Fear: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. (definition from Google)
for book 4 of my fantasy series.
One night, I dreamed I was a beast.
I was small, doglike, and had somehow found my way into a large, gorgeous library. There were books from floor to ceiling, beautiful books held in old, wooden bookcases. Between the bookcases stood tables of the same kind of wood, and a few of the people there were sitting at them, reading their way through stacks and stacks of wisdom.
Most of my dreams are lucid, which means that I know I’m dreaming while it’s happening, and I can control what’s happening but, sometimes, I decide to let the dream run its course because I’m curious about what will happen next. That’s how it was with this one.
I scampered through the library, sniffing at people and exploring this wonderful library, very glad to be in a setting such as this.
Before long, a shadowy figure of a man came up to me and held out his hands to pet me. I knew he was bad news, but there was some kind of energy about him that attracted me and, even as I was thinking “This is a bad idea”, I went up to him and let him touch me.
The energy entered into me, dark and strange and terrifying. It pushed me back into a corner of myself, and something else took control of my body. Darkness took hold of my senses, kept me small, and all I was aware of was this sick feeling of revolving motion, as if my four legs were somehow now working like a wheel to move me forwards.
And I knew I was destroying the library while the dark man laughed.
This went on for anywhere from minutes to hours; I don’t know for sure because I cold not tell the flow of time. The only times I made myself big enough to catch a glimpse what was going around me, I shrank back immediately in horror of what was going on around me. Of what I was doing.
At some point, when I looked out again, there was something different.
There was another man, this one dressed in white, sitting with his back to a table and his attention on me. I recognized him as Jesus, and I was so happy to see him, because I didn’t know how to free myself and I knew that he could help me. He beckoned and I urged myself to go.
The darkness brought me to him, hackles raised and growling, and he touched me just like the dark man, who I now recognized as Satan, had. I was so ready to be free that I took a step, expecting only to lean into his touch, but the darkness rose within me and took over again.
I leapt at Jesus, tore at him with my teeth until he was maimed and bloody.
In horror, I pulled back within myself and, as the beast continued to destroy the library, all I could think of was Jesus’ smile as I came towards him, and I knew that he had trusted me, that he had fully expected me to return to my true self again, and I had hurt him instead.
When I woke up that morning, all I could see in my mind was that moment when I had lunged at the one I love the most and tried to tear him to pieces. I was determined to never betray his trust like that again, never for real.
What made all of this so much more terrible for me was that I could have chosen to stop at any moment. After all, I had known I was dreaming; I had had the power to change everything. Instead, I had given in and let Satan influence me even though I had known that nothing good would come of him.
And I did not know how to live with the fact that I had attacked the only one in the dream who was only acting for my benefit.
In my determination never to turn against Jesus like that again, I tried to interpret the dream in order to discover what it was that had really happened. I came to the conclusion that it was the fact that I had lost control that all the terrible things had happened. The dream must have been a warning that I had a beast inside of me and I needed to keep it from breaking out, or else I would hurt others.
It seems a reasonable enough conclusion. After all, Western culture has a history of prizing reason and logic above all else, above emotions that, as the story goes, can so easily take over and turn us to chaos and destruction.
There is also the idea in Christian tradition of the battle between the sinful nature and the righteous nature. The struggle between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the spirit.
Mixed in with all of that, were my own experiences of screaming rage and of pervading sadness which were both part of the depression that I had experienced only a few years before, and which still had an imprint on my consciousness as something that I hated with all my being.
In the midst of that chaotic blend of ideas, I decided that I had been born with certain feelings and urges that were hateful, and that they would take over and take my life from me if I let them gain even the tiniest bit of a foothold.
As a result, I started locking away anything about myself that others seemed to dislike, hiding those things under thick slabs of concrete, doors meant to be shut and to never open again. I hid so much and forgot so much and went from acting like it wasn’t there to believing that it had never been there.
For all intents and purposes, I gave myself selective amnesia.
Out of fear.
Now, there’s something about that dream that I didn’t mention, and that’s the ending. It’s something that I completely ignored the morning after because of the trauma of the middle, and continued to ignore for years, but I didn’t forget it.
After my attack, Jesus stood up from the chair and came over to me. As much as I longed for the peace I knew he could give me, I wanted to yell at him not to do it, that I would only attack him again, but he didn’t stop. He came over and took my head in his hands, and the wild beast that I was fought him but could not break free.
Seeing this, seeing that he still trusted me just as perfectly as he had the first time he had touched me, I stopped trying to tell him so stop and made myself ready to receive whatever he had that managed to get through the darkness around me.
And then I was at peace.
The darkness was gone and I was at peace.
That dream hadn’t been about losing control at all, but it wasn’t until today that I realized what it was really saying, what I’m pretty sure God was saying to me through it:
“No matter what you do to me in the chances for healing I give you, I will still offer healing again. Even if you tore me apart and left the pieces for the vultures, I would come back to you and offer you my heart without reservation.”
I had turned a message of such hope into one of condemnation, shame, and fear of the person I believe God had created me to be. And I could be saying that I’m a terrible person for missing the truth of that message, but the funny thing about that message is that it’s telling me that all those years of missing the point don’t matter. The point is that now, I understand.
It doesn’t matter how much I fear, because God loves.
And I believe 100% that perfect love casts out all fear.
No matter what you do, you will never lose your chance at healing, whatever that chance looks like. There is so much love in the universe and you can trust this about love:
It never fails.