On Monday morning of this week I woke up from a dream that was extremely realistic and vivid. It’s a recurring dream I’ve had for years, but this was the most detailed and memorable yet. I can’t stop thinking about it.
I can almost smell the french fry grease, and feel the familiar stickiness under the rubber soles of my shoes. I am back at my first high school job, waiting tables at an ice cream shop. In the dream, I take a quick survey of the restaurant, and see that I have guests seated at tables 21, 22, 53, 54, and 55. None of them have been greeted yet, and I know that I have to jump in and start taking care of ALL OF THEM.
I reach into my apron to take out my notepad and start running around taking drink orders and apologizing for the delay. When I run back to the kitchen to pour sodas, I peek my head out and see even more guests seated at new tables. Oh no! Some are checking their watches, obviously perturbed for how long I am taking. One table is getting up to leave.
I rush around in bubbly waitress mode and try to collect orders, explain menu questions, deliver drinks, and navigate the new computer system (obviously it has been upgraded since high school). The computer screen is locked and I can’t remember my old passcode. I eventually get in, and EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT. I can’t find the kids menu, and all of the sundae names have changed in the last 15 years. More tables are expressing their frustration, and I run out and apologize, blaming the delay on the computers/the cooks (when in actuality I haven’t entered one meal into the computer because I can’t figure out the system). I feel panic rising up in my throat. New customers are waiting at the hostess stand and I am literally about to burst with anxiety. Finally, I turn around and see that there are about five other waitresses standing by the ice cream fountain. They aren’t being lazy, as I had assumed earlier in the subconscious of my dream. They just thought I had it all under control. I shout out an exasperated cry for help– “can anyone pick up a table for me?” Three waitresses quickly jump in and begin to help managing the chaos just as I wake up.
When I woke up I was immediately aware of the fact that this dream, this recurring dream of serving at the ice cream parlor in New Jersey, has much deeper meaning than I’ve ever realized before. There are two things God showed me when I woke up and prayed:
1) THAT DREAM is the definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It is not His will for us to live that chaotic, twirling, micro-managing, stressed out life anymore. He has called us to FREEDOM!
2) Freedom is found when we ask others for help. When we recognize that we don’t have to do it on our own anymore, there is relief. When we know that (thank goodness) we are actually not alone, there is comfort and guidance that others can provide. In hearing the story of another person, we get to say “me too” and break the tension of thinking we’re the only one wrestling with darkness.
I’ve shared over the past several months various areas that God has brought/is bringing freedom into my life. Through Christ and with the support of community, I have been set free from:
- depression and hopelessness
- some of my worst tendencies with OCD and anxiety
- abuse, trauma
- extreme people-pleasing and perfectionism
AND, with this freedom, I have also stepped into true joy that permeates my life, even on the hard days. I have been granted compassion for others who are in deep places of sorrow, trauma, divorce, and addiction. I have recognized my calling and purpose to lift up others who are hurting through my voice. I have found hope.
This is the heartbeat of my story, and the heartbeat of this space. I want you to know that:
1) There is freedom to be found in a life surrendered to Christ. He is able to break the chains that you cannot break for yourself.
2) You are not alone. I am a big believer that “vulnerability begets vulnerability” (a favorite Brene Brown quote), and I want to open up a space where you can hear other stories and perspectives than just my own.
Just like I can’t serve everyone in that restaurant by myself, I know that not all of the people who step into this space will resonate with my story. BUT I know that there is still hurt and there are still chains you might be carrying around–I want to help you find freedom.
So here’s the vision: This fall (starting today!!!), I hope you will join me in reading FREEDOM STORIES on the blog each Friday. I have asked some of my favorite writers and some new writing friends if they will join me in sharing where they have found freedom in their life through Christ and authentic community. You will hear from others who have been released from the chaos or burdens that once weighed them down, like substance abuse, false idols, really hard seasons in their marriages, parenting struggles, singleness, shame, disordered eating, and grief. This is a brave tribe of women who are willing to go first and be vulnerable in order to encourage others with their own stories. I’m so excited and hopeful to share these stories of freedom, and I pray that you will join in the hope we have found, too.