Do dreams have meanings? Are we supposed to learn something from them? Are they omens or portents? My opinion on this has changed quite a bit over the years.
I have a very active imagination (I’m a writer after-all, it’s a job hazard). As a teen I had this really fantastic recurring dream where I could fly. It would always begin in this room I didn’t recognize with floor to ceiling bookshelves and the room had these awesome nearly floor to ceiling paned windows with rich dark wood trim. I take a couple turns around the room and then out the window. Free!
The wind held me up and my arms pumped. Like I was swimming, I would pull myself through unseen currents. Banking around tall buildings, I had a bird’s eye view of the world. I would dodge hydro wires until I arrived at this unremarkable home with a small balcony and a window. I wasn’t searching for anything, and sometimes I would meet people I didn’t know and fly with them.
I miss those dreams.
I had a dream once where I was adopted by a family of polar bears – of the Coke-can variety. They were very friendly though incredibly racist when it came to wolves (long story). I had a dream that I was cast in a Hobbit movie (Bofur = swoon) but I was fired before filming started because I had bad body odor. *sad face*
People tell me they don’t remember their dreams, but I remember dreams I had as a young child.
Of course, I’ve had very dark dreams as well. Like the dream that kept me awake many many nights where I was hunted through my home town. I searched every window as I ran through the streets seeking help, watching curtains fall back in place as people stepped away from the window. Hunted by men with glowing red eyes, I would always be caught.
Drowning. Being immobilized. Watching those I love killed in front of me.
There are some dreams I’d rather forget.
But do they mean anything? The Bible has several stories where God communicated to people through dreams – think Joseph and his prophetic dreams of rising above his brothers, of interpreting the dreams of the servants of Pharaoh. Daniel was brought in to interpret the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. Abimelech was warned through a dream that Abraham was lying about Sarah being his sister. Many of the prophets received word from God through dreams.
I’ve interviewed many many believers (especially those who come from a Muslim background) who speak regularly of God speaking to them through visions and dreams.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).
I’ve experienced premonitions (all of rather benign import) though not since committing my life to Christ. I used to tie myself up in knots trying to understand the significance, the hidden message, in my dreams.
When I think about the motives behind my obsession with finding the meanings of my dreams though, I have to admit it was rooted in a selfish desire to control things. If I knew what was going to happen maybe I could stop it, influence it, avoid the pain and heartache — insulate myself somehow. Which is utterly impossible. Without the sorrow, the heartache, the strife – we would never learn to appreciate the moments of joy, the seasons of happiness. We’d never learn how to be strong enough to stand up under pressure, under persecution, to speak out against injustice. Without the difficult seasons, we’d never have the empathy to help others in their own journeys.
I have learned that I need to give up all control to God – in all things (though I’m quite imperfect at fulfilling that desire). There are some dreams that I flee from and in the middle of the night shake my husband and ask him to pray out loud. There are some dreams I don’t want to wake up from. I have learned to take the good with the bad – because most of the time they’re a barometer of my own spiritual wellness.
What about you? What kind of dreams do you have? Do you think your dreams carry significance? Do you search out the meanings of your dreams?