Thank you, so much, to everyone who has given me advice so far. The outpouring of support I've received is far greater than I ever dreamed it would be, and has brought me far more comfort than I ever imagined.
As I continue on this journey, unraveling the mysteries of faith, I hope that it will all be worth the pain I'm now experiencing. Two setbacks came today:
I got a Christian book today from my sister and her husband called "Always True: God's Promises when Life is Hard." Right away I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Skimming through a few pages confirmed my suspicion, down in my gut as well as my heart, about a few things:
The book is written for people who are already strong Christians, and who just need a reminder that "God is sovereign over sin," "God is sovereign over our rebellion,"
and Why fear is not okay: Fear is the exact opposite of what Christianity is supposed to be."
The thing is, I'm not even sure I want to be
a Christian anymore. For me, this was like receiving a book about chess with a chapter (or at least a section) entitled "Why losing is not okay: Losing is the complete opposite of the aim of chess, which is to win." It is filled with tons of bolded Bible verses, one after the other, and very little explanation from the author about if and why they should be believed (especially in the face of dire situations that can make life a living hell). I get the very strong sense that the book is written that way because it was intended for people whose trust in literal Scripture is absolute, and who receive comfort from verses because they already know what they mean...
THE UNSETTLING DREAM
I had this one last night. I'm a big fan of fairy tales/fantasy, and also chess, so it's no wonder these two themes combined so vividly in my subconscious. I was a beautiful princess, although a very haughty one, who was the best chess player in my entire kingdom (and NOT just because I was the princess and people let me win, either). I just kept on winning, winning, winning...
Along came a handsome prince (seriously. You may be thinking, "Oh, brother!" but in the dream he was HOT). He said he wanted to challenge me to a chess game. I smirked and said, "All right. You must know that you're going to lose, but if I do instead, I'll marry you. You'll get me as a prize!" So we play, I lose (!!!!!), and the handsome prince and I get married. We should be living happily ever after, right? Wrong. I refuse to declare that our wedding was valid, because our chess game ended in a stalemate--a draw. Deep down in my heart, I know it wasn't
a draw, but I won't admit it.
Every day the handsome prince asks me if I lost the game, and I keep telling him no. I keep telling the prince that at the chessboard, he played me to a draw and thus married me under false pretenses. He never gets mad at me or makes any other demands of me. The prince just keeps waiting, staring at me with this look of complete love/adoration on his face, hoping I'll concede at last. In the meantime, I enter dozens of chess tournaments throughout the kingdom, hoping to (reclaim) win the title. The Prince enters none. Odd...
Anyway, I play in these dozen tournaments, and lose EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. All my opponents just point and laugh at me, because they know I'm getting what I deserve: their scorn and condemnation. I'm getting my just deserts.
I come home from the final one, and the prince (still smiling) says, "How did the tournaments go?" I break down weeping. "Je perdu, perdu, perdu..."
As the refrain of "I lost, lost, lost!" echoed in my mind, a stupid dog started barking (in real life) outside my bedroom window and I woke up. Darn it!!!
Anyway, I know at least partially what the dream means. The princess, obviously, is me, and the handsome prince represents God. The thing is, in real life I don't think I'm that much of a "witch" (although maybe I am).
My opponents in the chess tournament, as represented in the dream, are things like unemployment, being denied job opportunities, and being almost totally broke. These circumstances seem to be laughing at me in my losing state, and it's not funny at all. Maybe I was too proud of the job I did have, when I did have it. I know I rejoiced that I was finally "going somewhere" and "being somebody" in the world. I don't know. That dream was hard to have, and even harder to wake up from without knowing how it ended. I told the handsome prince the truth about how I did in the tournaments, but was I also conceding he'd won our game? I hope I dream the end of it soon...