I’ve ‘known things’ for most of my life.
It’s hard to explain, but it’s not uncommon for me to think about someone out of the blue and hear from them or learn something about them soon after. Most of time, it’s a ‘what if’ thought or a “I wonder” thought. “What if so-and-so were to find a new job?” “I wonder when so-and-so is going to have a baby?” Nine times out of 10, so-and-so announces a new job and so-and-so reveals a pregnancy.
I’ve had auditory experiences too, although those are far and few between. I heard a clear, crisp voice tell me to move to Nashville while sitting alone at a kitchen table in an otherwise quiet house. I’ve had a few experiences now where someone tells me something very direct that I know in the moment is a message from a power bigger than us. It happened just this weekend when a friend made a comment in passing that was exactly the answer to a question I posed to God several times over in recent weeks.
I’ve been trying to understand this ability of mine for a long time. I’ve read a lot of books, Googled a lot of strange phrases. Gone deep (deep) down the Reddit hole. I’ve tried to meditate, written countless pages in my journal. I asked my grandma about it once. She does the same thing – she always knows someone is going to call before the phone rings, knew my mom (her ex-daughter-in-law) had passed before anyone told her – but we didn’t get very far.
Essentially, I spun my wheels trying to understand why I can just discern things.
I grew up in a Baptist church where there was a lot of talk about fire, brimstone, and damnation. You believe what you’re told, what you know, until you don’t. I wrote a bit about how my belief system changed once I left my small hometown, but I’ve spent years trying to sort out my complicated relationship with the religion I was taught as a child and the loving God I’ve come to know as an adult. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be okay with “knowing things” after being told as a kid to “not say things like that” when I would mention someone was coming over to dinner despite there being no plans for company or insisting something was wrong despite the assurances that everything was fine.
Spoiler alert: We always had unexpected company for dinner and something was always wrong.
I’ve tried my best to understand how my inner knowing and my Christian beliefs worked together, if they did at all. I talk a lot about ‘spirit,’ which has a more general term for a belief in a higher power but for me, has always been the Holy Spirit. I reference the ‘universe’ sometimes, but I always mean God. I’ve never not considered myself a Christian, but what was this gift of claircognizance I’ve been given? Sometimes I searched for answers relentlessly. Other times I set the search aside and focused my attention elsewhere. Whenever I did that, something always brought me back to my journal and spiritual beliefs. God has a tendency to do that – grab your attention when you stick him on a shelf to collect dust for too long.
God grabbed my attention again over the summer.
I had a very vivid dream in July. I won’t go into detail – maybe one day, it feels too personal right now – but I’ve shared it with a few close friends. I’m not someone who dreams often and when I do, I don’t remember them. If I remember anything, it’s a random fragment or something whimsical and outlandish and I’ve forgotten it by lunchtime. But not this dream. This dream felt real. I woke up and remembered it in great detail. A couple of days later, with the dream still nagging me and as vivid as ever, I felt pulled to write it out in my journal. And as I did, I remembered that it was “Part 2” of a dream I had a year earlier. I don’t remember much of that one, but I do remember it took place in same location with the same people.
Especially because its a place I’ve never been and with people I know but have never actually met.
There were other occurrences in my waking life that harkened back to the dream. Things that just couldn’t be a coincidence. I began to wonder: what did it mean?
Of the course of journaling and asking ‘spirit’ what it meant, I remembered hearing Kailey Dickerson talk about having prophetic dreams on a podcast. Her dreams were also mentioned in Lauren Akins’ book, Live In Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes. I went back and listened to the podcast and heard her testimony about faith, began to think maybe my knowings and now, a dream, weren’t so “don’t say things like that” after all. I thought “wouldn’t it be nice if Kailey had a podcast?” and remembered Lauren had a podcast that I had started listening to back in the spring. I listen to podcasts while I work and I was craving something besides my usual true crime and pop culture selections so I cued it up where I left off – a conversation with her dad, Steve, in which he talks about his own faith journey in great detail.
