In October of this year, our family will celebrate the fact that this home is the place where we have lived the longest together. The bar is low: our record is only four years and ten months in one location.
My husband and I started our life together in a tiny basement apartment near downtown Minneapolis. We then spent thirteen years in Asia: six homes in two countries. When we moved back to the U.S., we lived another three months with family before settling here. The idea of having a permanent, long term place is foreign to us.
But in place of permanence, my view of home has expanded.
Because while I’m thrilled that I might actually be in this place long enough to see the young trees in our yard grow tall and strong, that’s not what makes this place home.
I’ve learned that home is found in the places and people who hold my history. It’s in the moments when I can be myself completely, places where my soul can rest.
I experienced it in the close knit communities we discovered overseas, groups of people trying to figure out together how to live the expat life.
I felt at home in the smiles that lit on the faces of people who recognized the foreigner come back again to buy their produce at the market.
I found it on a college campus in a country where God is unknown, listening to worship songs that reminded me of God’s presence with me even on the far side of the sea.
I am at home here on holidays, when we celebrate every year with the same friends who have become like family.
I feel it every time I walk into the church I grew up in, where I can practically hear the echoes of our young voices in the halls.
I experience that sense of belonging in our church now, as I walk past familiar faces and there are actually people I want to talk to during meet and greet.
I see it in the faces of my family members who peer back at me over Facetime, our hearts connected over thousands of miles of distance.
I am home in a good conversation that saturates my soul with assurance that I’m not alone and everything will be ok.
I know it in a long walk with an old friend, when the years between dissolve as we pick up where we left off.
I find it in the relief that floods me when my husband comes through the door after traveling the globe, because part of my home has come back to me.
The smell of pancakes and bacon calls me back to family breakfast at my grandfather’s house, while the aroma of roti prata takes me back across the ocean to a group of friends sharing meals on a Sunday morning after church.
I even find it in the deepest moments of loneliness, when God whispers to me that the home I’m really searching for is His love. In the most isolated places, we still belong to Someone.
Home is less about a place and more about assurance—here you are seen, known, loved, kept. Here you have known life. As Jen Pollock Michel puts it in her book Keeping Place, “Home is the place for being recognized, received, remembered.”
God is the author of home. All of these places He has given me as a gift, both the tangible and intangible experiences. They all remind me that though I might struggle to find permanent roots on this earth, He is always providing places for me.
And from those places of belonging, we are called to be home for other people, to make a place for them to rest their souls and to know they are welcome as well.