Early this morning, earlier than usual, around 3, I awoke. Stirred from sleep by a troubling dream. The scene. A courtroom. I was on trial for failing to be the best me I could be. I stood alone, anxious, praying for a lawyer.
More than once, I’ve had (I wonder whether others – many? most? – have had) this dream. Always it rouses me. Always in the middle of the night. Always with a memory that I’ve done something I shouldn’t or I’ve left undone something I should. Always making me newly aware of an inner separation between the person I want (or believe I was meant) to be and the person I am. A separation so deeply internal that I can’t fathom how far it runs; only that it cuts through every aspect of my life. A separation so timelessly inherent that I can’t know whence it began; only that, as far as I can remember, it always was. A separation revealed in every disconnection between my good intentions and my less than noble actions. A separation demanding that I condemn myself.
I arose from bed, retired to my study, pulled a Bible from my shelf, and poured over Paul’s words: “Who will bring a charge against us? Christ Jesus intercedes for us” (Romans 8.33, 34). I found renewed comfort in the apostle’s testimony that I have a divine attorney. I continued reading: “I am convinced that…(nothing can) separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8.38-39).
Ah, love. The attorney. How simple and profound, and how real and true to my experience!
I thought about moments when another, in her/his very human being and doing, incarnating Paul’s witness to the work of Christ Jesus, loved me with:
- Kindness (kinship) that, with no thought or desire for repayment, went out of its way to help me;
- Patience that did more than tolerate me, but genuinely accepted and celebrated my God-given human dignity (even when I felt sadly odd or different and especially when I acted in less than dignified ways!);
- Forgiveness that sought to soothe a wrong done and to salvage our shattered relationship.
And I thought about moments when I had shown to, for, and with another this same kindness, patience, and forgiveness.
Dreams, haunting in their power to evoke, provoke guilt and shame, will come. Thank goodness, thank God that love that “bears…believes…hopes…endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13.7) stays.