I had a truly horrific dream last night, and even though I don’t believe in dream interpretation, I do believe there’s something we can learn from them every once in a while.
Last night, I dreamt that my 3-year-old daughter and I were trapped in a metal cage of sorts, set up much like an elevator. And for whatever reason, we were being slowly lowered into a body of scolding hot water to our deaths. We were with two others, a brother (I don’t have a brother in real life), and his girlfriend. I don’t know why this was happening to us, or why we were in rain boots, but we were.
My “brother,” his girlfriend and I discussed the options, and apparently, there was no way out of here. As they continued to find a way out of this, my daughter was clinging to my leg. I remember looking down at her running my hand over the top of her head and bringing her close. Realizing there was nothing I could do to protect my precious child from the pain we were about to endure, I picked her up and wrapped my arms around her and began talking to her about going to heaven. This part I remember in great detail.
I said to my 3-year-old, “Baby, do you know how much mommy loves you?” to which she nodded with her head on my shoulder. “Don’t forget that no matter how much mommy loves you, Jesus loves you more, baby.” I reminded her about the two pets our family lost when she was 2 that she still talks about to this day – Digger, the dog and Ely, the cat – as I sat down on the floor with her in my lap. “Remember when Digger and Ely went to heaven to be with Jesus? That’s where we’re going, baby; and we’re going to go together. Jesus is going to come for you and mommy.” I took her face in my hands and looked her right in the eye, praying to God I could be strong and brave, and I said, “It’s going to be scary for a minute, okay? It’ll probably hurt. But mommy is going to be right here with you the whole time; and Jesus will come and He’ll save us both, okay? He’ll be able to make it all better. You don’t have to be afraid, okay baby?” We both had tears by now, and I told her just to hold onto me and I’d hold onto her and we’d be okay because we get to go to heaven together. “Mommy loves you, baby” I said to her, and she squeezed me tight, and said, “I love you too, mommy.” At this point, there wasn’t much left to say, so I stood back up with her, held her close, and she and I sang together, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones, to Him belong. We are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me; the Bible tells me so.”
The last thing I remember before I woke up was singing that with her over and over again, and trying not to look down because I could feel my rain boots being submerged in hot water.
It really shook me up this morning, and I just prayed and prayed and prayed to overcome my fear of it because it just wasn’t real. But looking back, I’m thankful that in the face of danger, when I could do virtually nothing for my child, I could offer her the comfort of the promise of heaven through the love of Jesus Christ.
It wasn’t until later that I realized that there was something to be learned here.
I was standing at work listening to a song by Plum called In My Arms that I’ve heard probably more than 10 dozen times. When you hear the song, I imagine most people would hear this as a mother singing to a child, first, and the God to His children probably. Today, this was God to me, about my child.
The first verse and chorus go, “Your baby blues / So full of wonder / Your curly cues / Your contagious smile / And as i watch / You start to grow up / All I can do is hold you tight
/ Knowing clouds will rage in / Storms will race in / But you will be safe in my arms / Rains will pour down / Waves will crash all around / But you will be safe in my arms.” And then the symbolism of my dream hit me like a ton of bricks…
In the past few days I’ve been faced with circumstances that I would prefer to shield my daughter from and protect her from, but it is completely out of my control. Furthermore, there is just so much ugly and nasty and evil in the world that I will not be able to save her from. I can only shelter her from so much, no matter how hard I try.
But there is one thing I can do to help her, one thing I can do to protect her heart: show her and teach her about the strength and love of Jesus Christ.
So no matter what happens to her, she’ll be safe in His arms. No matter what storms rage, no matter how much rain falls, and no matter how many waves crash over her, He will be the Rock and the Savior to rescue her or the Almighty Father and Creator that will mold her through it.
She’ll face her own droughts and seasons of harvest, and even facing those of others as she walks alongside them, and I can’t always shield her from that. Only Christ can. Only the armor of God – not the armor of mom – will protect her from evil.
I’ve been divinely appointed to be her mother, so I should at least try I think, but when it all comes down to it, I’m only a human and can only do so much. I have to teach her to trust God.
And God is teaching me this one hard-to-swallow fact, that as a mother, I have to trust Him with her life. All of the principles I’m learning to apply to my own life – to trust Him with the plan for my life, rely on Him for strength, protection, and peace – are all things I have to trust Him to do for her as well.
About a month ago, I heard a woman preach a message for Mother’s Day about Psalm 107, specifically verses 23-31. They read,
“Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the LORD,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”
At the time, her son was going to Alaska to work on a ship, and on top of sending her other children away to various summer activities and her husband on a mission trip to Africa. Needless to say, she was losing it a little, and afraid for them…until God led her to this set of scripture.
Psalm 107 gives many examples of people in peril who cry out to God and He saves them. Without her message, I might not have made that connection, and I’m in awe and so grateful for the way God knits these things together over time.
As parents, as mothers, the best thing we can do for our children is not to shield them or save them or protect them from all the bad this life has to offer. (That’s not to say we should just throw them to the wolves, I don’t think it hurts to try, but most of it – and I promise it is almost all of it – is way beyond our control). The best things we can do for them are to put their lives in the hands of the one who used us to create them and teach them to do the same.
*photos included are actually of my daughter and I when she was about 1 month old, and then again just over a year. Photo credit belongs to Janelle Moyer of Bellia Photography in Morgantown, WV.