I didn't know which category this would fall into. It actually has elements from several, so I just left the little identifying disc off. Hope that doesn't offend anyone.
I have never had much use for dreams. I don't mean the life aspirations kind of dreams. "I have a dream to be a late night talk show host." Those are useful - rarely realized - but useful. I mean the kind of dreams that invade your mind, wrecking an otherwise peaceful sleep. Some people dream all the time. It's usually really vivid stuff. And they can remember almost all of them the next morning. My wife and daughter are both like this. Every morning they can give you a rundown of their dreams. I'm not like this. I guess I dream like most people, but I rarely can remember them the next day. I'm talking maybe once a month. (Until recently, when it has been happening almost daily.) So when I do, they are usually very vivid and/or troubling dreams. And my mind has trouble differentiating between what happens in my dream and real life. So I'll wake up all upset or scared for no good reason. Fun stuff.
Most of my dreams are troubling. It is almost like my mind dips into all the stuff that scares the crud out of me and creates a movie out of it. There have been dreams about losing the kids. A large number of my dreams involve me getting into a fight or getting attacked. I'll get into huge arguments with people - ones that have massive ramifications within my dream world. And, I guess this is normal, I'm naked a lot in my dreams. Like, when I shouldn't be. I'll be running around trying to hide myself while at the United Nations to argue with someone. Weird stuff like that.
I have had very memorable dreams where I got into a big knock down, drag out fight with a work superior that I was having trouble with in real life. That is always a problem. You wake up and are all wary of the person when you get to work. My mind is on hyper-alert with that person - all because in the dream I finally unloaded all the stuff that I had bottled up in real life. Even now, I'll have dreams involving massive showdowns with former pastors, bosses, nemeses - usually they are people that I didn't feel resolved with when they left my daily interactions. I'll be all irritated at them all over again - only they are peacefully doing their daily routine five hours away.
It's always weird who ends up in a dream. Completely random. Like, I won't think about a person for years. Then one night, WHAM, they are there running around with me trying to overthrow some evil overlord. And my mind has the ability to come up with some wacky stuff. Back when I was in elementary school, I had this horrible nightmare where I was getting attacked by all these weird monsters. The one that absolutely freaked me out was this guy who had what looked like a dryer hose coming out of his suit where his neck and head should be. (Kind of like Chairface Chippendale from The Tick, but a dryer hose instead of a chair.) But, it was really a big vacuum hose, and it actually would suck things towards him. I always called him Vacuum Cleaner Man. It was horrifying. And the worst thing is that I took one of my infrequent weekend naps that day and the stupid dream picked up right where it left off the night before. Back to running away from Vacuum Man. (Must have been generated by my extreme hatred of housework.)
I very rarely have happy dreams. But I did have one the other day. It was like I was watching a "Behind the Music" show - one of those television documentaries. It was about Steve Burns, from Blue's Clues. Of course, it also was a melding of other shows - like Bob the Builder. Steve was narrating the show. He was talking about how the show had been going well. Then he said, "But things were about to get tougher. Little did they know the controversy that would soon erupt. What was the problem? Take a look at this video and you'll see." Then a clip started to play. Blue was riding down a hill on a sled. Steve came running up from behind and jumped on the sled and they raced down the snow. Trees and houses were whipping along behind, and then there was a flash of orange for just a second. "Did you see it? If we slow it down, you'll see what many people perceived as a cross in the background." The film slowed down as they passed the orange and, sure enough, it was a weirdly shaped orange cross. "People soon began to accuse Steve of the unthinkable - that he was claiming to be . . . Jesus Christ." (What?!?) Steve continued in that typical overly emphatic voice that narrators use. "Many people found this accusation ridiculous. And Steve, of course, denied it. But, little did they know . . . that Steve . . . had the twelve apostles in his backyard . . . as lawn chairs." And it cut to a series of pictures showing his backyard. Sure enough, there were a whole bunch of molded plastic chairs that looked like caricatures of the Twelve Apostles. Their arms formed the arms, their legs were the front two legs, their face was the upper back of the chair, and the rest of the chair looked like robes. They showed Peter, John, James. Then I woke up. I had to laugh at that whole thing.
A lot of people have sexy dreams. (Uh, oh, where is this going?) It is pretty common. And, according to dream analysts, they don't mean anything. This type is not as frequent for me as other types. Sometimes, an element of that will take place when I am running around naked trying to fight ninjas. You know, like in the movies where two people in extreme danger find time to make whoopie. Like there isn't anything better they could be doing to prepare for the impending doom. But, my strong sense of inner morality always short circuits those sections. That has been the case since I was a teenager. Very strange - like a subconscious dream purity ring.
I think the worst dreams are the ones that involve things that are so close to life that it takes supreme effort to convince myself it didn't happen. A few months back, I had a dream where my good friend and ministry partner Charles and I had a really ugly fight. It was nasty. At the end of the dream, we ended up disbanding Defender Ministries and swearing to never talk to each other. I had such a hard time the next day that Heather had me call Charles, just so my mind could reboot. I felt stupid, but it worked.
The reason that I was even thinking about all of this was because last night I had a rough dream. My family and my in-laws were all at some big fancy house (kind of like the one in Modern Family last night). We were waiting for some guests to arrive. And I was all excited because everyone was going to see how much weight I had lost. I was nervous all day, so I kept munching on food. Mostly it was just almonds. But I also drained a container of cheese balls. (I HATE cheese balls. But the kids had some the other day, so that must be where that came from.) Finally, the other people showed up. My Aunt Dee was there (but in a wheelchair). And there were several other people too. I came running down the circular staircase without a shirt on (but, oddly, not completely naked). And they all criticized me because I hadn't lost enough weight. They thought they would be more impressed. And, cue alarm clock.
Needless to say, I felt pretty bad about myself when I woke up. I try not to take too many messages from dreams. I think they are so wacky that you could drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what was going on. Or you could come up with some bizarre conclusions that really would mess you up if you tried to apply them. But I am pretty sure that our insecurities in life do seep into our dreams. Maybe that's why I'm always naked - I'm afraid that people will see me for what I really look like. I know if I am troubled that I will often have more vivid troubling dreams. (Hmmm, I've had those every day this week. I wonder what that says.) I don't know what I should take from last night's dream. Maybe I am afraid that even after all this work, that other people still see me as a big fat failure. Maybe I'm worried that I am going to start eating things I shouldn't. Maybe it was nothing more than the turkey last night didn't sit well.
Fortunately, battling dreams isn't a whole lot different than battling my own perceptions. I frequently will assume that people around me are thinking something about me or secretly judging me. "Hey look at that fat guy. Man, he's fat. And what's he thinking wearing THOSE shoes?" In reality, they probably didn't even realize I was there. They were too busy worrying that everyone was judging THEM. Part of my food addiction efforts has been convincing myself that what I think other people are saying about me, is actually what I am saying about myself. So I have to fight my inner dialogue (which, trust me, can be more vicious than anything anyone else would say to me). When I start in on myself, I have to fight those statements with truth. And that is the same thing I have to do with dreams. Because, let's face it, neither perceptions nor dreams have anything to do with reality. Now if I can just find a way to stay dressed...