They’ve been recurring lately for my littlest. Sometimes our house is burning and she can’t get us to wake up. Other times an intruder is stealing some hidden money and she is the only one at home. (Funny that there is no hidden $ in our house…) She wakes up scared and comes into my room for comfort.
Having these dreams doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to me. She comes by it honestly. Her older brother’s first nightmares were about Goliath coming after him. No matter how much we try to shield them from scary things, fearful dreams can come even from Bible storybooks! I also remember dreaming a terrible nightmare for years as a child. My brother and I were in a river and the water was rushing. He was holding out his hands for me and I was trying to get to him. I would almost reach him and the current would suddenly sweep him away. I would wake up terrified and sometimes even got up to go to his room and make sure he was okay.
Just last month before the taping of the Jeremiah Bible study in Nashville, I dreamed that I was sitting in an audience with no makeup and greasy hair. Someone I didn’t know approached me and said, “Okay, go on up and teach.” I was like, “I thought that was tomorrow.” I went up and stammered over my words and couldn’t find the verse I was looking for before I mercifully woke up.
While I can bet stress had something to do with that dream, I have no idea about my childhood river scenario or what is causing the nightmares of the last few weeks that are interrupting my daughter’s sleep. While I may not know the causes, I have found a few practices helpful over the years of parenting. Some things we do when bad dreams persist:
- Let my child tell me about the nightmare so we can see that her dreams and reality contrast each other. There are no fires or intruders. She is not alone. She is safe and loved.
- Praying at night before she goes to bed for her sleep to be protected.
- Speaking some Scriptures about sleep with her and also over her as I check on her when I head to bed.
This isn’t a magic formula to stop the nightmares, but as we consistently practice these – I know this season of nighttime fear will pass. She is my fourth child so we’ve been through this before. My son doesn’t dream about Goliath chasing him anymore, and I haven’t seen a river in the middle of my nighttime slumber since high school.
Here are some verses that I find especially helpful to pray, speak, and discuss when struggling with sleep issues.
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” Psalm 4:8
“Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” Psalm 121:4
“You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.” Proverbs 3:24 (when you hold on to common sense and discernment)
“When you walk, their counsel will lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up, they will advise you.” Proverbs 6:22 (Obedience to your father and mother gives you protected sleep according to this passage!)
If you are dealing with nightmares, insomnia, or anxiety whether in your life or for your children – I pray your season is short and sweet sleep returns to your home soon.