There's Nowhere Like Home

“Where are you from?”

The answer to that question is not as complicated for me as it is for military or missionary kids. Still, it’s not as simple as it used to be.

The simple answer is that I’m from South Carolina. It’s where I grew up. Until I was twenty-five, I lived in the same town my whole life. (I did move away for college but I don’t really count that. I never considered my college town “home.”) But over the last ten years, I’ve made three significant moves. So, when you ask me where I’m from, I don’t want to tell you the simple answer, I want to tell you where I met my husband. I want to tell you where our marriage began. I want to tell you where our kids were born. I want to tell you where I live now.

I want to give you my entire history of “home.”

Where are you from?

When I was twenty-five, I moved to North Carolina to attend seminary. I only lived in Wake Forest for four years, but those four years were some of the most formative of my life. Most significantly, I met the man who would become my husband. Then, shortly after we got married, we moved to Houston.

I didn’t want to go to Houston. In fact, in talking with a close friend about our potential move, I think my exact words were, “I do not want to move to freaking Texas.” However, I had enough conviction about my calling, and when the Lord said “Go,” I was willing (if not super thrilled) to move.

Though Houston took some getting used to (to put it lightly), we grew to really love the city. It’s where our marriage really started. We bought our first house there, our kids were born there, and we had a great church community and fruitful ministry.

Then, just as we were really settling into our life in Houston, the Lord called us back to Wake Forest through job offers for both of us at our seminary. At first, we weren’t interested in moving back. We loved our time in seminary, but we were quite happy where we were. We loved our life in Houston, and by that point, we felt bound to the city if for no other reason than that’s where our kids were born.

But the Lord (again) said “Go,” so here we are. Though we were initially hesitant, we are thrilled to be back here. Like Houston, Wake Forest holds so much significance for us. I miss many things about the city, but there is so much I’m thankful for living here. I’m thankful to live closer to family. I’m thankful for the work and ministry we have through the seminary and our church. I’m thankful I can live in the same town as my friends and that they’re not also a half hour away because of mega-city traffic (did you know that Houston is an hour away from Houston?). It’s also nice to have trees in my backyard instead of concrete; birds chirping instead of cars and eighteen-wheelers as my daily soundtrack.

Nowhere Like Home

Though moving back to Wake Forest was, in some sense, like moving home, in other ways, it’s a new place for us. We came back to a town that had grown up. Where trees used to grow now sit cookie-cutter subdivisions and strip malls with mattress stores and retail health clinics. We joined a different church—one closer to our house. Most of our closest friends here moved away, so we hang out with different people than we did before.

We came back as different people and we brought two tiny, red-headed souvenirs with us. When we lived here the first time, we never intended to stay. And while we always have our “yes” on the table if God calls us somewhere else, this time around we’re starting to plant roots.

We came back to a town that should’ve already felt like home but didn’t. Though we feel at home here now, there’s still something that’s not quite settled in my heart about it. Two years in, I’m still surprised by how much I miss Houston. Heck, there are things I miss about living here the first time around. And every time I visit my parents, I’m filled with a weird, nameless emotion that’s something between nostalgia and homesickness.

I’ve realized, though, that this is exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Our True Home

Too often, I seek permanence in temporary places. It’s why I always resist when the Lord says, “Go.” It’s why I sometimes feel low-grade homesick, but for where, I don’t know. It’s why I’m frequently dissatisfied with the state of my house, reorganizing, adding decor, or dreaming of home improvements that might make it truly feel like home.

The truth is, nowhere on Earth is supposed to feel like home. The writer of Hebrews tells us in 13:14, “For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.” Paul exhorts us in Philippians and Colossians to keep our minds fixed on things above, because “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Like the saints who have gone before us, we are “foreigners and temporary residents on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

We seek a homeland, but it’s not here. We desire a better place (Hebrews 11:16), the place God has prepared for us. Heaven is our true home. This simple statement holds so much meaning for us in this life. It serves as a warning for us not to get too comfortable in a place. It is a source of comfort and hope for us when “home” is full of trials, disfunction, or worse. It frees us to build our tents anywhere out of obedience to God’s call, because we know that we are ultimately just passing through. It exhorts us to steward our time well on Earth, for life on it is a vapor.

What freedom that gives us. We can live in obedience to whatever the Lord calls us to do—wherever He calls to go. Instead of searching for utopia here on earth, we can confidently enter any place as sojourners and aliens, with a message of hope, deliverance, and the promise of a permanent home. Jesus has prepared that eternal home for us, one that will always satisfy and fulfill. One day we will sojourn no longer. One day, Christ will bring us into his Kingdom, to dwell in joy and peace with him forever.

Photo by Leslie Cross on Unsplash