I’ve had a recurring dream for at least the past couple of years. The people and place change slightly from dream to dream, but the theme has remained the same.
In each dream, I am either in late high school, or I’m a teacher at the school where I poured thirteen years of my life into the lives of children, mostly Kindergartners. The dream starts out with me going about my business, but at the end I suddenly realize that I don’t need to be there. I realize I’ve already finished high school, or that I can quit my job because my husband and I have achieved financial independence.
When I have this revelation, an inexplicable sensation of freedom overwhelms me. It’s a feeling I’ve rarely felt in real life.
A couple of nights ago, I had the dream again, and when J woke up I told him, “I’m sick of having this dream!” Not that I didn’t enjoy the joyful feeling of freedom that the dream always ended with, but I was tired of having to go through what preceded it – the feeling of frustration and being stuck.
I’d prayed about the interpretation before, and received nothing. A few months ago, I read some articles on a website about dream interpretation that explain how to interpret your own dreams in the light of the context of your life. Those principles in mind, I set my mind to trying to figure out this dream.
In the meantime, I’d been reading the intriguing novel The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (if you’re looking for fascinating, faith-based stories, read his books). In the middle of the apparent mess the main character, Brock, has made for himself, one of the minor characters reminds him that he is not in control.
As an idealist-perfectionist, I have ignored that doctrine for years. We have free will, right? So if I make the exact right choices then I will end up with a perfect life, right?
So if it’s not perfect, that means I made some wrong choices. This belief has led me, during the past more than fifteen years, to slowly accumulate a list of regrets longer than Trump’s accumulated tweets.
Okay, maybe not quite that long. But like Brock, I have so wanted to go back to my twenties – even earlier – and make different choices.
However, this novel woke me up to the fact that this would probably not be a good thing.
Back to the dream. By the end of the day, I thought I’d come up with the right interpretation. I wasn’t far off base, but the next day I started feeling like I wasn’t quite there. So I decided to get alone with God. To ask, and listen hard for an answer.
I got it. Why didn’t He give me the interpretation earlier? Probably because I wasn’t ready for it. He knew I would get my hands on this novel, which would prepare me for what He had to say.
I’d been interpreting the sense of freedom in the dream as a good thing. After all, doesn’t God want us to be free? Yeshua Himself said that whom He sets free is free indeed.
What the sense of freedom actually meant was that I had been perceiving all my years in the classroom – both as a student and as a teacher – as a waste of my life. My job was a kind of bondage that kept me from doing what I was really called to do.
In other words, I had regretted most of my adult life. Why?
BECAUSE I BELIEVED THAT I WAS IN CONTROL.
I had been doing what Yeshua accused Saul – later known as the apostle Paul – of doing: kicking “against the goads.” God had set me on the path He’d determined for me before I was even conceived in my mother’s womb, and I fought against it tooth and nail. At least in my mind, if not outwardly.
Consequently, I hated my job. Was miserable. Stressed out most of the time. I tried to switch schools. I tried to build an MLM business.
None of my attempts to exit my career – or at least make it feel better – worked. And my rare expressions of gratitude for it were born more out of guilt than actual appreciation for God’s blessings.
To my dying day, I will cling to the fact that our education system is messed up and that children would be healthier out of it than within it. But that’s my ideal world, which doesn’t exist. God has to work with our imperfect world.
Not to mention the imperfect people with which He has populated it.
What if, instead of feeling trapped in my job, and feeling like I’d made the wrong decisions, I had believed that God had put me there because He knew I needed those experiences in order to become the person He wanted me to be? What if I had embraced the various challenges in those circumstances as gifts from God, rather than devil- or self-induced problems? What if I had taken those challenges less seriously instead of seeing them as wars I had to win? What if I had not constantly expected the impossible: that every person and every event should live up to my outrageously high expectations?
I’ll tell you what. I wouldn’t have carried around so many regrets, for so long.
And don’t think that my regrets stopped at my decision to teach. If I had a dollar for every time I wished I’d never gotten married, or bought that condo, or bought that house, or had a baby – oh, I better stop since you may already think I’m the most selfish person to ever walk the earth.
Although if you do, I will admit I’m inclined to agree with you.
The dream was God showing me that I’ve never lived in true freedom, because for all these years I’ve been carrying a burden of regrets.
I have bowed my heart before God and repented for my unbelief and my horrible attitude. My disrespect and dishonor toward Him by rebelling inwardly against His plan for my life.
I have determined never to have anymore regrets. I will walk in freedom, knowing that God is both leading me, and watching my back.
I think that’s called “trust.” And, I think maybe that is what Yeshua was referring to when He told us that if we wanted to enter the kingdom of God, we had to come like a little child.
How many little children do you know that have regrets, and believe they can control their lives?
No more regrets.