Last night I had a very restless night’s sleep. I was having the strangest dreams about visiting family in West Virginia. The dream was like a page out of my past, only instead of being a little boy in my dream, I was the same age I am today.
In that dream, it was as though everyone I had ever known in my life had shown up for one big sleepover. It was an odd mix of pleasure at getting to see beloved family members, and awkwardness, as people from my past mingled, sharing stories.
At 3:37 I awoke, took a small sip of water from the cup on my nightstand, and went back to sleep, hoping the strange dream was over. It wasn’t. Instead, my sleep remained filled by the uncomfortable dream until my internal alarm clock woke me promptly at 5:00.
There was no rolling over for just another minute of slumber this morning. The dream served as all the motivation needed to get me out of bed. So, I kissed Amanda in her sleep, telling her how glad I am that I get to be her husband, and began my morning routine.
When hope came up as my spiritual principle of the day, no topic came to mind for this morning’s writing. I waited and waited, but nothing came to mind. Nothing but the dream.
So, I started writing. It’s an odd phenomenon, but often, I begin writing with no real idea where my words are headed. In that sense, writing has become a form of meditation for me. I write, hoping that God will give me inspiration as I go.
More often than not I find that He prompts me to take a different direction with my writing even as I set out with a story in mind. I can have an entire course plotted out for my morning blog, only to find myself compelled to take the message in a different direction at the last minute.
Some may find it odd that I would credit God with changing the course of my writing, or even charting a course at all. Wouldn’t He have more important things to do?
Well, I believe He does have more important things to do. Likely, He also has things to do that are a lower priority than inspiring me to write. Yet somehow my God is big enough and personal enough to get everything accomplished that He chooses to.
This morning, I believe He has sent me down this path to help me make sense of that weird dream I had. One word describes it best, chaos. Nothing about that dream made sense. Nothing was in the right place or order. Even the house was all messed up. It was like time and space had lost all meaning, along with right and wrong.
After writing about it, my spirit has been calmed. I can see a reason for such a vivid dream. The reason is centered in hope.
That strange dream was my life. It was my memories. It was my history, but with the pages reshuffled. It was the complete mess that my life had become during my days of active drug use. Those were days of total chaos.
Even when I would awaken for brief periods of time, the chaos of addiction quickly returned. Like the characters in my dream who didn’t belong together, my life was full of awkward moments and conflicting values. Time and space, as well as right and wrong had lost their meaning. It was all clouded by the drugs.
Then came hope. Like my internal alarm clock that woke me at 5:00, rescuing me from that dream; hope appeared, offering me a respite from the drugs.
Hope was found when I came to Narcotics Anonymous. Hope showed up when I was told by other recovering addicts that I never had to use again. Hope showed up as I began to work the steps and live a life guided by spiritual principles. Hope continues to show up daily as I stay the course.
The reality is that my life was like that dream. Addiction made it unmanageable and unpredictable. That is the simple truth of my past. It is a past that makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable. It is a past so full of regrets that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. How can I ever reconcile the things I did in light of my values and beliefs? How can I face myself in the mirror?
Hope, that’s how. The hope that I find in the message of NA is that an addict, any addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live. It’s that “new way to live” that gives me hope today.
No, my past is not just a bad dream. It was all real. Yet, because of hope, it can become like a bad dream. Life’s alarm sounded, and once I “woke up” I discovered that I no longer have to be defined by my addiction or my past. Today I am defined by hope, and by a life guided by spiritual principles.
The really great news is that this hope is available to us all. I believe that applies to both addicts and non-addicts. Each of us has the opportunity to put the past behind like a bad dream. Each of us can find hope. Each of us can…
Have a remarkable day!