When the need to forgive has been hidden, part 3

Dead houses

In part 2 of this post, I dug into two very revealing dreams about my parents. Today on Choosing Peace, we’ll explore two more dreams. Get ready to read about beautiful houses, a wig, The All-American Family and much more.

Crumbling houses
Last year, the Lord gave me a fascinating dream. I call it Crumbling Houses. I wrote about it in my journal.

Tuesday, July 9
Brandon woke me up at 3:45 while my alarm was going off. I was in the middle of an intense dream.

The dream: Shelly [—Brandon’s violent sister—] was driving a car and Brandon and I were riding in it. She was having trouble knowing where to turn and we weren’t sure if we were on the right road. She was loud, as usual.

We found ourselves in a neighborhood. All the big, two-story houses were abandoned. They were once grand and beautiful, but they were made of stone and it was crumbling. There was no glass in the windows. The houses looked like they were falling apart from the inside out. The outward facades were intact, but the inner stone was crumbling and broken off all over.

Then I found myself hanging on to one of the upper windows of one of the houses. It was crumbling in my hands as I tried to hold on and not fall. The house was on top of the vehicle and Shelly was still driving. We asked her to pull over and stop the car in the neighborhood so I could get safely down, even though this wasn’t our destination. Then the alarm went off.

I took Logan to church for his 4:30 drop-off for camp….

The word “condemned” came to my mind as I described the houses in the dream to Charlene on Friday.

My reading this morning was Joshua 12, about all the 31 kings that Israel had defeated under Moses and Joshua because the Lord was with them. The Lord fought for them and was with them as they battled their enemies. They were totally victorious. And so are we.

Wow. Where do I start. When Shelly’s in the driver’s seat, danger is just around the corner. That is a given.

Stately and epic
From a distance, the two-story brick houses looked so grand. Opulent. Extremely impressive. They exuded that Wow Factor.

The houses stood side-by-side. They went together. They made a lovely, stately neighborhood—from a distance. But once you got close enough, you realized that what you saw wasn’t reality. At all. What appeared to be so valuable and beautiful had no life in it. The whole neighborhood was dead. As we got closer, we could see that the houses were abandoned and “falling apart from the inside out.” We were looking at a ghost town on an epic scale. What did that mean?

The houses represented Brandon’s family.

The all-American family
The people in the house where Brandon grew up looked good in staged photographs. The All-American Family. But appearances were quite deceiving. Andrew, Brandon’s dad, was a school vice principal. Delia, Brandon’s mom, was a well-known artist, frequently written about in the local newspaper. They were philanthropists—always helping someone “less fortunate.” Andrew was a church elder. They were all active in their church. What an impressive résumé.

But in reality, the house was filled with serious mental illness, violence, lies, chaos and evil. For a summary of Brandon’s childhood—I mean Life With Sociopaths—see The Trauma of Child Abuse, part 1. It links to many other stories from The War Zone.

Life and death
In real life, Shelly is dead. But in some ways, her impact lingers—and the many truths we learned from her chaotic, loud, violent, dramatic, lying, destructive, bombastic, demanding, evil life. I call it her “life.” But in reality, she drove herself headlong toward death—crushing her selected targets as she poisoned herself with her vast array of prescription drugs. She fell apart from the inside out. (Pssst. Evil is live spelled backwards.)

Brandon’s parents ordered us to rush to Shelly’s hospital room time and time again for her supposed Deathbed Farewell. “This is it! She could die any moment!” Drama, drama, drama. We went together once. Or was it twice. Years later, Brandon went once more toward the end of her life—I mean her Reign of Terror.

The ghost town
In the dream, we didn’t know where we were going or how to get there. We were lost. And Shelly drove us to a ghost town—to a place where she’d feel right at home—a place that embodied her core nature. Empty. Falling apart. Deceiving. Towering above. Threatening the targets.

Cousin Wayne, Brandon’s favorite, told us a story about one-year-old Shelly. When someone would come up to admire Baby Shelly, she would punch them in the face. People learned early on to steer clear of Shelly—or get waylaid.

Dead houses
I wrote down words that characterized the ghost town in the dream and the words started to spell an acrostic. They spelled the scene: DEAD HOUSES.



Crumbling in my hand
In this dream, I clung desperately to crumbling stone high above the car Shelly was driving. Something life-threatening to me gave Sadistic Shelly a joyride.

I kept grabbing a new piece of stone and it would fall apart. The immense, crumbling house threatened my life. So did the fact that Shelly was driving. She knew I was in mortal danger, yet she didn’t stop driving. That describes Shelly to a T. She insisted on driving—on controlling. She declared who was in and who was out. Who got invited and who got excluded. Who got celebrated and who got crushed….

