I have a friend who is young in the Lord and who dreams continually. She shares her dreams with me and others and she thinks all her dreams are from God. It concerns me that she isn’t considering that there are other sources even though I and other seasoned believers have tried to bring some balance to her beliefs.
I have serious doubts about some of her dreams, especially since she has many emotional wounds and has used these dreams to guide her in decisions that have cut her off from godly authority and accountability. Any suggestions on how best to help her?
Name withheld on request
Emotional baggage and dreams (Part 1)
This is a very good question and covers an aspect of dreams that I have not addressed directly before. It is also a difficult question because there are no easy answers for dealing with someone who has a blind spot that others see quite clearly. I know that because of many of the dreams people send to me. From my outsider position I can often see that the dream has nothing to do with a message from God but is a manipulation of their dream world to support conclusions they desire.
I will address some specific suggestions for dealing with your friend in a moment but first I want to use your question to persuade all readers to recognize and take into consideration what a big part their emotions play when trying to interpret dreams. In fact, it seems to me there is wisdom in always holding a healthy skepticism up front about a dream’s source. More often than not the soul or the flesh produces the lion’s share of fodder for our dream world.
The question to ask yourself with each dream is if you have a vested interest in the subject matter. If so, beware of saying it is “from the Lord.” For instance, it is common to wonder if a particular dream is a sign to marry a particular person. Why? Because the dreamer wants to marry and their dreams naturally reflect it. Or they dream of having a child but it is usually because they are hoping to have a child.
It’s worse for people who are grappling with emotional wounds on top of the natural desires we all have for certain outcomes. The dream world may be a major outlet for tough or long standing issues. Also, if the individual is less mature in a particular area of life, dreams are easy to latch onto, as a guide for making decisions. Unfortunately the outcome is often disappointing and then a new question pops up: “Lord, why did you give me that dream and now look how things turned out?” Of course the dream was never from God in the first place.
Suggestions (Part 2)
How do you help such a person? From your question it looks like you’ve already tried unsuccessfully to “bring some balance” by simply talking to her and offering alternate thoughts on her dreams. She is not open to anything that opposes the track she’s chosen and she probably becomes defensive when anyone pushes back on her interpretation. Under that scenario the best you can do is ask questions in a very neutral tone without making judgments. Questions such as: “How did you feel about that dream?” “What about that dream made you feel it was from the Lord?” “How do you distinguish dreams from yourself verses dreams from God?”
Be interested in the dreams she brings forth without arguing with her or agreeing or disagreeing that God is the source. Simply accept her for who she is right now and believe that if her walk with the Lord is sincere she will mature over time. When she does some of the immature ways will drop off.
You have mentioned that she has cut herself off from godly authority and accountability. That’s really a shame because there are always consequences for those kinds of mistakes. She may be one who is stubborn and will have to make them and learn the hard way. But if her friends haven’t projected an “I told you so” attitude she may then more willingly return to wise counsel with a humble teachable heart. Keep the door open.