A Better Way Forward
A Dream: End of the World
In a dream I had as a young man I was walking down a steep hill in my hometown, and it was apparently the end of the world. Meteors were falling from the sky, and the poplars that used to grow on the valley floor were bent over with the waters of a great flood. I continued walking and came to a little church halfway down the hill. I walked inside and fell prostrate on the stairway between the first and second floors.
I told this dream to someone I trusted, and they said the Lord was telling me always to stick close to the body of Christ and to God and to take care not to distance myself from either. And so ever since, whenever I feel something tugging me away from relationship, I remember that dream and resist the temptation to go off by myself.
Thinking About My Faults
It isn't always easy. Early this morning before getting out of bed I became aware of my faults, and realized that I have been allowing other things to get in the way of my relationship with God. So I prayed for forgiveness and resolved in my heart to spend more time with Him. It then occurred to me that not only has my relationship with God been deficient, but also my relationships with people. So I asked God to help me be a better brother in Christ.
As I thought of my relationships with people, I found myself becoming angry at their faults. But the more I thought about those faults, I realized that what I am most sensitive to is most likely their awareness of my faults.
It then seemed like a good idea to be around other people as little as possible so that they wouldn't have occasion to see my faults and thereby fall into their old habit patterns of relating to me in a way that rubs me wrong. I realized that this thinking was suspect because it would drive me away from relationships with others altogether, which cannot be what God wants.
Another Dream: Cold Water
I had another dream, much more recent, maybe a couple years ago, in which I was in an icy cold place. I was walking on a very high bridge over a river when someone kicked cold water in my face. I was extremely angry, but then this same person opened up cases full of delicious food for me and my family. The meaning of this dream, I believe, was that it is the very people that sometimes nettle me the most through whom God wants to pour out His provision.
Obviously this presents a difficulty. When someone does something that rubs me the wrong way I have to somehow deal with it and not let it drive me away from relationship. And so I find myself in a difficult spot, needing to embrace the very people who sometimes make me angry.
I haven't mastered this technique yet. I tend to let people close enough so that I can receive through them God's provision, but hold them far enough away that the cold water they kick in my face has a chance to warm a little before it actually reaches me. This seems like a terrible way to live, and I firmly believe God has a better way forward.