My husband, Christopher, and I are in our bedroom, very interested in something other than sleeping. Suddenly, doors magically appear in the walls of our bedroom and people begin pouring in and milling about, wanting to interact with us. I scream, “Get out!! Get out of our bedroom!” but to no avail. They persist.
Welcome to my recurring nightmare. It began some time during our third year of coordinating Living Waters, while caring for our two young sons and coping with Christopher’s three part-time jobs.
When he suggested that I consider attending the Living Waters training in San Juan Capistrano, I secured my plane ticket and rental car reservation in less than 15 minutes. “I don’t have to give anything to anyone? You’ll cover the kids? California in February?” I was all over it.
About a week later, I wondered if I had made a huge mistake. It occurred to me that though I knew how to give well, I wasn’t so fluent in receiving. What if I “lost it” at the training? What if the team felt that I was unqualified to be coordinating? What if my small group leader was significantly younger and less experienced than me?
My pride kicked in and tried to cover up my insecurities. Hadn’t we just finished our 3rd successful LW program? Weren’t we doing pretty well training and raising up leaders? Wasn’t I making progress in dealing with my own issues? Christopher gently prodded me to consider that, even with this measure of God’s blessing, perhaps there might be more for me.
And frankly, I needed more. The very things that gave me pause about going were the reasons I needed to go. Yes, the ministry was off to a great start and our marriage continued to grow deeper and more satisfying. But, behind the scenes when no one was paying attention, I knew there remained within me a reservoir of fear that had not been drained. Early in life, I found my place within our family unit by taking care of everyone. While caretaking is an admirable trait and has its place, by focusing on others, I had circumvented my own needs – hence, the crowded bedroom in my dreams.
During the training, God met me in more ways than I have space to recount. I had the privilege of sitting under wonderful, more experienced, small group leaders. The team modeled compassionate truth telling while extending the love and grace of Jesus. (This was worth the cross country trip in and of itself!) I “lost it” multiple times which totally liberated something inside of me.
More importantly, God began the process of freeing me from my deeply rooted fear of abandonment. God revealed to me that ministering out of my need for acceptance was neither sustainable nor wise. Furthermore, I would lack authenticity in such ministry if I neglected to go after my healing. This revelation has not only allowed me to serve more freely and joyfully, it’s cleared out our bedroom. I haven’t had that nightmare in more than two years.