Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bears, Dreams, and Decisions

When I was a child, bears often inhabited my dreams, or more specifically, my nightmares. Perhaps an encounter with a bear when I was four years old triggered them (Encounter with Bears). Probably, growing up in Alaska where bears were often more numerous than people and the grizzly stories of bear attacks I heard contributed to their frequency.

Courtesy Google Images
When I became an adult, those scary nocturnal encounters stopped--until I joined a writing group in 2007.

I dreamed that I was standing on the sidewalk in front of a large church that had two entryways--one at each end of the block. I was midway between them when I glanced up and spotted a grizzly bear galloping down the intersecting street right toward me.

My first reaction was disbelief. What was a bear doing in a city?

Then paralyzing fear surged through me. My head swiveled toward one entryway and then the other. Each entry had several steps to climb. Both doors were closed. Which one could I reach before the bear attacked me?

As I hesitated in indecision, the slobbering bear reached me. Just as it was about to pounce, my strangled scream woke me up.

Even after my pounding heart, throbbing head, and trembling body calmed, the nightmare stayed with me. Why did I have a nightmare about a bear? I hadn't had one in years. Why now?

At my writing group the next week, someone had written about a dream, so we were discussing dreams and what they mean. I told them about my nightmare.

One lady asked, "Are you struggling with a decision--a choice you need to make?"

Just as sunbeams bursting through dark clouds illuminate a spot below, a personal dilemma came into focus as though highlighted. Since I was a teenager, I had wanted to write novels.

For years I had been writing short stories, articles, and church school curriculum on assignment, and for the previous four years, a daily devotional for the website of The Sound of Life, a network of Christian radio stations. Along with all my responsibilities as a pastor's wife and minister myself, those assignments consumed my creative energy.

The bear in my nightmare showed me that time was running out. I was in my early sixties. If I was ever going to fulfill my dream of writing novels, I needed to make some changes--now.

The radio network could make other arrangements, so I gave notice that I'd finish writing devotionals at the end of the year. I devoted that time to writing the novels I'd always wanted to write. Two of them have been published, and I'm working on the third in my historical Christian fiction books in my Alaskan Waters series.

Have you ever had a dream that seemed to have a deeper meaning? That gave you direction? I would love to hear about it in a comment below.


  1. I have been a dreamer my whole life, if I have a particularly vivid dream, I sit with it a while and allow it to teach me what I may be needing or resisting. It allows me to delve deeper into areas I am refusing to look at. Sometimes I also wake up from a dream with a great idea for a story and quickly jot it down.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. S.K., Thank you for sharing your experiences with dreams. I too have had many dreams that have helped me solve puzzles, find solutions to problems, provide direction. Once or twice they were even predictive. I think we are wise to consider dreams carefully.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I'm known for my wacky dreams. I'll have dreams with people I haven't seen or thought of in years, and occasionally they'll even include celebrities. When I was a kid, my recurring dreams were of water and bridges. Those dreams eventually changed over to tornadoes. I have learned, though, that when I have a dream with people I know, whether I've seen them recently or not, I pray for them. A couple of times they have turned out to be from the Lord so I don't take chances. Besides, everyone can stand to have a little extra prayer every once in awhile.

  4. Pam, I agree about praying for people I dream about. I do that too. Thanks for sharing! I also think our subconscious works on our fears and problems in our dreams and can alert us to things we need to give conscious thought to. Do you live in an area prone to tornadoes?