Is my dream a message from God?

Is my dream a message from God? May 31, 2024

There are some days when God whispers in a still small voice…And there are some days when he smacks you upside the head.

God has been whispering to me for the past few days. Well, actually he’s been whispering for months. The past few days however, he’s been stage whispering. On my drive home from capoeira every night, my attention was drawn noticeably to that one turn that leads to a 24 hour chapel.

But that chapel is scary at night. It has gargoyles. I was too exhausted to properly pray anyways. Fixing my eyes resolutely on the road, I drove past the chapel. Every day for weeks.

The stage whispering wasn’t working…God brought out the big guns. My mom.

God Spoke to Me in a Dream–through my mother

For context, my mom is currently halfway across the world. She, my dad, and my two siblings are enjoying the pasta of Italy and the croissants of France. I, on the other hand, got to enjoy the peace and quiet of living alone. On this particular day, that meant taking a nap. And that’s when the dream came.

You know those dreams where it feels like you’re awake? Where your dream setting is your real life setting? That was this dream.

I had fallen asleep nestled among the multiple pillows of my parents’ bed. In my dream, I was cushioned by those very same pillows. The strange thing was that my mom was walking in though she was supposed to be halfway around the world.

My eyes were closed, but I heard her steps approach the bed. And I heard her voice right over my head,

Mariel, ve a la iglesia.

Mariel, go to the church.

I shook her voice away and within my dream fell back asleep. A nice floaty feeling of all my muscles relaxing–her hands closed over my shoulders. I jolted awake—within my dream. I woke up from a dream into another dream.

Mariel, you have to go now!

The urgency of her voice, the tightness of her grip on my upper arms jolted me awake for real this time. My heart hammered rapidly as my fight-or-flight response struggled to identify the threat. I blinked the last of my sleep fog and looked around. There were the pillows, there was my water cup, and my mom was definitely in Europe and not shaking me by the shoulders. I ran a hand across my face and breathed.

Was it just a dream?

I’ve always wondered how characters in the Bible distinguished regular dreams from message-from-God dreams. How did Joseph know an angel had actually told him to take off as a refuge to Egypt? And did Jacob really see a ladder to Heaven? Maybe they had just gone to bed with too much food in their bellies? Or maybe they were stressed. Stress can lead to some very vivid dreams.

In high school, a teacher gave me a simple answer to my questioning,

If you dream you need to do something that is good and noble, do it.

There’s no need to parse whether it was an extraordinary dream or just a regular dream. If you dream you need to do something good and noble, just do it. No need to overthink.

Well, going to a chapel is definitely good and noble. And the adrenaline rushing through my body wasn’t going to let me go back to sleep anyways. Besides, I was perfectly aware of the fact that I had been ignoring God’s request to go the chapel for a while (my bad!).

On the way to the church: does my family need prayers?

I brushed my teeth, grabbed my shoes, and walked out the door.

I considered grabbing my car keys, but driving a fourth of a mile when I could walk didn’t sit right even if I do live in sweltering Texas. Instead, I closed the door behind me and set a brisk pace to the church, shaking my head at the fact that God had resorted to a dream, a nightmare.

As I was walking, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe it hadn’t been just a nightmare. What if…what if something had happened to my family and my mom’s soul came to my dream because they all urgently needed prayers?

My stride lengthened and as I got to the downhill slope leading to the church, my legs were moving in tandem with my heartbeat. How had this not occurred to me until now? My dreams never felt that vivid! When was the last time I’d woken up with that much panic? And I had literally felt her grab me. I had selfishly thought Jesus was calling me for me, thought that this was the fruit of my mom’s prayers for me, but maybe it was actually my family that needed my prayers.

It was 1am in Europe. My family was probably asleep. I didn’t text them, because a lack of response would be a confirmation of my worries.

In the church, he called me Beloved

The air was cool as I opened the door and I hurried to the very front pew. Genuflecting before the tabernacle, I poured out the humblest of prayers, clinging to my faith in Jesus’ words:

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the [tax collector] went home justified…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:13-14

Jesus, I know I have been far from you, but if my family needs my prayers please do not disregard me.

Standing from the aisle, I slipped directly onto the kneeler, not bothering to sit down first. I clasped my hands together tightly, each breath a silent please. The vibration of my phone in my pocket made me jump. It was a text from my mom. She had sent me a picture of a church in Milan they’d visited earlier that day. I just woke up, she said, look at this beautiful church.

A long sigh escaped me. I texted back a response and looked up at the tabernacle. So, Jesus had called me for me after all. A smile flitted across my face. Settling into the pew, I opened to that day’s readings. The first word,


Beloved. One who is loved beyond measure. One who will never be given up, even if it means scaring the crap out of her in a dream. One whose sins could never tarnish her preciousness.

During a recent homily, the priest pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and asked the congregation of mostly college students, who wants it? Everyone did.

Then, he crumpled up the bill and asked again, who wants it?


Then, the priest dropped it on the floor and stomped on it, ground it with the heel of his shoe. Do you all still want it?


Nothing the priest could do to that twenty-dollar bill could diminish its value. Whatever happened, the twenty-dollar bill was still worth twenty dollars. The analogy is…No matter how sin might tarnish us, God’s children, nothing can diminish our value. Whatever happens, God’s children still hold the value of God’s children, the value of belovedness.

I’m going through a time of struggle. The same sins over and over in the confessional for over a year now. I thought confession was supposed to free you from your sins, so…why isn’t it working for me? I dropped into despair. For whatever reason, I was unreceptive to God’s grace, I wasn’t going to be free of this sin, so why keep praying? Why keep going to confession right away?


In the face of despair, Jesus breathed love. All I have to do is hold on to it. No conditions. Even if I am not worthy of it, because I am not worthy of it, I hold on to his love.



My parents have since returned from their trip, safe and sound! Surprisingly, my routine is not so different when they’re here or away–just a lot less blaring of music or cooking after midnight. Thank you all for reading this column. I’ll be back with more soon, so please follow me on @birdloversmusings for updates! And if you’re interested to learn more about my thoughts on discernment, check this post out.

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