No, not a jerk who’s thankfully asleep…this! I’ve had plenty of these before, accompanied with a brief dream of falling. However, a few nights ago, I had a similar experience without the falling sensation or dream…and even now, I still vividly remember the short dream that woke me up with a jolt. This might be strange/creepy/gruesome/morbid, but in my dream there were a bunch of zombies (hahaha) and they had this weird, cancerous growth where there hearts were supposed to be. These growths started ballooning and right when they burst, I woke up. The feeling was exactly the same feeling of a hypnic jerk, and not the feeling of waking up from a nightmare, which hasn’t happened to me since I can remember.
I don’t ever read into my dreams because I consider them to be normal brain processing/defragmentation, but I do tend to read into images that I only see once and can’t forget. I’ve had recurring dreams…such as being chased by a velociraptor, or being inside a pinball machine and bouncing around…but remembering those are to be expected, since they are recurring. But I find it strange when a picture of something randomly pops into your brain, and for the life of you can’t get out of your head, even days, weeks, months, years after the occurrence. There have been times where I have had vivid images of something materialize in my thoughts, even though it was something I had never seen before or ever thought about. I understand how you can experience vivid dreams based off memories in the brain (ex. velociraptor dream after watching Jurassic Park…), but while you are awake, from where in the network of neurons in the brain do you get a such a detailed and complete image of something relatively novel? And then for dreams, almost all of them I forget after a few hours, even if I keep trying to recall them. Yet, these random images seem to be ingrained…so for those reasons, I often wonder what they might mean.
Interestingly, two of the four images that I’ve seen have actually…come true (to some extent). O__O One is of a guy who I barely knew, yet for some reason the same image of him talking to his irreligious younger sister about his own faith kept appearing in my mind. I didn’t know anything about his family, but when I went home and added him on Facebook, I found that he did have a younger sister…and she was in fact irreligious…as in despite her parents’ and brother’s Christian beliefs, she did not consider herself Christian. The second image is of someone who might (but probably not) read this, so I’ll keep it more private, but essentially it was an image of the person in the future being completely different from the way she came into college, and as of this year, the image has pretty much become reality. The third image does not seem like it will actually come into fruition, but something similar to it might. And now, the fourth and most recent image…a zombified, diseased heart exploding…it wasn’t actually bloody or gruesome, it was almost like glass being blown up. I have the feeling that this has something to do with my own heart…and how diseased and sick it has been from various issues in my past. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but recently, I have felt more carefree than I ever have, released from some of those issues, and I tend to wonder if some unknown change has gone on in my heart (soul, mind, conscience, whatever you want to call it).
Thanks for reading my story :)
“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” - Matthew 9:17 NIV
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” - 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” - Romans 6:6-7 NIV
First day of break and coming back to my house from a friend’s birthday dinner. Driving home alone, walking around the house silently to not wake up my parents, having little to do at home besides get on the computer and peruse the standard websites (Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, guitar gear). I felt an immense emptiness weighing down my every action. As emo and depressing as that sounds, I believe there is a very good reason why I ought to have felt that way. That emptiness, I realized, was the feeling of a life devoid of my God. It was an absence of purpose…without it, I had no desire to live for anyone or anything but myself, out of my inherent selfish nature, yet paradoxically, there was little reason for me to live for myself.
In this absence of purpose then, I was left with an emptiness that I could not fill by my own powers. Let me digress for a moment…I strongly feel that as humans, we are inherently selfish, and despite all the claims one can try to make for true altruism, I do not believe, while we remain alive in our physical bodies (the “flesh”), we can act fully, 100%, out of selflessness. And it is also my belief that only Christianity provides a way for true selflessness. (I will admit, I am very limited in my knowledge of other religions and belief systems, but my understanding of selflessness in Christianity is enough to trust that no other belief can substantiate such selflessness without being a “copy” of Christianity, and no other beliefs seem to be said “copy”.)
