It’s funny how dreams sometimes combine who we are with who we once were–and who we hope to be and who we fear to be. Last night I dreamed I was in school again, and my teacher kept me in at recess with a bunch of boys. He kept me in even longer than the boys–grilling me after they left about how late I go to bed and how much I’ve been sleeping. I tell him irritably that I usually listen to my mom reading to my younger sister and then go to bed, that I’m fine, but inside I’m thinking, “Of course I act tired! I’m pregnant with twins!”
Back at my mom’s house, I find her sitting in the living room with the white changing table that I was looking at online. How nice that she ordered it for me! “Your teacher is quitting,” she tells me.
I know this is my fault, so I find my teacher and start apologizing, telling him he doesn’t need to quit. “I’ll drop out of school,” I say. “I have a college degree any way, I don’t know why I keep trying and trying to graduate 9th grade!”
Waking up, I felt bemused, wondering which part of my life I am in right now and who I am. I wondered if this is how God sees me a little bit–maybe when He looks at me, he sees the 9th grader I once was and the adult I am today and the person I can’t see yet, who I will be in 5 years from now; and maybe He just smiles when I look back and think how far I’ve come. Because he has seen all of the different ones of me all along, none of it caught him by surprise. And He sees past all this to something I can’t see: the sum of a person, the gift of human existence, the spirit that he created to be eternal…
Perhaps you, like me when I first awoke, are wondering which parts of my dream are real. You know I am not currently living with my mom, and I am not in 9th grade. You may have guessed that my mom did not order the changing table I was looking at on Amazon. Twins? you think. Hmm.
Well, I had a hard time believing that part too, but when I woke up from my dream this morning, it was still true. Two babies still kick inside me. The Alison who once gave all of her teachers early gray hair is about to be the mother of two newborn babies simultaneously. There is joy and terror in that thought.
That momentous day, as we left the ultrasound, breathless and overwhelmed, Ben said to me,” Now you must know how Mary felt!”
“I’m not quite the mother of Jesus!” was my initial response. But then I thought about how every child bears the image of the Father, I thought about the worth of a human soul, and I remembered that feeling, lying on the bed in the ultrasound room knowing I was completely unworthy of the gift I was being given. And my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior, for he had regarded the low estate of his servant.
I remember before I knew I was having any baby, flipping through my Bible and landing on a Psalm. It spoke of the wicked being satisfied with the treasures of this life and with children that God gives them. “As for me,” it says, “I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”
At the time I read that, I thought maybe God was telling me that I would be barren, that He would deny me babies and motherhood and I would have to be content with Him. He must have laughed at that, because even then, unknown to me, I was the mother of not one, but two.
Now I see it differently. I see him telling me not to take His good gifts for granted. Not to think that healthy babies and a clean house are the goals of life. Because even now there is so much I could be anxious about, and I could worry about everything that could go wrong instead of thanking him for what He has already done and what He will continue to do.
I see him looking at the 9th grader me, the 21-year-old me, and the me who is still sick and sometimes unproductive but blessed with twins. I know that He sees past all of this to the person He is making me, the one He is recreating in the image of His Son.
As joyous as it is to wake up from wild pregnant dreams to find myself safe in my own bed–the wife of Ben and the mother of twins–how much more satisfied will I be when I awake from this world someday and find that God has used all of it to shape me into His likeness?
P.S. Less exciting news, but maybe worth mentioning–my book How Beautiful the Dusty Road is officially published and available through the CLP website, and probably is or will soon be available at your local Mennonite bookstore. (If that is a thing.) 😊 To borrow the expressive ending of all the Christopher churchmouse story-tapes I ever listened to–“Look for them at your local Christian bookstore…”