September 9, 2013

When You Don't Feel At Home

This is the third in a series of posts that you voted to hear more about from the 30 Things I Learned About God, Myself, and Ministry This Summer. The first, in case you missed it, is here: Ministry and Unhealthiness, and the second is here: Sabbath Rest (Where Can I Get Me Some of That?).

There were several times this summer while we were away on sabbatical when I accidentally thought about Texas when I thought of going home. I even slipped once or twice when I said, "In College Station.." instead of "In Charlottesville.." in the midst of conversations with Kyle. These slips of thought and word surprised me, because, although I am originally from Texas, we have lived in Virginia for five years and it is very much where our lives are rooted. For whatever reason, my mind just kind of kept going to Texas, even to the point where when we met people and introduced ourselves, it felt more right and natural to say we were from Texas instead of Virginia.
This was unsettling to me. Not having a permanent home for eight weeks caused this, I think, but it also caused me to consider how I define "home". I often think of my home as the house we live in and the stuff that we store in our home or decorate our home with. Living with just a few of our possessions and a couple of outfits put an end to that definition.

But I also define home (and myself) according to cities and states, and I realized this summer that I have tried to figure out where my home is for five years now. We visit our family in our beloved Texas and it only feels 75% like home (100% while dining at a Tex-Mex restaurant), but in Virginia, a place that we love and have built a life in, there is still a small part of me that doesn't feel it's home. Where is home anymore? This really can be a question more about my comfort and identity than anything else.

Then, in a totally different "home"of California this summer, I read this:

"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come" (Hebrews 13:12-14).

As a Christian, I identify myself with Jesus, who the Bible says had no certain place to lay His head at night. He embraced the isolation of going outside the gate, because He knew His greater purpose. He didn't belong to a specific group of people; in fact, He was rejected by the one group of people He could have identified with. If I identify with Him, what does that say about my home? It means that no city or state or house is my home. It means that my longing for familiarity and my desire for home will never be satisfied in Texas or Virginia or anywhere else I may live in my life. It means that as long as I am on earth, Christ Himself is my city. I am to identify with Him more than I am a physical earthly place.

That passage was helpful for me to read on so many levels. It's OK that I feel this restless desire for home. It's freeing that my security and comfort are not in things that change. I am meant for another place, and so when I smell a smell or taste a taste that reminds me of a place I've called home, instead of feeling homesick for that place, I can feel homesick for Heaven. And the best part: If Christ is my city, I can traipse all over this globe and never once not be at home.
I love how C.S. Lewis puts it in The Weight of Glory:
"In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you--the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence...Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter...The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things--the beauty, the memory of our own past--are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."