Q: The other night I had a dream that I got back together with my ex boyfriend. I have been having similar dreams every night since then and have been offering it up to God every night. Am I crazy, still caught up in my feelings for him, or could God be trying to tell me something? I don’t even know what to think!
I’m a vivid dreamer. Just the other night I had a dream that I came down a huge water slide at a water park, and what should greet me at the bottom? Four furry, white polar bears chilaxin’ in the water. Petrified, I tried to inch my way back up the slide–slowly, trying not to alert the giant bears in the water of my existence–but if you’ve ever tried going up a slippery water slide… yeah, not so successful. Why would four wild polar bears be swimming at a waterpark? Because they were part of a toilet paper company’s marketing campaign, of course. The polar bears were modeling rolls of 2-ply for the masses. Naturally, I asked if I could score some free toilet paper… we were running low at the house.
Granted, your dream is way cooler than mine! But my run-in with the polar bears does bring up an interesting point: If we’re going to find meaning in our dreams, which dreams do we choose? If every dream had meaning, I’d be a hot mess every morning! Sheez– I’ve had dreams about everything from losing a child to getting back together with my high school ex! I’ve come to the conclusion that most dreams are just random melting pots of our experiences, desires and fears.
I say most because sometimes God does speak to people through their dreams. We see a few examples of it in Scripture (like Pharaoh’s dreams about the cows and corn, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the multi-layered statue, or Joseph’s dream warning him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt). I would never limit God by saying that He never speaks to people through dreams today. I believe He does. But it’s not all that common. And I have a feeling that if He did have a message for us in our sleep, we would know it. Like, without a doubt.
So what should we do with those vivid dreams we have, when they feel sooo real, or when we have the same dream over and over?
I think this verse in the book of Job holds the answer:
For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.
He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they lie in their beds…
He makes them turn from doing wrong;
he keeps them from pride.
– Job 34:14-17
I’ll say it again: I don’t think every dream we have is God trying to get our attention. But because I’ve been plagued by some pretty gnarly dreams in my life, I have turned this verse into a question. When I wake up from a particularly vivid dream–good or bad–I ask myself, “What can I learn from that dream that will keep me from 1) doing something stupid, or 2) thinking I’m all that?” It’s amazing how many dreams can remind or teach me something about myself or about God. Looking at our dreams that way is like looking for life lessons while you watch a movie or read a novel. You look at the made-up story and ask yourself, “What can I learn from it in my real life?” Stories are great teachers, and dreams are a lot like stories!
So back to your question. Is your recurring dream about getting back together with your ex God’s way of telling you it’s going to happen? I wish it was, but probably not. Can you learn something from those dreams that can help you move forward in real life? Absolutely! Maybe it’s as simple as knowing that it is possible for you to feel hope and joy again after feeling so broken, or maybe it’s an opportunity for you to pray for your ex when you wake up. Ask God what lessons you can suck out of those dreams and see where He leads you!
As for me and my polar bear dream, at least it reminded me to add “toilet paper” to my shopping list this week! 😉