I had an interesting dream last night and thought I would share, partly just because I found it weird and wonder what it meant, and partly because I think maybe there was a pearl of wisdom to be found in it about race relations.
In the dream my family and I were scared because a tornado was announced to be coming straight at our home. We don’t have a basement, so we ran to the neighbors’ house to beg them to take us in and give us shelter in their basement. The first family we asked said no. Interestingly, they were the same race as we were in the dream. The second family (a white couple with a baby) agreed, and not only did they take us in, but they offered to take in another family as well.
Now, at this point it is necessary to say that while I am about as white as you can get in real life, in the dream, myself and all my family were black, and it didn’t seem the slightest bit odd or out of place that our race had changed. The other family our neighbors agreed to take in was black as well. I remember looking around at all of us gathered together and thinking that the white couple was probably uncomfortable around that many black people. Weird thought to have, but it is honestly what I thought in the dream.
While we were all huddling together in the basement, the tornado hit and it was an experience I will never forget. It was SO painful physically. The force of the noise and the vibration was agonizing. In the dream all of us started screaming simply to try to release some of the tension in our heads and bodies from the vibration and furious sounds. I have no idea if that is what a real tornado is like or not, but it shocks me even now to think of how much it hurt in the dream and how vicious it was. It almost makes me wonder if past lives are a real thing, and if they are, if I didn’t endure a tornado in a past life. Maybe someone out there can tell me if that is anything like what a real tornado feels like.
That was pretty much the end of the dream. We all survived and the damage wasn’t really that bad to the house. But the whole race relations thing has been niggling at me all day. I feel there is something profound there for me to learn. If you want to take a shot at dream interpretation, please feel free to give it a shot in the comments!
To churches and church folks everywhere:
Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories from fellow chronic pain/chronic illness sufferers about mistreatment at the hands of the church or church people. Some of these people even end up losing their faith or abandoning church altogether because they are hurt so badly by the apathy or mistreatment they feel from their spiritual family. I myself have experienced some similar things in the past and I would like to make a few requests for all churchgoers to consider, especially those in leadership positions:
- Please don’t ignore or mistreat those in your church with chronic illness or chronic pain conditions. Don’t think that just because they can’t always make it to church or participate in activities that they don’t want to. Don’t accuse them of just being lazy, selfish or antisocial.
- Please do reach out to them by making a quick call, a short visit, connecting on social media or dropping a card in the mail once in awhile. If you have never had a long-term chronic illness or injury, you may not know how lonely, depressing and rough it can be.
- Don’t think or comment that since they don’t look sick on the outside, they must not be sick or hurting. Many illnesses and injuries are invisible and even if a person doesn’t look like they are in pain, it doesn’t mean they aren’t. Many of us get so used to the pain that we don’t normally talk about it or even show it on our face anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t felt.
- Remember that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can be just as devastating and debilitating as a physical illness. Also remember that depression and anxiety often accompany a chronic physical illness or injury, which can compound the problem and make it even harder for a person to function normally.
- Don’t play doctor and tell us what you think is “really” wrong with us or tell us what we need to do to “fix” ourselves. Your intentions may be good, but most likely we have already visited various health professionals and tried anything and everything to try to fix the problem and find relief. If you constantly tell us what we “should” be doing, it can make us feel like it is our fault we are sick or in pain because we aren’t doing enough to try to solve the problem, which is normally entirely untrue. And NEVER insinuate that our illness/injury is caused by a lack of faith or that God is “punishing” us for one reason or another. First of all, that isn’t your judgement to make. Would you want to hear that when you are suffering? Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.
- Lastly, try to find a way to “include” us even when we can’t be there. Share photos on FB or by email with us of events we had to miss. If we can’t make it to a special dinner, bring us by a doggy bag of the yummy food we missed. Let us know we are missed, but don’t try to make us feel guilty for what we can’t help.