During the night, it was the darkness that woke me up.
It engulfed me in my dream, while I walked with a young friend. One moment there was sunshine, flickering tree leaves, a blue sky backdrop behind a lake, and the next the world tipped sideways as swirling blackness materialized and swallowed me. I woke with the darkness choking me in that hazy in-between dimension where reality and sleep arm-wrestle.
These days, there’s a third dimension trying to strong-arm my rest.
In my dream, I was teaching my friend about warfare when the demons lunged at me. I was still tipping sideways when I woke, used every effort to drag myself from the blackness that followed me out of the dream. It reminded me of a similar experience this time last year in Texas, when Fear manifested in me, only this time I was in someone else’s house alone.
I turned on the lamp. I prayed until the darkness ebbed.
It was the most vicious in several weeks of spirit-assaulted dreams.
Last Sunday, I had a panic attack during church.
It closed its calloused hand over my throat until I had to focus on the basics of breathing, every inhale a cry to Jesus to rescue.
Two years ago, I would have chalked it up to nerves of leading worship. As falling into step with God has opened my eyes to the spiritual realm, I have come to believe that panic attacks stem more from an insecure heart and warfare than physiology.
Jesus rescued me, of course–I made it through the service. But I was exhausted and full of misplaced anger.
In the wake of a week’s wacky hormones, I was angry at my mother for never teaching me about my physiology and Eve’s curse and Satan’s monthly assault against that vulnerability.
Biting the heels of sleepless nights and nightmares, of trying to discern the spirits and which weapon to wield, I was angry at my father for never teaching me how to be a soldier.
Mocking my faithful preparation for Sunday service, I was angry at my overseers for not instructing me in leadership.
I felt young, inadequate. Unfathered. I was afraid of failing. I was afraid that God would be disappointed in me. My eyes were too clouded to see that as warfare.
I went walking with a friend, our feet scuffing the leaves of a changing season. I lamented the difficulty of learning new territory on my own. Of everyone having something to say about it, mostly unhelpful things. Of wishing we knew how to listen for the Spirit. Of wishing someone wiser would teach me.
“Why do you want to know all these things?” he asked, referring to the learning of physiology, band dynamics, warfare.
I talked myself down a couple dead ends until we began to get to the heart of it.
There is a perceived safety in knowing: maybe if knew how my body functions physically, I would be able to determine its relationship with the spiritual. Maybe if I knew how the sound system operates, I wouldn’t mess up the music. Maybe if I knew the technicalities of Satan’s principalities, I could make it through life avoiding pain and trouble. Knowing quickly becomes a functional savior.
I am not after knowing as much as I am after making it through life without failing.
“As you grow in depth and holiness, I see you gathering yourself in,” he said. “It’s like you are holding all these boxes of all you are discovering about yourself, and you’re trying to give them to people, but you can’t lend an arm to hand one off and still carry the others, and you’re trying to get all the labels correct and the boxes in the right order, but you get exhausted and drop them.”
I laughed at the truth of the analogy but teared quickly when he added, “You don’t need anyone to teach you these things. You want people to walk beside you in it because you are incredibly lonely.”
I am not after fathering as much as I am after friendship.
Somewhere along the line, I stepped outside of the Father fathering me, which is the only way I am instructed without fault.
Somewhere along the line, I left his rest, which is the only place I am content.
Somewhere along the line, I abandoned what he says about who I am, which is the only foundation to build on.
Somewhere along the line, I let figuring and knowing be the source of rescue, instead of the Savior who proves himself again and again.
Somewhere along the line, I made Satan a bigger deal than he is.
Somewhere along the line, I rejected people as helpful in a defense of my heart.
Always along the line, grace and love follow me to bring me home.
This morning, it was the light that woke me up.