In the late summer of 2014, I had a dream. It wasn’t very long, but certainly vivid. I dreamt that an angel of God visited me at the Tabor apartment in Fairfield (California, USA) where I had grown up. This man didn’t appear to be an angel however – no big, fluffy wings you see in paintings, or gold, radiant halos – I just…knew. He was wearing ordinary human clothes – if I remember correctly, he was wearing a forest green polo with khakis; his skin was dark and radiant and soft, and his smile – with perfect teeth and all – seemed wider than any river; he had a bald head (actually, now that I think about it, he looked like a holy Cee-Lo Green!). As I was ushering him out the door (at this point, I wasn’t sure what he’d come for), I noticed my brother lingering at the corner my eye. I turned and was puzzled by his curious gaze. “You can see him?” I asked. For some reason, I surmised that only I could see this nameless, human-looking angel. My brother voiced a sardonic “DUH” and walked away. I remember thinking, interesting…my brother can see him too. I returned to kindly showing the angel out. I did not go beyond the doorstep; there, in the quiet of evening, I bade him farewell. He walked out, but stopped after a couple steps. He looked back, his smile still radiant. “Remember LUV 1:2-3,” he said softly. “It’s needed as a portal.” In my dream, I recognized this LUV as if it were a book from the bible, like the book of Matthew or something. I smiled in recognition, lucidly connecting this LUV to ACTS 3:5-6.
Then, I awoke, quizzical as usual after a vivid dream. My first thought was, LUV 1:2-3? That is certainly not in or part of the bible, though it seemed like it was in the dream. The angel even referred to it. I began to analyze my dream…hmmm…he also said it’s needed as a portal…portal…baptism? St. Peter, keeper of the gates? But I was baptized…nothing connected!
Suddenly, a light bulb turned on: ACTS 3:5-6. I jolted out from my bed and hastily grabbed my bible. ACTS 3:5-6: “When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” He paid attention to them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.” My eyes grew as round as golf balls because this brought to mind me and Ezra’s (name changed for confidentiality purposes) conversation in the car ride home the previous night from a Catholic event (Catholic Underground to be specific). We were talking about often not feeling good enough, not having enough or certain characteristics we think we need to pursue our particular callings, and yet, still feel a strong pull to them. Ezra shared that during one of her adoration sessions, she was proclaiming to our Lord, heart heavy, in response to her calling to a particular ministry, that she had nothing, nothing at all; feeling like she couldn’t do what she felt was being asked of her. I immediately empathized with Ezra because those feelings of inadequacy were all too familiar. I grew up with it after all; as if inadequacy was the name of my evil twin. Throughout the years, I can honestly say that I’ve made serious strides in squashing that crippling self-deprecation through deep prayer and some self-help reading. But what Ezra said after she shared her adoration session, what God told her, touched me so deeply and was affirmation not only for her that she was on the right path, but affirmation for me. She said that God, in all his mystery and love, quieted her anxious heart and gently replied, “But I CAN.” I didn’t ask Ezra how the Lord’s response sounded, but I imagined it to be booming, yet comforting. God spoke to Ezra and through her, he also spoke to me. All those times convincing myself “I can’t” suddenly didn’t matter because God CAN. All I had to do was put forth my best effort, and he would take care of the rest. I believe that is what my dream was all about – that God sent one of his angels to personally reaffirm me that he doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called; to personally quiet the remnants of my self-doubt and to hopefully banish my evil twin Inadequacy for good. After all, some of the most prominent people of our faith weren’t perfect – Peter had a temper, Thomas was a doubter, Elijah was depressed, Moses lacked speaking skills, etc. – and yet, God called them. As if the visiting angel wasn’t comforting enough, I was left with a tangible piece (to look up after I awoke) from Luke’s Acts of the Apostles that only corroborated the importance of accepting ourselves in fullness. God made us the way we are equipped with certain gifts to fulfill our individual purpose, so we are to embrace that purpose free of fear and doubt. In Acts, Peter said that he had neither silver or gold, but could and would give what he had. It seems clear that in my own life (and maybe in Ezra’s?), the silver and gold represents the things or characteristics I don’t have but think I need in order to fulfill my passions and callings more effectively. But because we are called to follow and be like Jesus, who embraced his purpose with all his heart even to the point of death, the dream seemed to tell me to be like Jesus through Peter in Acts, that though I did not posses “silver” or “gold”, I am to give myself fully to my calling to the best of my abilities with no measure, no comparison, not wishing I had anything more than what I already have for with God, it IS enough – enough to help others “rise and walk” (which could mean helping others in need, etc), for with God, nothing shall be impossible. Thus, what I have IS enough. Fulfilling my mission in the name of Jesus is all that matters. That’s what I realized with my writing and music after all. In the past, I often asked God why I felt called to evangelize his word through these mediums when I knew a handful of other writers and musicians who clearly surpassed my skills. This mentality harvested a dubious nature: am I good enough? Am I talented enough? I’m not as charismatic as the other guy…will people like me? Yet, I found myself leading music; I found myself with an inextricable desire to put things into words. And, always to my surprise (because I’d fostered doubt), I found myself with opportunities, not realizing until now that such opportunities were from God as encouragement for fulfilling what I am meant to do. As mentioned, with persistent and profound prayers and my dedication to personal development, I was able to overcome my crippling insecurities, which has exponentially enlarged my capacity to fulfill my purpose. For example, I realized that it wasn’t being largely self-taught that immensely contributed to my musicality today, but the depth of my desire for it – the depth of my passion – and focusing it to fulfill God’s purpose for me. Honestly, Mr. Doubt and Mrs. Insecurity visit every now and then, insisting on coming in to linger for a bit, but I’ve finally managed to harness the power NOT to open the door. I leave them out on the doorstep, out of my heart, until they leave. And eventually, they do.
After recognizing this, another light bulb turned on: LUV 1:2-3…not a bible verse, but the commandments of the Lord (from Matthew 22:37-39): “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It became clear: doubting ourselves actually goes against one of God’s greatest commandments. We must love ourselves in order to have room in our hearts to love others more like Jesus loved, to love more freely and selflessly. Love of self is acceptance of self. Loving yourself does not mean to boast or be pompous, it’s quietly knowing that you are worthy beyond measure. Living in a world that confines our worth to a one-size-fits-all box, it’s easy to succumb to its definition, which falls short of the worth God has assigned to each one of us. After all, he gave his only son to die for us…shouldn’t that be enough to know our worth? So this is the portal: we must learn to accept ourselves for who we truly are, and stop trying to be who we’re not. We must stop trying to be who we think the world wants us to be. Only then can we truly heal from the wounds of self-doubt and know our worth. Only then can we be true servants of God.
This picture was taken at Parco Adriano in Rome, just outside of Vatican City