All the Dreams We Cannot Flee

I had an eerily vivid WWII-era-ish dream. I am not making this up. It sounds made up. But I dreamed it and it was awfully real.

Even in hindsight, writing it down is disconcerting as it brings the associated stress right back to my psyche.

I dreamed my sister and I were in a European village, where we apparently lived. There was knowledge of an imminent threat coming, so we grabbed food and coats and left our house. We were walking across a field, our arms full, when I said, “I forgot my boys’ meds! And I have no diapers for Truman.”

Amber kept walking. “We can go back later and get them,” she reassured me. I knew we wouldn’t be going back.

The beginning of the dream felt like a compilation of every World War II story of Nazis coming for Jewish families and yanking them away from their lives in a matter of minutes. The difference was we hadn’t waited for anyone to come and tell us it was time to go. We left before it could happen.

We walked briskly through the town. We agreed to meet at a bakery (which sounds like basically all the stories ever written about German-occupied France) a few blocks away.

“Split up,” Amber said, under her breath. We were being watched. I turned right down an alleyway and she continued straight on. The alley ended in a T and I went left. I noticed a large man ahead standing by a tall fence, watching me approach. I ducked down another alley. I saw through the windows in the warehouse between us that he was heading around the other side of the building to cut me off.

I ducked down low and went back the way I came. My heart blared in my chest. “When did my life become a Holocaust movie?” I thought as I crouched and ran.

The dream shifted and I was now sitting on the floor of the bakery, talking to my mom and sisters about what we should do. I looked through the plate glass window at the front of the shop and noticed that Truman had gone outside to play on the path. Just then, a man grabbed him and began carrying my wailing, terrified five-year-old away.

“He’s grown up in safety and doesn’t even know to hide and be afraid,” I thought as my mind raced. What should I do? The man was a few yards off with Truman, and had stopped to talk to some people.

I went outside and called to him, demanding that he give me my son. He set Truman down and walked toward me, large and menacing. We were face to face. He was taller. Fear liquefied my bones.

I thought, “This is it. He’s going to kill me.”

At the same moment, I also thought, “What does it matter? I couldn’t live with myself if I let him walk away with Truman.”

The dream ended as I looked him in the eye and said, “You will give me back my son.”

I woke up and felt that sense of tremendous relief that one feels when a bad dream turns out to be only a nightmare, and not reality. The adrenaline ebbed. But my mind was troubled.

This dream was distressing. We were in a war. Evil men were hunting us. I didn’t have meds or diapers or even the ability to protect my children from tyrants.

Why did I have this dream?

I feel that the message was entirely, inwardly personally related to my life.

Later that morning, I considered the dream and I remembered facing off with the menacing man who had taken Truman. I thought about how I’d stood up to him, despite my relative weakness and fear.

I commended my dream self for bravery. Good job, dream self.

Even as the dream played out, I remember thinking that the rural European-town-caught-up-in-a-war was a symbolic setting. It is something I could understand from plenty of reading on the subject, and from cultural osmosis. I don’t think my subconscious came up with this dream on its own. God sent me this dream to show me something.

I am not literally in a war. But figuratively? Yes.

I am fighting anxiety, rigidity, developmental delay, autism, food aversions, flexibility aversions, toilet aversions, and ridiculously aggressive behavior. Jack has fought me through every one of the seventeen documented ear infections he’s had in the last thirty-six months.

I see my sons’ fears. I see past their fears to their hearts. There is no blame—only empathy and a desire to help them overcome. I want them to feel peace the way I do.

My own fears disappeared when I slowly realized that Jesus knows how I feel, and that he is helping me manage the logistics of war.

My dream was about me seeing that God knows me and my war.  I’m capable of standing up to powerful, antagonizing forces because Jesus did it first and he is at my side.

Sometimes life is beautiful, and occasionally, we walk through a landscape of horror.

Because I’m not doing it alone, I have the will to face it.


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