The same faith journey that included a vivid dream about his future wife, Lauren’s mom, Lisa. There it was – more talk about prophetic feelings and dreams. Inspired by Steve’s story, I started to pray more. I had been journaling a couple of times a week, reading my devotional in the mornings, but I wasn’t really praying. I started to ask for discernment, for purpose. I shared a little about that – and how Jesus called me out – here.
And danged if Kailey didn’t announce a podcast where over the course of having a conversation with her friends, she talks a lot about her dreams and listening to the Lord. Inspired and my faith refueled, I started to talk to God more. And the more I listened in turn, the more He talked. Finally, I mustered up the courage and I asked him if ‘The Dream’ was from Him, told him I didn’t need context or for Him to tell me what it meant, I just needed to confirm that the dream was God-sent. We have time for discernment later. I got specific – big fan of being specific with God – and requested a certain song if it came from him. “I want you to play this song when I get in the car and hit shuffle on Spotify.”
I got in the car.
Turned it on.
The bluetooth connected.
I hit the shuffle button like I always do.
And that song – which has ‘God’ in the title – came on.
Out of almost two hundred songs on that playlist, that song came on.
Well then. Affirmed.
God kept talking to me about dreams though. And He kept using podcasts.
I listen to Annie F. Downs’ podcast from time to time, but I’m not a frequent flyer. (See the above habit of defaulting to pop culture and true crime…) For whatever reason, I decided to see what recent episodes she had posted and there was one with Mattie Jackson Selecman. Mattie lost her husband a few weeks before their first wedding anniversary in a freak accident. I’d heard her on Lauren’s podcast a couple of weeks earlier and she spoke so eloquently about grief and faith that I decided to give her episode with Annie a listen.
Mattie – and friends and family – had God-given dreams about her late husband. She didn’t go into too much detail as it was the end of the episode, but she mentioned she wrote about some of them in her book, Lemons on Friday, which I pre-ordered while I listened.
After the podcast, I needed a screen break. It was 11:15am and I had been looking at spreadsheets full of numbers for four hours straight. Griff has big puppy energy so I took him for a walk around the block to take the edge off. While out, I realized something profound in that fast and sudden “AHA!” kind of manner:
God has been affirming my knowing – and my dream – for weeks. Through podcasts. And books. And a song. He’s been telling me yes, you have a gift, and yes, I gave it to you. Repeatedly. I got tears in my eyes as I walked. He’s been talking to me for weeks, I just needed to open my eyes – or in this case, my ears – to see (hear) it.
Later that night, after a long day at work followed by a three-hour class, I had to make a quick stop at the grocery store. I like to pray in the car – sitting in traffic on the 405 is a great time for that – and I had a good prayer session before I ran into Ralph’s for toilet paper and carrots (how random). When I got back in the car, I was feeling pretty connected to God in the moment and so I said “Hey, if I’m tracking all of this, can you play that song when I turn on the car and hit shuffle?”
I turned on the car.
I hit shuffle.
That song came on.
The same song I’ve asked for three times and received three times.
I still don’t know what ‘The Dream’ means. I don’t know if it’s literal or a metaphor or some combination thereof. But I do know it means something and that God will reveal it to me when the timing is right. I know He’s speaking to me, giving me guidance, providing me with tools to help others. I know that He’s given me a gift and that He keeps asking me – over and over again – to “share my story.”
So that’s what I’m doing. Or at least trying to. I’m talking to Him. I’m listening to Him. I’m (trying) to follow the path He’s pushing me down so very clearly. I keep asking him HOW to share my story – is it the books, both fiction and non-fiction, I want to write? The podcast I want to start? The TV shows I want to create? I’m pretty sure He just wants me to start sharing and so, I’m trying. I need to push the plow to sow the seed He’s given me.
We all have a unique gift. We all have the ability to talk to God. And we can all hear His voice too, if we’re willing to listen and believe.
Trust me – when He talks? It’s incredible.
You just have to listen.