Monday, September 28, 2009

Of dreams, rebellion, surrender, and choosing differently

I am having a not so good morning, and right now, what I want to do more than anything is go home and lay in bed feeling sorry for myself. Probably not the most productive possibility, but it sure sounds good right now.

For much of the last two years, I've been existing in a space that was more dead than alive. Just under 50 days ago, I encountered Jesus (again) in a powerful way, and decided to start making some different choices. I decided I wanted my life back, that it could no longer be stolen by the powerful forces that I'd lived at the whim of for so long. I decided I was going to choose to really live. And, in the midst of that, to choose to be joyful, even in the midst of the really hard moments. To tackle the incredibly negative internal dialogue and try to see the world differently. The "Daily 5" lists that have been showing up regularly here on my blog are a part of that attempt to encounter the world differently, to be less overwhelmed by the seemingly negative, and to focus on the positive things in life.

There have been very smooth days, and very hard days in that process.

Today is a hard day.

I've not rested (though I've slept just a bit) in two nights.

I woke this morning from clear and disturbing dreams, touching deeply on themes of forgiveness, healthy boundaries, human relationships, family, friendships and hurt. Themes that lead to ongoing thoughts pondering the subjects of rebellion and surrender.

I dreamt indirectly of a particular couple that I grew up with. One of those really challenging couples if you're a pastor's kid. Very demanding, doesn't take "no" well, must know everything about your life and business. That kind of couple.

I dreamt of them (her actually) once before. About 5 or 6 years ago. In that dream my frustration was evident, as was my newly discovered ability to say "no." I distinctly remember waking from that dream, shocked, because I'd told her to f*** off. Not language I tend to use. Certainly not language that is common in my dreams. The dream unsettled me then, and the similar themes of boundaries, rebellion, and un-forgiveness of last night's dream (though minus the swearing) were just as unsettling today.

My definition of rebellion is becoming infinitely more subtle than it once was. It used to only include the overt behaviours - the "out loud" things of life. The two year old pitching a temper tantrum in the toy store because he was told he can't have his way. These days I wonder if rebellion is not a far more subtle thing. If it is not somehow rebellion each and every time I choose to harbor something because I feel it is my "right" to be hurt or indignant. If it is not rebellion that I choose at times to hold on to these things, when I know it is clearly not the way of Jesus.

Surrender is never easy. That letting go of my rights in favor of something bigger. And it doesn't seem to matter how many times I do it, it never gets much easier. It remains a challenge. Maybe it's that I have a strong sense of justice (imparted by my dad), and surrender rarely seems just. And yet, it seems somehow necessary.

Tears flowed, this morning, as I condsidered all these things, and listened to the song playing on the stereo as I drove. And even that listening was an act of surrender. Because I wasn't in the mood to surrender. I wanted to listen to the song that talked about the ooey-gooey love of Jesus for me, to feel good about myself, when I knew I was harboring some less than holy thoughts. The last song I wanted to put on was one with the rather telling title of "I Surrender." So I played the song and let the tears flow. Because my heart hurts and I really wanted to hang on to those hurts. Because I am exhausted and I never cope well with the world in those moments. Because inbetween two sleepless nights I had an eleven hour marathon of traveling and prayer and intensity yesterday, and I'm feeling spent. Because the justice I want will never be mine, and I will need to once again (to quote DC Talk!) "give up the rights to myself."

A friend reminded me in an early morning email that today is Yom Kippur - the day of Atonement. The holiest day of the year for Jews. I'd known it was coming, even commented to my roommate that the timing of my trip yesterday, the day before Yom Kippur was unique, but I'd forgotten in the crazyness of sleepless nights and a very full day.

The reminder hit hard, and is continuing to carry a certain weight with it as I pray and ponder the day. As I consider the dreams of last night, and my own broken heart, and a commitment to move forward with life. To choose joy amidst very trying circumstances. To see differently.

I have been challenged recently by the need to see differently. To take things like the dreams and thoughts and hurts to Jesus and ask "How do you see this?" or "What are you doing about this?" It's a series of thoughts that I'll perhaps write more about at a future time.

For the moment, I'm going to quietly go about my work day, let the themes of rebellion, surrender, forgiveness, atonement, and joy sit within me. And I'm going to ask Jesus "How do you see this? What are you doing about this? What are you asking me to do?" And I'm going to pray for ears that are able to hear his answers.