An Evening With The Terminator, Part 2

An Evening With The Terminator, Part 2


~Joel’s blog

Sleeping With The Terminator Is A Bad Idea

So, last time we palpitated over my recurring nightmare of the Terminator chasing me down with unrelenting and mindless determination as if I was Sarah Connor. Frazzled after three nocturnal rounds with the nightmare, and at a loss of how to understand it, I sought out a licensed counselor, specializing in dreams. Yes, there are such people. I didn’t know. Quickly, the professional dismissed the theories that I came armed with for explaining the meaning of the evening visits with the Terminator.

The theories included:

  1. I was feeling threatened by the conflict that was thrust upon me.
  2. I was feeling overwhelmed by the pressure I was under.
  3. I was losing my mind.
  4. I was losing my faith.
  5. The terminator represented the person most toxic to me in the conflict.

The counselor acknowledged that each of these ideas could be present in the nature of the dream but, ultimately, had nothing to do with the primary “teachable moment” buried within the nightmare. None of them answered the vexing question:

Why is the Terminator chasing…me?

Unless It’s Not

The jaw-dropping diagnosis? The Terminator, that most horrific vision of the Tin-Man gone wrong, was me.

“Uh, what?” I asked, stupefied.

“It’s you. You’re chasing you. Your subconscious is trying to get your attention. It appears that it has. That’s why you’re here, right?”

Wow. Rinse, repeat. Didn’t see that coming.

Short story: the conflict within the church that I was serving at the time–with its severely troubled, highly dysfunctional and toxic leadership, that was virtually unseen by the congregation and militantly protected by the pastoral staff–was damaging me. The stress, the hurt, the sense of betrayal…all angered me. Frightened me. At a very deep level. But I was plodding along, doing my best to “deal with it” and be a  good, onward-marching, soldier. The counselor helped me see that, oddly enough, God was using a culturally ubiquitous image to reveal to me that I needed to utilize a different response to what was happening in my work-life…within my ministry. Going on, with my head low, was only supporting the status quo….which was easiest. But not what was best.

In what areas of your ministry or career do you think you might be settling for a head-low approach? Is it the best or just supporting the status quo? What needs to change? Who will benefit? Do you need an evening with your Terminator?

Engage here.

An Evening With The Terminator, Part 1

An Evening With The Terminator, Part 1

The Terminator Ruins Some Enchanted Evening

You ever have one of those dreams that doesn’t seem to want to let go? How about a nightmare?

Some nightmares I’m aware of. In other words, I know I’m having a nightmare. Doesn’t make it any better. This one was a doozy, and I’d had it before.

It was dark and blustery, but rather warm and humid. First, it was the sound, a strange sound, unearthly but still recognizable as footsteps. Very heavy footsteps.

Glancing furtively over my shoulder, I could barely make out in the waxing moonlight someone chasing me. Gaining on me. Coming on strong.

So I ran. As hard as I could. Heart pounding, feet pumping, my breath ragged and gasping. I couldn’t explain how–or more importantly, why–but the Terminator was chasing me. Horrified, it was clear I could not outrun him. The Terminator would catch me.

Just as the scream was forming in my throat, I woke up. Panting. Sweaty. And, if I may say so, understandably unable to go back to sleep. For the third time, over the preceding couple of weeks. Same nightmare. After three rounds of this, I’d reached the point that I absolutely didn’t want a fourth, so I cracked open a phone book and sought out a counselor with a background in dreams. Yes, there are actually such professionals, I was pleased to learn.

The Terminator As Stand-In

What followed was incredibly insightful. It didn’t take much conversation, and zero voodoo or therapist-speak, to discover there was something very important in my recurring dream, particularly that it was a nightmare. I’d gone in thinking all kinds of things, with various theories about what that nightmare meant. At the time, I was involved in full-time youth ministry, in a large, metro church, and undergoing very considerable stress related to it. Some theories that I or my closest confidants came up with included:

  1. I was feeling threatened by conflict that was thrust upon me.
  2. I was feeling overwhelmed by the pressure I was under.
  3. I was losing my mind.
  4. I was losing my faith.
  5. The terminator represented the person most toxic to me in the conflict.

Turned out it was none of those, as good and compelling (depending on who came up with it) these theories seemed. The nightmare meant something else entirely…something far more insightful and compelling than any I could have guessed.

Next time: An Evening With The Terminator, Part 2: The Real Meaning of the Nightmare.

Engage here. Have you had recurring dreams (or nightmares)? Have you learned anything from them?

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