I woke this morning to another nightmare. I had one yesterday too. The irony is that these nightmares, although terrifying and petrifying, also have a sense of beauty and love woven into them.
Yesterday’s nightmare tried to create fear in losing all we have just worked so hard to acquire financially. This morning’s nightmare forced me to watch the potential easiness of my precious, little family being attacked and what it could do to us physically, as well as emotionally.
Both nightmares were extremely realistic yet exaggerated, which left me feeling confused and wanting comfort.
But who can comfort such pains of realistic fear and trembling?
The last 3 years have taught me who. And this morning, I got to feel His arms around me.
The feeling was actually quite remarkable. There I was, in the throws of a horrible nightmare and this man calmly, casually walks up to me and starts a conversation. He is wearing a paramedic suit and he is tall, much much taller than myself.
He bent down a bit in order to look deep into my eyes, as I was standing, watching my entire little family climb aboard what looked like a retired emergency helicopter (large ones like hospitals would use or the Coast Guard), but it was all for fun. My family had wanted to go for a ride. I chose to sit out and instead wait and watch. (That is kind of what I do now. Sit out and wait and watch).
As I was watching, what I thought to be a safe “rollercoaster ride” for my family, began to change. My heart started to pound. I could see that my youngest daughter wasn’t sitting down or buckled up in the helicopter, but the helicopter had already started to live up off the ground. She was standing up, and not too far from Paul that I wondered why she wasn’t being told or even forced to be restrained safely?
I could feel the pressure mounding in my chest. So I took a deep breath and tried to calmly remind myself that Paul was there, I was not, he knew what was best in that moment. I needed to trust what I did not understand.
But then the fear that Paul maybe couldn’t see, or didn’t even notice what our youngest daughter was doing started to set in. That was when a paramedic walked up to me.
I was immediately distracted from watching intently what was going on. I didn’t want to be rude and tell this man to leave me alone because I needed to intently panic over what I was seeing with my own eyes. But I did only give him part of my attention.
He watched my eyes dart between his eyes (boy were they intriguing to look into) and the helicopter loaded with my precious family. I couldn’t help but keep the helicopter in my view because I had no idea what this “ride” was going to put my family through.
Thankfully the nice, young man stayed with me and started to ask me why I was looking so scared. I tried to explain to him that my family was aboard and my daughter looked as though she weren’t buckled but I found myself not saying as much. The man distracted me and got me looking at other things around me and talking about them.
Then I heard the whirl of the helicopter propellers and refocused my attention on the helicopter. The helicopter was starting to do strange maneuvers, maneuvers that I felt would be best for test pilots, not inexperienced passengers on their first helicopter ride. I wondered what was going to happen but the man kept talking to me.
I liked the man talking to me. It WAS helping me to stay calmer but as soon as I would relax, my mind would force my eyes to intently watch the helicopter. That was when I noticed that the helicopter was starting to flip upside down and do strange tricks.
I tried to smile at the man like, “This is fun, right? This is normal . . . right?!?” And he just looked back at me with eyes that said, “What if it is what you fear it could be? An accident about to happen?”
I looked at him in shock like, “Wouldn’t you of ALL people care?!?!”
He looked back at me with such peace in his eyes. That is when I realized that no words were being spoken between us but they sure were being deeply felt. I looked up and watched as the helicopter started to descend to the ground . . . Upside down!!!
I was starting to go into shock. What was happening?!?
The man took me in his arms to protect me and brace me for the intense impact of the helicopter propellers spinning and throwing anything that lay in its path toward us and all the people around us. I realized that debris would be flung at my legs and body, I needed to protect myself so I could help whomever may get hurt aboard the helicopter. Most importantly my family.
I jumped upward, as high as I could jump to protect my feet and legs as objects where thrown toward me, and the man caught me and spun me around to face away from the helicopter.
He had his arms and hands around my arms to not only protect me but embrace me, comfort me and reassure me that IT WAS ALRIGHT. He knew what was going on, he was trained and very aware of what was happening. He wanted me to know it was okay. That this frightful experience was okay. That it was not freakishly wrong but actually alright.
But the pain and fear were starting to overtake my mind and heart. “What now!” was all I could manage to express from within myself and with those words my soul, mind and heart began to break. The feeling was so intense that I could feel it cracking and break apart, like a man walking across a frozen pond. Nothing could stop the cracking once it was started.
That was when I felt the man’s hold tighten on me, almost shaking me to hold on and not give into those thoughts. He turned me to look into his eyes and tenderly said, “Why are you so scared? What has happened in your life to make you choose to react this way?”
It was as if someone pumped fresh air into my collapsing lungs and giving me permission to speak what truthfully has in-prisoned my heart and soul. I spoke very honestly and with as much courage as I could muster, “My oldest daughter died in a car accident like this and there was nothing I could do to stop it. But it change EVERYTHING!”