The creepy one
Did this dream, Crumbling Houses, represent some relatives that I hadn’t really thought about? Were there people I needed to forgive? Yes. My need to forgive them—had it been hidden? Yes. Why? Sometimes in life, there are people you just can’t wait to forget. I’m not kidding.

Let’s unpack one in particular—the creepy one.

The grandmother
Andrew’s mom—Brandon’s paternal grandmother—was a creepy Ice Princess. I’ll call her Mildred. Back in The Olden Days (I mean before Y2K), Mildred wasn’t happy that her grandson was marrying me. I was an outsider—a Baptist. Heaven forbid. Since I wasn’t a good little Church of Christ girl, Mildred considered me unacceptable. Charming. Oh-so-charming.

There were photos of Mildred and her husband—Brandon’s grandpa—on The Family Photo Wall at Andrew and Delia’s house. Mildred was very pretty when she was young. But she never smiled. I never saw her smile.

The nurse
She was rumored by her family to have murdered her husband—Mildred being a nurse and her husband having been given a lethal dose of his medication while she was caring for him. She was creepy, in many ways. Very creepy.

Mildred admired herself—highly. She was a nurse, and—in her assessment—that made her good. The preacher who spoke at her funeral talked at length about how much she loved nursing—how proud she was to be a nurse, how rewarding it was to her. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Being a nurse was the only thing that mattered.

When Brandon got his appendix removed, his grandmother came to see him. Mildred sat by his bed and petted his hand. It grossed him out. She was cold. She was creepy. And she was touching him. Ewww.

Looking down
Mildred’s facial expressions and her words were very cutting and critical. She looked down on everyone else. I’m beautiful. You’re ugly. I’m smart. You’re stupid. I’m good. You’re bad. I’m right. You’re wrong. That was the way she looked at people. Mildred was exceedingly conceited. Her lips were always pinched up, like our very presence was a grotesque inconvenience.

After Mildred died years ago, no one talked about her much. Everyone was relieved that she was dead. Overwhelmingly relieved. Andrew made a few comments on rare occasions. Mildred was a terrible mother who did nothing for him. He threw newspapers off his bicycle in elementary school to buy his own socks.

Crumbling houses. Dead houses. Side-by-side. Empty.

The word in the Dead Houses acrostic that makes me think about Mildred the most is the word sinister. Mildred was proud. Mildred was stately. And Mildred was deadly. In more ways than one.

Her son, Andrew—Brandon’s dad—is a sociopath.

Crumbling houses. Dead houses. Side-by-side. Empty.

What word from the acrostic describes Andrew the best? Dangerous.

The sinister mother and her dangerous son.

Life in the Spirit—or not
I described the neighborhood in the dream as a ghost town. Dead houses. And the houses represented Brandon’s family. There’s more to life than a heartbeat and brain function. What about love. What about truth. What about meaningful, caring relationships. What about our spiritual lives. What about God. What about surrendering our lives to Jesus. What about walking in step with the Holy Spirit.

Going to church doesn’t make someone a Christian any more than wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey makes someone a football player. Here’s a little rewind and repeat from one of my favorite posts—in the section poetically called Using the Religious Cover.

My father-in-law was a church elder and frequently prays in church. He looks and sounds good when he’s praying. He’s got this public praying thing down pat, like the Pharisees in the Bible.

Why the Christian show? Because it looks good. It looks really good. Besides, wolves like hanging out with sheep. It provides them with steady meals—someone to devour, toy with and/or throw around for entertainment. It also provides them with lots of sympathy and attention when they pour on the lies, chaos and constant complaining—and the dramatic prayer requests. It’s the most perfect cover and audience you could ever imagine, from their point of view.

Yes, indeed.

Windows and eyes
All the windows in the houses were gone. They were missing. What did that mean? Consider this saying: The eye is the window to the soul. Let’s see what Jesus said about these things.

“Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.
Matthew 6:19-24, World English Bible

Jesus spoke about earthly vs. heavenly treasurers—a life focused on The Here and Now vs. a life focused on eternal things—spiritual things. Then he spoke about the eye—what we’re focused on: The things of God vs. the things of evil. Lastly, he spoke about who we serve—God or wealth. In other words, What you treasure shows who you serve. We treasure/serve God or money. We treasure/serve God or ourselves. Is God in his rightful place in our lives or are we trying to be the god of our own little earthly kingdoms?

