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3 chairs suspended

Photo: Alice Cecil

One night many years ago I had a dream. It was one of those rare dreams in which God spoke. It was an odd dream in the sense that it happened on a two-dimensional surface. However, the objects and people on the two-dimensional surface were three-dimensional. Picture a flat surface, like a piece of paper, with three chairs lined up near the bottom. I was sitting in the middle chair. To my left was my mother. To my right was a daughter. (Though I have three daughters, the female figure to my right in the dream was only revealed to me as “daughter,” not one particular daughter.)

When the dream began, I was talking with my mother, intently trying to communicate an idea to her, the nature of which was also not revealed. My mother did not respond, but turned away from me. I sat for a moment and then got up. The daughter said, “Where are you going?” I did not answer, but walked to my right and up the two-dimensional flat surface along the edge to the top. God was in the center at the top. I stopped at that top corner, turned and faced out. Then the dream ended.

As both mothers and daughters, we can lose sight of who we are. We are not our mothers, daughters or anyone else. Even in our relationship with God, we are in Christ (John 14:18-20), not absorbed into him. We are in Christ as the separate, unique individuals God made us to be. In our desire to please other people, we can attach our identity to them. When we do, we will damage our relationship with God and, ironically, render ourselves less effective to minister to the people in our lives.

To help us understand God’s desire for us, we can ask ourselves a series of questions: Do we want our daughters to function as unique, loving individuals? Or do we want them to be so caught up in their concern for us, for their children or for another person, that they lose sight of who they were meant to be as individuals? Do we want our daughters to live to please us or live to please God?

How then would God have us live out his desire that we be loving, unique individuals in Christ? Romans 14:17-18 answers: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and [then] approved to men.”

Our first focus is to please God. Then the door to the approval of people (our mothers and daughters included) will open; it will open when we serve Christ out of his imputed righteousness and in peace and joy. (I did not see very much peace and joy in me in the dream when I was sitting in the middle chair.)

Many of us, who are mothers, are in the middle now of three generations. We interact with the generation “to our left” and the generation “to our right.” It is our turn to witness the peace and joy of Romans 14:17-18 to our daughters, who will one day be in our position—in the middle chair.

~ A.R. Cecil