Back to my point (somewhat)…I remember one time a friend told me that a Bible on my phone is terrible and I always needed a physical Bible. I’m still not sold on that…but anyhow, I did not have space in my one backpack of luggage to store my huge NIV study Bible, so I did not take it. When I wanted to just read random passages tonight, obviously I would not be able to flip to a random book/chapter/verse like I could if I had had a physical Bible. Nevertheless, when I went to Bible Gateway to try to find a chapter, I didn’t even try to think of anything, but very clearly Matthew 7 stuck out in my head. (Maybe subconscious thought processing, since I know we had a sermon on Matthew 7 a while back.) And while reading Matthew 7, the thought of Galatians 6 kept running through my mind. Funnily, I was wondering if there was a Galatians 6 even, since I felt like it always stopped after chapter 5.
Okay now really back to my point…the reason why I felt this emptiness (ie. devoid of God), I think, was because I had been seriously barricading God out of many aspects of my life this past quarter. First on the plate, judging others, which just happens to be what the beginning of Matthew 7 talks about (hmm…). I always feel like I have my problems with HMCC (aka Harvest). And actually, I was intent on leaving or at least taking a break from it come sophomore year, but something always held me back from doing so. During worship, I could not help but wonder if those people passionately singing with their arms raised did so out of habit, out of conformity, out of expectation, rather than true passion, and if the rest of their lives truly matched up to the words they sang. The same for prayer. Yet, Matthew 7 spoke clearly to me YOU HYPOCRITE (Matthew 7:5). How dare I doubt the faith of anyone else when I know full well the struggles and failures that plague my own faith? How dare I accuse anyone else of a facade of passion when I do not even have such a facade to cover up my own lack of passion at times? I always knew it was wrong, to judge. Yet I always justified myself thinking I knew more, I knew better, I would not raise my arms because I knew how easily I could just do it out of the reasons I listed previously. I judged because I considered myself better. And again, pride, the “great sin” that CS Lewis so accurately identified, was seeping into my life.
Next, “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). This verse pops up constantly in my mind as I realize how easy it is to veer off in the wrong direction, to step off the path for just a little bit and not even realize it…to the point that you may plead “‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’” but Jesus will respond to you “‘I NEVER knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’” (Matthew 7:22-23). It is not about the actions, but the heart behind them. Yes, cliche, but cliches are cliche because they are too often true. Surprisingly, Galatians, the other passage that I really felt like I should read, talks about this too (hmm…): “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” (Galatians 6:15). I can proclaim being a “saved Christian” all I want, I can blog about these things all I want, I can post quotes and lyrics that make it seem like I’m so holy, but the only truth that matters is whether my actions are the consequences of a changed character, a “new creation”, or again, out of habit, out of conformity, out of expectation. Wow, I’m glad Religion 170 actually taught me useful things like Durkheim and his idea of religion being a mask for community.
Lastly, building my “house upon the rock” instead of on “sand”. Freshman year was characterized by many things but I think the memory that stands out the most was a moment in time when I really felt like I didn’t believe in God anymore. The “rain came down”; I felt cold, tired, annoyed at my circumstances. The “streams rose”; I was fearful at the ideas and concepts outside of Christianity that were whisking my heart away. The “winds blew and beat against [my] house, and it fell with a great crash”. (Matthew 7:27). For a moment, I sat there thinking to myself…”What do I do now?” but for whatever reason, despite all the doubts I was having up until that point, I was able to realize a truth that I still hold onto today, and that was the idea of true selflessness only coming from God. This sand that I had built my faith upon was comprised of many things…apologetics, worship music, wanting to serve, and belonging to a community. Slowly, I’ve been weaning myself off those things, but they can still be pitfalls when times are tough.
So far, sophomore year has been tough, wanting so much to live out what I believe, yet feeling burdened and held back by classes and my own apathy. A lot of people I know slipped away from community their sophomore years with Bio and Orgo, and I think knowing that has allowed me to accept being anti-social as the norm. It shouldn’t be though…once again, lofty goals and dreams for the next quarter, but I’m not sure if I can really meet them.
*Will proofread later…
…am I going to have to feel this burden before I finally act upon it? It reminds me of the How I Met Your Mother episode where Marshall wants to jump to the other building but every time he brings himself to try, he backs down at the last moment. Is it fear? Is it doubt? As a side note…what goes on in the brain that causes such indecision?