What does it mean when Jesus said If therefore your eye is sound? What is a sound eye? Dictionary.com gives two good definitions:
4. having no defect as to truth, justice, wisdom, or reason: sound advice.
5. of substantial or enduring character: sound moral values.

Do I look at people and the world with the heart of God? Do I seek to see beyond the physical, the obvious? Do I seek spiritual truths/realities?

What does it mean when Jesus said But if your eye is evil? What makes the eye evil? Do I look at people or situations with “an eye” focused on what I can get or take—how I can persuade or use? What are my intentions? Getting ahead? Getting even? Getting “what I deserve”? Getting what “they owe” me? Getting what I’ve decided is “fair”? Getting what “everybody else” has—in my warped, selfish assessment? What (or who) do I look for? What (or who) do I look at? Where is my focus?

What I focus on tells you who I am—and whose I am.

Let’s get back to the dream interpretation. Since eyes and windows are synonymous, the missing windows symbolize blindness. In the words of Jesus: “…how great is the darkness!” Spiritually blind. Dead. Lost. Evil.

Later in his life, Jesus was socking it to the Pharisees—who thought oh-so-highly of themselves. They were the religious hot shots and they wielded great power over the people.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Matthew 23:27-28, World English Bible

Other translations call the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs.” Nice paint job. But what’s inside is dead.

Powerful. Proud. Deceptive. Dead houses.

Connected—or not
Let’s get back to the windows—or non-windows, as the case may be. Windows allow us to look outside—beyond ourselves. Windows are a connection point. When people are connected, they consider other people’s needs and feelings. Some people don’t do that. People like Shelly. People like Mildred. People like Andrew. And people like Delia, Andrew’s sociopathic/narcissistic wife—Brandon’s mother.

Did Andrew marry someone who reminded him of Dear Old Mom? He sure did. But this one smiles.

Beautiful. Proud. Deceptive. Dead houses. Side-by-side.

Short and powerful
I had an interesting dream about Delia last year while we were coming home from our Spring Break vacation.

Tuesday, March 13
While Brandon was driving us home, I fell asleep for a split second and had a very short dream. I was looking at Brandon’s mom. She took off her white hair, which was actually a wig. Underneath, her real hair was short, wiry, reddish-brown and looked terrible. Then I woke up.

When I told Brandon about the dream later, he said, “That sounds just like Shelly. She drugged herself so much that it ruined her hair.” Hmmm.

That short dream painted a powerful picture. Delia is proud of her beautiful white hair. Her beauty is deceiving. In reality, she’s the same as Shelly—evil and falling apart from the inside out.

White hair. Whitewashed tombs. Dead houses.

White linen
Speaking of the color white, check out another colorful journal entry from last year.

Friday, September 27
A coworker asked about his parents today and Brandon said, “My parents are pure evil wrapped in white linen.”

Peaceful Readers, I think that says it all.

Just a quick side note. Linen = grave clothes—what the dead body is wrapped in when it’s laid in the tomb.

Whitewashed tombs. Dead houses.

What did these dreams show me? Deception and danger. Both dreams were warning dreams. Shelly and Mildred personified the crumbling houses, but the ghost town was vast. Other dangerous people remain—people like Andrew and Delia.

Translation: Beware. Do not forget what you’ve learned. Because the evil remains, the danger remains.

Guess who popped back into our lives after I started writing this post. I’ll give you one guess. Mm-hmmm.

Sociopaths. And maybe even an accomplice or two.

We remember our mantra: You play, you lose.

Hidden—or not
What do these dreams teach me about forgiving? Sometimes the need to forgive is hidden and other times it’s in your face.

My need to forgive Mildred laid hidden—like a deceptively whitewashed tomb. Her death was an example of this saying: Out of sight, out of mind. While I was writing this post, I realized that I needed to forgive her, for my sake. So I did.

In stark contrast, Delia and Andrew present a clear opportunity to forgive them whenever their chaos and manipulation rear their ugly, dead heads. I mean Dead Houses.

You know what I mean.

One more time
I’d like to close out this post by repeating the end of the first journal entry. It encourages me. I hope it’ll encourage you too.

My reading this morning was Joshua 12, about all the 31 kings that Israel had defeated under Moses and Joshua because the Lord was with them. The Lord fought for them and was with them as they battled their enemies. They were totally victorious. And so are we.

So. Are. We.

Coming next: I’ll be digging into more dreams. I wonder which ones…. Will I discover more things about the Dead Houses or the people in the house? Most definitely.

Until then, thanks for reading and for Choosing Peace.

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: John 4:23-26

Song for Healing: “He Who Is Mighty” by Sovereign Grace

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *