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Creative Nonfiction

Hiding Place

           In my recurring dream, I am a child, perhaps three or four years old, hiding beside a gray sofa, crouched to make myself smaller, on a hardwood floor, my eyes closed so he can't see me. Yet, he always finds me in my black-and-white dream.

“There you are.” He towers over me, smiling deceptively, and I do not like it.

Then, in the same dream, I am in a foyer, but this time I'm a teenager fighting to get out of the house. The doors refuse to open, and he chases me around the room, cutting me off, making the room seem smaller and smaller.

The scene cuts away to the outside, and I'm running through the grass and running and trying to catch my breath, and I can't seem to run fast enough. I continue running, but when I glance over my shoulder to look back, I realize I'm not making any progress. I see the dilapidated structure that looks like it's ready to tip over or collapse on whoever is inside, but I still can't put any distance between me and my past. Every time I look back, I'm still as close as I was when I began, and I cannot get away.

When I'm outside the past, running, I am an adult. This dream repeats itself nightly for a time, and I understand the root cause of the dream from things that happened when I was young that I was powerless to stop, some because of my age, and some because of my training to obey my elders, to do what's expected of me. But how could I make the dream stop?

When something happens that I cannot handle in my mind or spirit, I have a hiding place that seems to keep me safe. I don’t have to look at whatever I want to avoid; I don’t have to see. Hiding doesn't take away what's happening around me or to me, but I don't have to face it. I can bear it. I can survive. The downside of this hidden place is that I can never overcome what makes me want to hide. Although God gives us a way of escape, it's not always a good idea to open that escape hatch. God provides that way of escape, but nothing is solved when we're running away. Consider Joseph, in Genesis 39, who fled from his youthful lust, resulting in a two-year prison sentence. He felt lust toward Potiphar's wife, or he wouldn't have needed to flee his youthful lust. It wasn't merely her advances and her insistence on sleeping with him that caused his trouble. He wanted her. Instead of facing himself, he ran. Whenever we run from our fears, we end up in prison because we don't learn to cope. We don't learn to overcome our youthful lust or our fears of what's happened to us, what's been done to us, so we can't move on and live because it haunts us, because it chases us down, because we can't get away from the dilapidated shack. Although God gives us a way of escape, at some point, we need to stop running away, we need to face whatever we are afraid of. I don't know who coined this phrase, but it fits this scenario: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

I wanted the dreams to end. When the events that triggered the dreams had taken place, I was not equipped to fight back. If I told anyone, I believed I would get in trouble because I believed I did something wrong. As a newly saved, born-again Christian, it seemed wrong that I was afraid of anything. God takes away all fear, so why was I still afraid?

As I contemplated this truth before God, I asked him to take away my fear; to help me face whatever it was that I needed to face. To show me the truth.

In one more final dream, it begins the same. I am a little girl, and a scary big man with a long, white, scraggly beard is trying to find me, and I'm hiding as a child would hide in a corner and in a small space beside the sofa with my eyes closed so he cannot see me, and he finds me, just as he did before, and I'm a teenager, in the foyer, closer to an escape, and he's chasing me, and I can't get out. And then I am out of the scary place. I'm an adult running away, and I'm running and running, and I look back at the dilapidated shack, and I haven't made any progress since I began running. And then I stop, and I turn all the way around and face the scary shack that holds my past, and I realize I'm not a child anymore. I'm an adult, and I can face my fears, and I can go back and find out what I'm still afraid of. When I walk toward the dilapidated shack, I awaken and never have the dream again.

I didn't need to face my abuser, who had long since deceased. I didn't need to go back to where it all happened. I needed to realize the truth. I was no longer a child. I was no longer helpless. I no longer needed to run. I faced my cave, which held my fear, and the truth was the treasure that I had found.

It seemed like this should be the end of the story, but recently I realized the place of escape still existed in me. I had a sore foot, so to continue walking with my husband, I rode my bicycle while he walked.  When a deerfly landed on my nose while ascending uphill, I lost my balance when I swatted it off my nose. I did not have enough momentum to keep my bike upright, and I went down. My feet were stuck in the toe clips on my bicycle pedals, but that wasn't why I went down; it wasn't why I couldn't put my foot down on the ground to stop my fall. When I began to fall—this is the third time it has happened on my bicycle—there was enough time to stop the fall, but I went to this place of escape. And I couldn't put my foot down to stop my fall.

In another one-time dream, I was a passenger in a car heading towards an intersection where many cars whizzed by while we headed towards the red light. I realized we weren't going to stop, and I knew I was going to have an accident. I closed my eyes and screamed, awaiting the collision. When I opened my eyes, I was safe on the other side of the intersection.  Since my eyes had been closed, I didn’t know how I made it to the other side, but I did make it.

As I move forward with the cast on my broken hand, I continue to ponder the way of escape and its eventual destruction when it is no longer needed. I trust God for many things in my life, but perhaps there are more areas left to surrender to Him. I will continue to fight to keep my eyes focused on God and His provision.

July 14, 2023 12:48

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2 comments

Kathryn Kahn
16:09 Feb 06, 2024

What an interesting story. It reads like a testimonial, or even a sermon. I can envision it being spoken, presented to a group of fellow believers. Nice, consistent tone.

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Patricia Casey
17:28 Feb 06, 2024

Thank you, Kathryn. I appreciate your comments.

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