Last weekend I attended a conference on the Song of Songs taught as an allegory of the love of Christ for his bride, the church. The theme of the weekend was mindblowingly affirmative - a good antidote to what normally goes on in my head. Years of swallowing legalistic garbage mingled with my own prideful self-criticism has caused me to believe that God feels the same way about me that I do. If I’m a disappointment to myself, then I must be a disappointment to him. If I think I’m constantly failing in my Christian walk, he must think so too. But the fact is that God doesn’t see me the way I see myself. To him I am a ravishing bride for his Son, in the process of becoming absolutely perfect.
Over and over God has tried to drive home the point that he’s head of heels in love with me. He’s not disappointed, he’s not angry, he’s not tapping his foot or checking his watch to see how long it’s going to take me to “get with the program.” And although sometimes my mind grasps the truth of his overwhelming affection for me - especially since scriptures constantly confirm it – sadly, my broken, blind heart doesn’t follow suit.
The first night of the conference I had a most astounding dream that revealed the source of my inner battle in a way that I could finally understand. As with all dreams, its emotional power is both difficult to convey and far outweighs the telling, but perhaps those who have struggled as I have will get the point.
My dream began in a large, dark hall, crowded with many people, mostly women. I realized immediately that we had all been taken as war prisoners. It’s hard to describe the sense of fear and foreboding we all felt. The first thing our captors did was strip us and hand out ugly brown prison garb. Next they cut our hair so that we all looked alike. One by one we were distributed to various prison guards as slaves. Unfortunately, I was given to the worst one of all – the guard who ran the entire prison. Not only was my work grueling, but I was treated very cruelly. Gradually I lost my morals and began to lie, cheat and steal to survive. After many months, all of the women in my unit were together again as we had been at the beginning. One of the women was laughing. She had assumed the identity of our captors and was beginning to become one of them. I realized at that moment that there was something even worse than being held as a prisoner. It was forgetting who you were before you had been captured. Even though I had become desperately hardened, I still remembered who I was. Somehow that gave me hope.
As soon as I woke up I knew what the dream meant. Years of being held captive by the enemy of my soul had almost robbed me of my identity. I was able to see how the goal of his lies is to completely separate me from the truth of who I am in Christ. He has tried to turn me and all my other captive sisters and brothers into drab, look-a-likes in order to humiliate us and produce a hostage identity that feels helpless and defeated. Some of us have given up and joined forces with the enemy assuming that we will never be anything more than who he says we are. But thank God, some of us still have a trace memory of the heavenly imprint in our souls. Though we have compromised our true identity in order to survive in this condition, something tells us that we are not who he wants us to think we are. We are the Beloved, we are Christ’s Bride, we are Divine Royalty.Though I have been in captivity, the reign of terror has come to an end! Will I always remember who I really am? Maybe not. I’ll need scripture and my brothers and sisters in Christ to remind me, but the enemy has been unmasked! I know I’m not who he says I am. I’m not in his cruel servitude any longer. I’m not defined by my failures but by what Christ says about me. I’m a radiant Bride. I can’t possibly be loved any more than I am right now. Passivity will no longer keep me as a puppet of the enemy. I’m choosing to lead an uprising of my sisters and brother out of bondage and into the light of Grace!