I usually have a pretty good handle on my fears. When they crop up, I try very hard to take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. My what-ifs turn to prayers, sometimes as simple as, “Jesus, no.” Other times, when the fearful thoughts assault me and won’t go away, I recite scripture, reminding myself of truth. And God calms my heart. It works every time.
When I’m awake.
But those fears crop up when I’m sleeping, and they come out in the weirdest ways.
For example, the other night, I dreamed I was driving through a prairie with my three teenagers in the car. The prairie was filled with cows and horses and birds and all sorts of other animals—sort of like you’d picture the African Savannah, but in Oklahoma. I felt pretty secure in my car. Then we came upon a pack of buffaloes in the middle of the road.
I had to stop, of course. Even dream-Robin isn’t dumb enough to drive into a pack of thousand-pound animals.
So we stopped, and then, out of nowhere, one of them climbed in my open window. It was a baby. I knew this because it was smaller than the others. And of course, it was pink.
(When I told my husband about the dream the next morning, I explained that it wasn’t bright pink. It was more a brownish pink.
“Like a hot dog?” he asked.
“No. More like its fur was brown on the inside, but had a pinkish tone on the ends.”
“So it was a buffalo with frosted tips?”
I don’t think he was taking my dream seriously.)
So there I was, pinned to my seat with a buffalo on my lap, and I was screaming for the kids to help me. But they didn’t help at all. I didn’t see what they were doing (I was busy with the buffalo, obviously), but I imagine they were taking video on their phones to text their friends. Then the buffalo started biting my fingers. (That might have had more to do with my arthritis, but that’s a story for another blog.) I finally managed to shove the buffalo out of the car, but more were coming in the other windows.
My kids were oblivious.
I was still trying to get the windows closed when I woke up.
Okay, I admit, it sounds kind of silly in retrospect, but imagine how you’d feel with a buffalo on your lap, snacking on your fingers.
After I washed my hands to get off the imaginary slobber, I analyzed the dream. The worst part was my three teenagers in the car, watching me fight but not helping. And the fact that my husband wasn’t there. I felt like I was trying to protect my kids from all the evils in the world, and I was alone. It felt so real, and the feelings I felt were so authentic. Me against the world. And I was losing.
But the dream was a lie. Yes, I am trying to protect my kids from evil. And yes, sometimes it feels like the evils are closing in like the buffaloes in my dream. But I am not alone. My husband is with me. My kids are not oblivious to the buffaloes….er, dangers in the world. And we have God on our side.
Fear is a feeling, and feelings aren’t to be trusted. Feelings are a result of thoughts, and thoughts are so often wrong. That’s why God tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). That’s why He admonishes us to focus on the things that are true, right, noble, pure, lovely, excellent, and praise worthy. (Philippians 4:8) We cannot control our feelings, but we can control what causes them, our thoughts.
When we’re awake, anyway.
What’s your strategy for dealing with fear?
Had any weird dreams you’d like to share?
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.
More about Finding Amanda:
Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her.
But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection.
Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.