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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Nightmare & Rest

What do you dream about? At night, I mean. Do you remember your dreams, or do you quickly forget them? Have you ever heard from God in your sleep?

My nighttime dreams seem to fall into three categories:



& God Dreams

I’m pretty sure my most recent dream fell solidly into category #2. Here is what I remember…

I was in my library gathering notes and thoughts for what I hoped would be a productive day. After a long series of road trips I was ready to start wrapping my mind around a newly declared season of “full time writing and speaking.” (Thus far the dream was mirroring the current state of my actual life.) And then. A knock on the door. Waiting on the other side was a woman I did not recognize, who introduced herself as a social worker. She arrived on our doorstep unannounced to deliver a seriously high-pressure and completely unexpected request. Two little boys in her care needed foster parents ASAP, and Kyle and I had been selected. Nothing about this request seemed optional. In my dream this woman claimed to represent God himself who had chosen my weary husband and me as the ONLY solution for this desperate situation. Compliance was assumed.

Now. At this point anyone who knows our adoption story might see this as an obvious flashback to a former season. But in true dream fashion, there’s a wacky subplot. Next thing I know a former co-worker shows up at my door. (The only way I can explain Maria’s appearance in my nocturnal thoughts is that she’d recently commented on a Facebook post.) This acquaintance, whom I’d not seen in a number of years, stopped by with a message. “You and Kyle are perfect for these boys because you will allow them to drink pop.” As in soda-pop. I know right?! And although this dream comment sounds completely bizarre and admittedly unhealthy, I immediately knew how to apply it. My husband and I were being commended for our (perhaps somewhat accurate) ability to practice grace in difficult situations.

Continuing the downward spiral. At this point in my dream-soon-to-turn-nightmare I was preparing to meet our two potential charges who were waiting for me downstairs. I descended the staircase of my actual home, asking if the boys would like to play with the small basket of toys I keep on hand for my grandchildren. Which is when I was met by a horrifying discovery. The lower level of my house had been transformed into Walmart. An actual Walmart, except with a nightmarish twist. This space which was formerly my oh-so-organized home was now wall-to-wall cluttered with toys. And every single piece of every single plaything had been dumped from its packaging and scattered willy-nilly in a truly horrifying chaotic plastic mess.

Seriously. At this point anyone reading this post with even an inkling of personal connection to its author must surely be drawing some fairly accurate psychoanalytical conclusions.

Me too. Yikes.

Let me take a quick stab at what I believe my dream is and isn’t revealing. (And if any of y’all sense the Spirit leading you to a different analysis, I'd be open to hearing your interpretations!)

I’ll start with isn’t. Which is to say the dream isn’t about having a social worker show up at our door with two more dependents. Now… if this had been my husband’s nightmare… then YES we might certainly assume this precise explanation. But unlike my beloved spouse I do not carry the stress of being overly responsible for other humans. No. My psychosis is something else altogether.

Apparently. When I am exhausted (from back to back to back road trips) and I am overloaded (from the mental and emotional stimulation of too many wonderful professional opportunities) and I am overbooked (with a jam-packed calendar during my desperately hoarded dog-days-of-summer) then apparently stress comes knocking at my door in the form of

Walmart! Lol. Keep reading…

I remember clearly in my dream that I repeatedly wondered how I would ever accomplish my “writing and speaking goals” while taking care of two young children. I remember thinking, “This always happens. Everyone needs something from me, because no one thinks I am actually working.” I even remember that in my dream I was holding tentatively to my go-to prayer, “God, I trust you.” I figured I had no choice but to step into this chaos holding out hope God would get me through it.

Analyze that.


Switching gears for a minute.

I recently purchased a book while attending a writers’ conference. A conference which is admittedly at least partially responsible for my current state of subconscious stress. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith was my hands-down favorite instructor at the conference. (I must also add, her 3-day course on "Being Your Own Publicist" is ironically responsible for more than half of the tasks on my current to-do list.) That said. Here are a couple of quotes from the opening chapter of Dr. Saundra’s Sacred Rest:

Have you ever tried to fix your chronically tired self by purposely sleeping a few extra hours on the weekend, only to wake up feeling like you’ve never rested at all? You had great intentions, but missed one vital piece of the puzzle: Sleep is not rest. As different parts of an intricate system, sleep and rest are designed to work together to ensure every part of you has a way to regenerate and restore.

Sleep is different from rest, but good-quality sleep trickles down from a life well rested. We may sleep in response to rest, but resting doesn’t require us to be in a state of sleep. Sometimes…sleep is not restful at all.

Point taken.

A few weeks ago I went to my annual physical exam asking one burning question: Why am I so tired all the time? My physician asked a few questions, requested some bloodwork, and assured me I am in a perfectly normal state of good health.

BUT… there’s another doctor who wrote a book that seems to answer my question with a far more helpful explanation. Dr. Saundra describes meeting with patients who complain of being tired or fatigued, and she immediately assumes far more than a physical explanation. Sacred Rest explores seven categories: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, sensory, and creative. The author provides a quiz to help the reader identify their unique “rest deficit.” I took the quiz (and so should you) and my results were laugh-out-loud-spot-on. It turns out I am currently desperate for two types of rest:

Sensory and Mental

Nailed it. Chuckling to myself as I think of my wacky but oh-so-revealing dream.

Last evening Kyle and I took our kayaks out on the lake for the very first time this season. And almost immediately I was overwhelmed by a sensation of wholistic decompression. My mind uncluttered. My body relaxed. I could feel the tension leaving my body as I floated on water. Receiving. Recovering. Reclaiming.


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