I held my breath immediately preparing for a lecture or for the man to not acknowledge the truth of my words and just gloss over them as if it was in the past, thus insignificant. Instead I felt him say something that was only spoken to my heart. He said, “. . . . . ”
But then I woke up.
I know he said something but I can’t remember what he said. But it was so profound that I can still feel the intense care and concern that he had for me.
I do remember that before I woke up the helicopter did land, upright, and that I had no idea what damage had been done to my family, not only physically, but most of all emotionally. I needed to go to them and see if they were alright and what I could do to help them recover from what they had experienced.
As I started to walk away, I saw Paul out of the corner of my eye walking down the exit ramp towards a buffet lunch that was being provided for the participants of the ride. I was confused about what was going on, but especially after watching the helicopter turn upside down and spin wildly on the ground for what seemed like eternity.
How could Paul be okay? Where were the children? I needed to go to my husband but before I could, this man embraced me. It was the kind of embrace that strangers should not give to one another, but maybe someone you are extremely close to could at a moment like this.
I pulled away from this man’s tender, loving embrace to make sure I was indeed hugging him and not someone that I knew. I saw that it was still this same man. He looked deep into my eyes and heart with so much love, I was left feeling confused by not only how to respond but what to think from that moment on.
Was my reaction to the ride unnecessary or irrational? Should helicopters turn upside down and touch the ground with its propellers, causing huge waves of debris to fly and hit people who are innocently walking around, enjoying what should be a safe environment? Should people be involved in hideous accidents that were “supposed to be” fun rides or trips that cause death or dismemberment? Is this truly what life is and anything else greater than this a lie?
I was so confused but I had felt so protected during this experience that I wanted to thank the man. I honestly didn’t know what to say, so I decided to give him back a hug. That was when it got weird. I felt him not only accept my hug but give me an even more tender hug. Not anything inappropriate but purely spiritual and emotional. It was a hug between long lost siblings or family. Like an awakening was occurring, yet I wouldn’t last much longer than this.
I pulled back to see who this person I was hugging might really be, but it was still that same man, a stranger. I was hugging a stranger. Or was he?
I began to let go because I started to worry what the people around me might think. They might know me? My husband might see me and tell me what I had done had hurt him, even though I didn’t have those kind of feelings for this man, this hugging could potentially damage my marriage. So I pulled away and awkwardly gave him a Latin salutation (awkward hug but no kiss on the cheek) and started to walk toward Paul.
That was when I began to wake up. But I woke feeling torn. Was I potentially cheating on my husband or was this man more than I realized him to be? Who was that man really?
I immediately remembered the story of the men on the road to Emmaus and how they had not recognized the Savior, even though he had walked and talked with them most of that day. Had it been Him all along?
I was left feeling perplexed, conflicted, torn and confused – yet hopeful.
Then I watched this. And read this. I felt much better realizing that I have been blessed to know others who have had to wander roads they did not want to find themselves on but be told that it was okay, it is not wrong to be on this road.
Yesterday was a HEAVY day for me. I had to admit that my life is hard, much harder than I ever expected or wanted for myself. Living in the vulnerable now, instead of the expected dream is brutally difficult and many times exhausting. My mind battles with the thought that THIS IS NOT THE LIFE I HAVE BEEN STRIVING TO CREATE, or is it?
This song really comforts me when I find myself upset or hurt by the circumstances I am having to accept and live in.
Yesterday I felt weak and incapable of doing more than the necessary basics. I felt heavy, like I was dragging a heavy load behind me or upon my back. I wanted to be kind to myself and not push myself too hard but I knew I could do more. But how?
Then I remembered that those feelings of weakness and inability to do what I KNOW I need to do are called OPPOSITION! I know I can fight this opposition, the video above shows that I can because Stephanie can. So I can too. . . If I seek the source of light, truth and all love. Christ himself can help me find the strength to carry on.
I’m deeply thankful for the help I am constantly given to know that I can choose what course I want to take. I am thankful that in both of the nightmares I have recently had, I could FEEL that although I can not control what is happening all around me, I CAN control what and how I feel and how I choose to react. And, I’m thankful to admit that I am never truly as alone as I may feel in those frightful moments.
As I type this, I realize that I DOknow what that man said to me in my nightmare this morning. As he embraced me, after hearing my truthful words, he said, “I know. I was there too.”
And I know He was. Of course He was.
No, He can’t magically remove my trials or the trials of those around me away. It just isn’t part of the plan. But what IS part of the plan is that He IS there and He DOES care and He will try to administer to me but it is my choice if He can. He respects my agency and my actions. He wants me to act. He wants me to choose how to respond, for that is how I will best learn and grow.
For this I am truly grateful. I don’t understand it but I do respect it and feel its worth; it IS a gift. I pray I will not lose sight of that. I leave this story and my tender feelings with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.