in this home was well-established, and the outcome, while uncertain and unknown, had a predictability to it. I could be settled that certain aspects would remain steady no matter what changes took place outside my home. I would always be someone's wife. I would always be my son's Mom. I would always be part of a family unit of three people.
  • The relationship - the relationship demonstrated in this dream is fractured. It is broken apart, which is why the home I see in my dream is no longer as I remembered it. It has a different element to it, and as I engaged in conversation, clearly there was this "feeling" that said to me "I don't belong here." Furthermore, the only place I ever see this other woman is in the bedroom. This means that this is her role now, and this is why I see her in this place.
  • The tangibles - the bulk of this dream dealt with responsibility and my involvement. I was making a list, a grocery or food list, and I was caring for people (by extension) as I have always done. In my own life, I buy almost all the food now. I do all the shopping for my parents and my son. I make lists daily, and I see to everyone's needs. This is one of the roles or hats I wear. I am a caregiver to my parents. I am in this responsible role as head of household (as one who is in charge or who is responsible for the majority of the expense). Thus, my role as caregiver and head of household was demonstrated to me. This is part of who I am, this is part of my identity now.
What I didn't see was my job or the career I have at present. In fact, when I was in the office area (in the beginning of the dream), I saw desks and they were empty (cleared off). The lights were turned off. The office looked closed, which says to me that what took place in that room was no longer viable. It was a business that closed down (which is true). I stopped designing websites at the end of 2009, though I occasionally took a job afterward as needed through 2011. Thus, the empty office was representative of what was once a business, but is no longer active or productive.

As I think about these things, I guess I am confirmed in the fact that my roles and my identity have changed since my divorce. I am no longer any man's wife. I am still a Mom, but as my son ages, this role is changing as well. I am still active in his life, but he is responsible for making his own choices now. I have left behind website design as a career, and I have embarked on a career as a professor of English. I struggle with my career, with choosing a path, simply because I am at this crossroads. I need -- no, I want -- to be settled. I want to have one career focus and not two. I want to be settled, to be set and to not change my mind. I want to say "This is it! This is the job I will do until I retire -- and no matter what comes -- I will do this kind of work." I so desperately need to know what to do right now. I see my life spinning out of control, and I see the choices as they come up before my eyes. 

How do I know which way to go? How do I choose the right way to go?
Confusion and Disorder

I think when confusion comes, it is always wise to consider the source. Where does this confusion come from? My first thought runs to 1 Corinthians 14:30-33 AMP where Paul states,
"But if an inspired revelation is made to another who is seated, then the first one must be silent. For [in this way] you can all prophesy one by one, so that everyone may be instructed and everyone may be encouraged; for the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets [the prophecy is under the speaker’s control, and he can stop speaking]; for God [who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people)..."
Paul is writing about disorder within the church, especially in practice during meetings or gatherings. Apparently, it was normal for members of the church to stand and to prophesy (to give some word to the body). Paul was giving instruction of how things should proceed, and he was careful to state that every word that was preached was to be "discerned" to test whether or not it was true. The problem, it appears, was that there were conflicting testimonies being given, and there was disorder and confusion among the saints. Paul reminds the Corinthians that God is not the author of their confusion nor is He the instigator of the disorder. Rather, He is a God of peace and order.

Whether or not you consider dreams and visions to be prophetic is a point of perspective. Some Christians do not believe in prophetic dreams. Others say that in some circumstances, prophetic dreams do occur. Many believers, however, are simply unsure of the practice at all. In my case, I do not think that my dreams are prophetic in any sense. I mean, they are simply dreams and imaginings inside my head. They do seem to have some relationship to my existence, and they do seem to provide some measure of meaning-making. Some psychologists would say that the reason why I have these types of dreams is simply to help me come to terms with my life, with what is happening in my life. There is no mystical or magical component at all. My psyche is simply in self-preservation mode and it is attempting to help keep me stable, sane, and in control of my faculties.

In my view, it seems that since I have had these types of dreams for so long, and that I have always deeply reflected upon their meaning (as a practice), I have become good at interpreting what seems to be answers to problems that are troubling to me. In many ways, my dreams bring me comfort or at the least, some measure of comfort to help me overcome the confusion and disorder I feel in my life.

Leaning on the Lord

One thing I know for sure is that this present trouble is nothing compared to the glory that is to come in time (Romans 8:18, 2 Cor. 4:17). I may not understand what God is doing in my life, but I can take great comfort in knowing that whatever it is, He is fully and firmly in control. My God is in charge of my days, my nights, and all the in between moments. I may not understand what I am to do today, but I know that He has a plan for my life and that plan is a good one. He is good to me. He is so very good to me.

Therefore, despite everything that has transpired today, I lean on and rest in the Lord. I place my whole faith, my every fiber of my being into His blessed and confident hands. He alone can resolve this trouble. He alone can provide a way out for me. He will see me through to the end, and He will keep me in one piece (mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually). He is the AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF MY FAITH (Heb. 12:2). I rest in Him this good, good day. I rest, I let this go, and I accept whatever He has in mind for me to do today. He is worthy of my praise, my adoration, and my worship. 

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