Updated: Jul 26, 2020
I used to have this reoccurring nightmare that I was being chased by a pack of angry wolves. Every time, I would find myself on an incredibly slippery, freshly waxed kitchen floor wearing socks. It took an incredible effort to run and I could never run fast enough. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon a Far Side comic by Gary Larson depicting a bespectacled, freckly boy attempting to avoid a pack of wolves while running on a waxed kitchen floor. Little had I known that my reoccurring nightmare was something so humanly frequent that it was memorialized in a comic compilation (this fear is called 'luposlipaphobia' in case you were wondering).
Lately that dream feels a little real. No, I am not running away from wolves...and no, my floors are not clean (ever). That running part though, and the feeling of impending doom...that is a little too familiar. Never have I felt so inclined to run away from the possibility of pain, while simultaneously having no power to propel myself out of harms way! Running away from trouble or hardship is a lot like running in socks on a waxed kitchen floor. You feel like you’re doing something about the wolfpack of impending doom but really you’re just running slowing around a kitchen table.
And this waking dream scenario isn’t just because of Covid (although that’s what I usually point the finger at these days) As you well know, pain hits us between the eyes whether there’s a world pandemic or not. Recently my husband and I were faced with a decision to leave a community that we'd been a part of for a long time. The place that had stamped the love of God so firmly on my heart was quickly becoming the place that was breaking it. And like so many others who have lost loved ones without the gift of saying goodbye, we too were deprived of that sacred gift. Pain. Wolves. And me in my slippery fluffy socks.
Don’t even get me started on the pandemic. Has that actually set in for everyone? Say it: World PANDEMIC. This additional threat and the quarantine life that so many of us have been thrust into has also left me feeling helpless at times and running in circles in my slippery socks. And though I am truly truly thankful for the privilege of living in a place where I can shelter in the safety of my own four walls, lately I’ve found myself retreating into the quiet places (if I can find them) where I can’t hear my children calling my name, so desperately searching for that place of rest.
Many have started to feel the long term effects of separation from loved ones or just, other humans. The stress that comes along with fear and a general loss of vitality is something people have been writing about for thousands of years. King David puts it this way In Psalm 38:10, “My heart pounds, my strength fails me, even the light has gone from my eyes.” It's probably fair to say that most, if not all of us, have had moments like this in recent days. So what do we do?
Let’s go back to my reoccurring nightmare…a.k.a. luposlipophobia. I see three options.
Rewind the dream three seconds and simply close the back door to the kitchen. (I mean really…why are there wolves in the kitchen?) The problem with this scenario is that it’s impossible. No matter how much we want to ride a Delorian back to 2019 and stick the murder hornets back on the boat, we can’t. Even if we could, the evils themselves would eventually find us. Turning back time is not an option.
We could wake up. The beautiful part of a dream is that we have the ability to change our circumstances almost immediately. We can wake up to a new reality. The problem here being, reality doesn’t work like dreams. We can’t simply "will" ourselves awake to a different reality. Trying to ignore it or even making up your own reality works temporarily, but this is inevitably short lived and in the long run, much more damaging.
Option 3: (And this is the one I like)
We can take off our socks. We can stop our pointless striving because let’s face it, it’s getting us nowhere really really slowly, and surrender. Not to the evil or pain of course, but rather, surrender to God. He’s the only one strong enough and brave enough to face a pack of wolves successfully. With Him by our side, we can plant our feet confidently on our semi-clean kitchen floors and face whatever evil or disappointment that comes through our backdoor. We are not standing alone, but with the God who felled the giant, the God who parted the sea, and the God who destroyed death, giving us life forever! He can give us the vitality, the courage, and the fervor needed to face whatever wolf pack may come our way. He can handle wolves. Now let's paint our faces blue and say this verse together in our best BraveHeart voice--
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.