My parents left yesterday for a 10-day trip, and for the first time since our arrival in DE, my wife and I have the house to ourselves. Because of this I decided not to set my alarm last night. I was hesitant to do this and even said, “I probably should set it, cause if I don’t I’m gonna sleep in until 10 AM”. I was assured that I would not do so, and I would likely catch a little extra, much-needed sleep. Believing that, I laid down knowing no alarm would sound, and I fell into a deep sleep.
I dreamed of many things–the first of which woke me in the middle of the night but did not rattle me to the extent that I remember it. The second thing about which I dreamed was a camp or college or some sort of community wherein dorm life was involved. At this place, I was being bullied and rejected. I awoke at least once after some major incident but fell back asleep and returned to the dream (which, of course, only happens when the circumstances of the dream are unfavorable). I continued my plight in social torment, attempting with great moral conviction to simply take my lumps without retaliation, until I finally snapped and enacted vengeance that was wholly imbalanced against the ill I had experienced, nearly beating my persecutor to within an inch of his life (strangely, his head went from a normal one at the beginning of my attack to a video monitor with his picture on it by the end, which I think symbolizes my dehumanizing him during the process of my assault. But what do I know about dreams.). This violent event shocked back to reality, and I awoke with the echoes of the dream in my memory, coupled with a sense of concern over why the subconscious story played itself out in such a fashion.
Being wholly awake given this experience, I ventured downstairs thinking, “I feel oddly refreshed, I must gotten adequate sleep and worked through something through that dreaming. I am guessing it is around 9 AM.” Much to my chagrin, however, the clock read 10:34 AM. This was disappointing. For those first few moments after seeing the time, I felt a whirlwind of emotions: “Oh no! I lost 4 hours of my day (seeing as how I am usually up by 6:30). I am not keeping my schedule. How will I ever get anything done? I am becoming lazy. I still don’t have a job. I am such a derelict!” But something happened that I did not expect, something truly wonderful.
A host of ideas from the last week rushed to the forefront of my mind. First, I began to consider things said to me by a good friend with whom I recently had drinks. His current place in life is heavily focused on self-awareness and acceptance, and he had encouraged me to remember self-compassion in the face of failing to meet my own standards of excellence (standards that he found admirable given my being unemployed). Second, I began to reflect on a Scripture shared with me not once but twice yesterday–Romans 8:1, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”. Third, I thought about a time of sharing that occurred at church yesterday, in which folks spoke of God’s grace, his seeing us as we are in Christ, and his desire for us to look forward and pursue the future rather than dwelling on present or past failure. Fourth, I thought of my wife’s ever-earnest desire for me to cut myself a break when I fail to do things I demand of myself, a desire I knew she would voice if I showed any concern over the amount of sleep I got. I do not find it accidental that all of these things were reiterated over and over by independent parties over the last week, leading to today.
With these ideas in force, I took a breath and simply accepted what had happened, and I was grateful to the Lord for it. “Wow,” I thought, “I must have really needed that sleep and that time to process whatever was happening in the recesses of my mind.” I focus on this second point because of what I felt after the dream had passed (and, frankly, while it was ending). The individual who had belittled me and met my wrath became a victim himself due to my response, a dynamic which filled me with great compassion toward him and remorse for my supposed act of defensive justice. I am still trying to discern what was motivating this, but I have a 4-5 mile run today to contemplate it. Bottom line is, I am encouraged, truly; for two things happened today that I would not have expected. First, the self-abasement as a result from my sleeping was minimal (a development for me, I assure you). Second, having quickly resolved to accept that my day was starting late, I got to task with immediacy and fervor, getting done a number of things that I was not looking forward to doing.
Not a bad way to start the faux-workweek. Thanks for reading,
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