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:
- I was feeling threatened by conflict that was thrust upon me.
- I was feeling overwhelmed by the pressure I was under.
- I was losing my mind.
- I was losing my faith.
- 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.
Engage here. Have you had recurring dreams (or nightmares)? Have you learned anything from them?