What are Dreams and Where do they Come From?

Those questions are something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately because I have no idea what’s the right answer to either of them. The reason dreams have been on my mind is because I’ve been having some real funky ones as of late. And by funky I mean strange, not-so-nice or haunting. None of them have been reoccurring, but each one has a really vivid story, plot, cast of characters (all of whom I know personally in one capacity or another) and something horrible, sad or debilitating always happens. The dream is that of a third party—like I’m watching myself in a movie—and I’ll always wake up right before the conclusion. Thinking about it now, that might actually be a good thing with the pattern my dreams have been following. I won’t go into a lot of detail (otherwise the length of this post would be longer then my book), but here are some of the more recent ones:

-My entire family gets shot in front of me as we are all walking up the driveway to go home and for the rest of the dream I’m dodging the murderers from killing me too.
-I’m back in college playing baseball again and when it’s my turn to bat, I’m always skipped as I stand on the on-deck circle waiting for my turn—a turn that never comes. I stand there watching everyone else launch baseballs off of their bats as I long for just one more time to feel what it’s like to get a hit.
-The devil morphs itself into different everyday objects and then pops out at me at different times throughout the course of my everyday life. He then tries to kill me over and over again, beating the living daylights out of me. I end up constantly fist fighting him and in the fight he’ll disappear and then reappear in the form of another object shortly after.
-I’m in an airport terminal and I’m sitting at my gate and my flight never gets called, and no one has any answers as the rest of life flies by and I’m stuck not knowing how to catch up or get out.
-Vivid images from my past that I would never want to relive (times of sorrow, guilt, sadness, death).
-An army (definitely bad guys) of some sort chasing me, and we end up at my parent’s house (the house they still live in and the house I grew up in). They kill my family trying to find me and they finally do find me hiding—and then I wake up.

All of these darn dreams are dramatically affecting my sleep, and no matter how many hours I get a night it still feels like I’ve pulled an all-nighter, every night. I need an answer to what’s going on—or at least I’d like one. It would be easy for me to fall into anyone of the many classic interpretations about dreams—whether secular psychological or Christian based. The secular world would like me to believe that there are symbols or archetypes imbedded in the dreams, where certain objects or scenarios mean certain things in real life. The Christian world would generally attribute good dreams to God and bad or unsettling dreams to the devil or evil spirits. But that would all be too easy. Besides, I don’t know if I agree with any of those beliefs. Who knows; maybe it’s just some rogue brain synapses randomly firing that causes a mixture of memories and fears? If that’s the case, I wonder why the rogue synapses don’t ever create for me happy or comforting dreams?

I am one of those people who remember dreams with crystal clear clarity. I’ve always remembered them as far back as my mind will let me go. And as I think about my time growing up, I clearly remember that my dreams—even as a kid and teenager—were still as terrible as they are today. This is not to say I never have a peaceful nights sleep. In fact, I have many peaceful and refreshing nights sleep—just not recently or with 99.9% of the dreams I remember. Maybe it’s just that I only lock-in and remember the bad dreams, which is why I never remember the good dreams that give me a rested spirit in sleep?

Recently I’ve been praying and talking to God until the moment I fall into REM sleep, and that has just seemed to produce more spiritually related haunting dreams. Who knows what any of this is or means. I just hope that I can, soon enough, once again sleep peacefully and know what it’s like to wake up refreshed. I do know this much though—our God is a God beyond dreams. I’ll stick with that in place of any of the previous explanations and know that no matter what happens in my head while I sleep, the God of the present while I’m awake is far greater then any fear, guilt or situation that might haunt me as I sleep.

Much love.
www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Anonymous

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the Gene Robinson, the gay bishop, giving the opening prayer at the inauguration?

  • Darin Brown

    Just to relate (maybe not at all, but why not just share around the room a bit) I have these dreams I call Athletic Dreams. I dream that I am doing something active (running to or from someone, hiking, biking, etc.) and then when I wake up, I am sweaty. Once my wife got up in the middle of the night to do something and when she came back she said I was moving my feet like I was running. It was an athletic dream. Keeps me fit, right?

  • Andrew Marin

    Athletic dreams….I love those. I can’t stand going to work out, so maybe I’ll just start using that as a legitimate option!


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