The week before Christmas 2017 I had a dream about an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to in about 30 years. My dream was surprisingly vivid as I seldom remember them and this dream was crisp and my friends’ features were clear. It was as though I could have felt the warmth of her skin had I reached out and touched her.
She was a close friend in the early 1980s when I lived in Minneapolis. She had a soft spoken voice, she taught me how to play the mandolin and we laughed a lot together. We were actively involved in church and spent a lot of time together within our Christian singles group. We loved bluegrass music and occasionally visited a little dive near downtown Minneapolis where they played live bluegrass.
Our true friendship began late one afternoon on a drive from a Christian singles gathering in the suburbs of Minneapolis. As we drove back towards the city we passed a field of cows. I randomly said out loud, “I love cows”, and she jumped back with a gleeful “So do I!” We laughed at the silliness of our mutual love of cows and that was the beginning of a great friendship.
As the years passed we lost touch after I moved to Florida, got married and lived the busy life of work and raising a family. Now, over 30 years later, with a plethora of life events behind us I had this dream about her. It was a short dream where we were discussing laundry – of all things! I told her that I didn’t always keep up with my laundry when she replied, “You should do your laundry every day. You shouldn’t leave it sitting around. I do mine every day.” Then it was over and I woke up.
I laughed at the silliness of it, remembering she hadn’t been one to keep up with her laundry at all. Then I wondered what she may be going through and if she needed prayer. Throughout my life I’ve had vivid dreams about specific people, which led me to pray for them. So I began to pray for her and felt a strong prompting to call her.
It was the week before Christmas and the scurrying of preparing caused me to postpone the call. When I made the call a few days later her answering machine picked up and I heard her familiar voice. I left a message letting her know that I wanted to reconnect.
On New Year’s Day I called her again and after the excitement of reconnecting I told her about my dream. We laughed over the silliness of it as she confessed her laundry often piled up. We moved on to discussing our lives and that we had both lost our dads in the past year. We reminisced about the church we attended together and the people we hung around with back then.
Then she asked if she could share something with me and told me that when we were friends back in the 80s that she wasn’t really a Christian and she hadn’t really known Jesus as her Savior. She had walked the walk, but wasn’t living out a Christian life. She lived that way until nine years ago when she was burned out and took a leave of absence from her job. She thought a month of rest would help her get back on her feet so she could resume a better, happier life.
Her time off was restful and she felt better than she had in a long time. Then the day before she was to return to work she realized she would go back to work and that nothing had really changed at all. She still had all of the same issues that brought her to a place of unhappiness with her life.
It was then that she realized that if something was going to change it had to be within her. That’s when she prayed, “I can’t do this alone anymore, Jesus. I need you to come into my life and change me.” She said she began by confessing her sins and asking for forgiveness. It wasn’t a big event; it was the simple act of asking Jesus to help her change and committing her life to follow him. I felt honored that she would share such a deep part of her life with me.
I shared with her how I was at a place in my life where I was tired of striving. I was tired of constantly struggling for a better way of life, thinking about how I could earn more money, and how to be truly happy and content with my life. I desired to lean more on God and less on my own capabilities.
She said it was like Galatians 2:20 and she read to me: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. I agreed that I needed to lean more into Him to achieve more peace and allow more of the Jesus within me to lead rather than taking it all on myself.
We continued sharing about our lives and were both happy to have connected again. After we said our good-byes I giggled to myself about the dream of dirty laundry and thanked God that I had made the call.
A couple days later as I sat at my desk writing this story, I glanced at a message on my bulletin board: I Surrender All. I questioned myself if I had really surrendered – my anxiety, my constant striving, my mental health challenges, my children, or my marriage. The familiar words of the song came to my mind:
All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live
I surrender all, I surrender all, all to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all
Was I really surrendering it all to God? Did I really trust God in all of these things or was I trying to orchestrate it all myself? Was I really trying to live in his presence daily?
Then my thoughts went back to the conversation with my friend and her desire to change and ask forgiveness for her sins. We’re all sinners, its part of our human nature. Jesus’ message to us when he came to earth was to confess our sins, to repent, to have the desire to change. But how long had it been since I had exercised that part of my Christian walk? What part did it play in my faith, my relationship with God, my happiness or my success?
My mind was telling me that I didn’t have a lot to confess. I’m not in any type of sexual sin or doing anything physically immoral. Then I realized that my sin wasn’t physical, it was in my thoughts – anger, accusations, judging, and self-condemnation. Those were the things that I needed to confess. Those were the things that were keeping me from truly living a free life. They weren’t acts of sin visible to others, but certainly visible to God. And that type of sin was deteriorating my life.
That’s when it hit me. The dream wasn’t about my friend at all – it was about me coming to a place in my life where I’m doing my spiritual laundry every day – confessing my sin daily – coming clean with God continually.
I had forgotten that the reason God sent Jesus to earth and allowed him to be sacrificed for my sins was so that I could lay all of my burdens of sin at his feet and be freed from the guilt and condemnation of my own human actions. I had forgotten that my relationship with God wasn’t for His benefit, it was for mine.
I’m in a searching mode – but not in a striving mode. Just asking for God’s wisdom to lead me through every step of my life and surrendering like I haven’t done in 30 years. It’s a very freeing experience.
I’m grateful for the dream. It gave me the prompting I needed to call an old friend, to hear her story and to awaken me to a new chapter in my life.
I’m now studying about God’s plan of forgiveness. As I learn – I will share.