Have you ever had a dream where you are encountering something frightening, stressful or sorrowful and somehow, in the midst of the emotional upheaval, you tell yourself, “It’s only a dream. It’s only a dream?”
Most of the time, I don’t recall my dreams. Saturday night I had a dream, and because I woke up to use the restroom, I remembered it. In my dream my husband, Jeff, and I were on a mission trip in a foreign country. I was in a building or church with other ladies helping to set up to feed people. Jeff comes in and tells me that the hotel we’re staying in is on fire. Suddenly I had an armload of clothes and our wallets with our money, ID’s and passports. I knew it’s what was salvaged from the fire, but I don’t know how it suddenly appeared in my arms. I put them in our rental car, but then everything got stolen from the car. I was panicked because without our passports, we were stuck in this country. Feeling overwhelmed, crying to Jeff, I suddenly told myself, “It’s not real. It’s only a dream.”
As I relayed the dream to my husband – let’s face it, the dream wasn’t that intense – it reminded me of books I’ve read that captured me. Books that caused me to feel every emotion of the hero or heroine. Books that made me feel personally connected to the characters. Books that washed over my emotions like a tidal wave. It didn’t help to tell myself it wasn’t real, it was only a book.
The first book I recall reading that affected me that way was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It drew me in so that I knew Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. I wanted Laurie (Lawrence, the boy next door) and Jo to end up together. I was crushed when they didn’t. For weeks, I carried this hurt.
As a teenager (a married teenager), I read Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It had the same effect on me. I lived in that book long after I finished it. I could not reconcile my emotions around the fact that Scarlett and Rhett did not stay together. How could Scarlett love Ashley all those years? I wanted to slap some sense into her.
Now….now I want to write books that move people like that. I want to create characters that live on in the readers mind once the book is finished. I want to reveal the best in humanity and the failures, weaknesses, frailty and imperfections we all encounter within ourselves. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” Psalm 139: 14. I want to show the heart of God for mankind.
That is my prayer.