hands in the air

This is a story about an event that happened a number of years ago. I can now see and choose to believe that this event was an important experience God used to begin wakening the Warrior inside me.

It was a hot, sweaty Texas summer day when I pulled up in the Mall parking lot in my AMC Hornet. As I walked across the parking lot to Sears I started hearing some talking going on in my head. The voices in my head were low, mumbling and very critical. As I walked and listened I became aware of who was speaking ill of me—it was the “dream police.”

I try to sleep, they’re wide-awake, they won’t leave me alone
They don’t get paid to take vacations, or let me alone
They spy on me, I try to hide, they won’t let me alone
They persecute me, they’re the judge and jury all in one

’cause they’re waiting for me
They’re looking for me
Ev’ry single night they’re driving me insane
Those men inside my brain

The dream police, they live inside of my head
The dream police, they come to me in my bed
The dream police, they’re coming to arrest me

(Cheap Trick, Dream Police)

The dream police are the folks inside your head that tell you what others likely think of you. Sometimes they talk nice and are helpful, other times they are mean and unfair. That day they were talking trash because they didn’t think Greg had Mall clearance. They pointed at me, saying something like, “You’re fat! Your clothes are frumpy! You’re poor, and look at your pathetic rattle-box car. You don’t see any cars around here looking like yours, do you?. And your hair, it looks goofy. You have a big nose and a huge underbite. You smile like a clown, but you’re not funny, and people don’t like you.”

Usually I wouldn’t have paid this police brutality any mind. Usually the dream police get a free ride—they wag their mental fingers and spew their derision—all in the safety of the misty drowse of the semi-conscious mind. But that day they went just a bit too far. Perhaps too their timing was bad—as the steamy hot Texas sun was also beating down on me. Whatever it was, something deep in me got rousted in a way that would change my life forever. I was ready for a fight. In a split second I basically said to the dream police,

“so…, you think I’m a bit strange do you…let me tell you something….you haven’t seen nothin’ yet! I call your bluff and raise you, big time!” “your messin’ with the wrong guy today!…you are judging me!?…what have I done to deserve this?…you don’t know anything about me, and here you are judging me by the most trivial of standards—how I dress, my body composition, my car—what kind of shallow life do you people have that you sit around judging me that way. Have I stolen from you? Have I hurt you? Have I spit at you? Have I lied to you? No. But there you are acting as though I have committed some grave offense by not coming to the Mall looking like you. You know nothing about me. Maybe I am poor. Maybe I didn’t have time to fancy up. Maybe I was too busy taking care of the needs of my sick child or elderly neighbor. Whatever the reason, I don’t owe you a reason. So, folks you think I look weird and goofy do you?. Well, let me show you what I think about you and your petty verdicts….”

It was then, just as I was entering Sears, that I did something strange. I made a promise to myself. “I promise that I will raise my arms in the air and not lower them until I have passed through Sears into the Mall proper.” As I stepped into the store I raised my arms. I could almost hear the dream police saying, “…you stupid idiot! What are you doing? You butt-headed loon bird—get your hands down immediately--you disgust me!” For a split moment I cringed in fear. But then I remembered the promise that I had had strategically made only moments before. I reached higher--hands in the air, walking straight down the aisle--wondering if anyone was looking at me and what they might think of me.

But as I reached the Mall proper and lowered my hands, a wonderful thing happened, one that has always since given me strength and hope. In that moment I felt a rush of freedom come on me—like I had just cast off heavy chains and escaped a vile prison. I walked through the Mall—just as frumpy, just as ugly, just as poor, just as messy haired, vehicle-challenged, fat and unsexy as I had always been. The thing that was different was that I no longer cared. Somehow hands in the air had shaken the hold of the dream police. They, of course, would be back, but I had put them on notice that day and forever.