Monday, September 1, 2014

who/what/where is home anyway?

In a less than 24 hours, we will leave “home” in order to go “home.”

… Cue all the emotional chaos that is exp-at life/raising a third-culture child.

We have tried so hard to only reference “home” when talking about our “home” in Fimpulu, but somewhere along the way we must have referred to America as “home,” because even while standing in our kitchen in our “home” in Fimpulu Bronwyn has, more than once asked when we are going “home.” I feel you, baby. It’s confusing to me too.

I’ve never much liked all of the cliché references to home that are out there.

Well the internet is certainly not helpful here. I have no greater understanding of what “home” really means now than before I clicked all those links, and who does the internet think it is anyway, defining vast and profound metaphorical concepts with nothing but pictures?

“Home is where the heart is.”  

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Sometimes home gives me beautiful and feelings and fills my heart with joy. But, sometimes home makes my heart hurt so badly I have to leave. Sometimes home does not feel like home to me.

“Home isn’t a place, it’s a person.”

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There are many times when the people I love are in multiple places. Sometimes the ones I love the most are not with me and I feel like I’m in exile. Sometimes my people are at arms reach and my soul still stirs with a longing that home does not provide.

“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.”

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I’ve felt every emotion possible about all the places I’ve called home. This idea insinuates that home should be all warm-fuzzy-wonderful-feelings... and what if its hard? What if home is where I'm sick or what if its dangerous or what if its lonely? Then what? What is home to me then?

“Home is a long bear hug.”

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What does that even mean?

In recent months, I’ve thought a great deal about how I will explain to Bronwyn why we call many places home; why sometimes we are leaving home and sometimes we are returning home, why sometimes we are content to be at home and sometimes we are longing for home.

This is the stuff that lands TCK’s in counseling as young adults, and I feel I owe her something here. If I cannot protect her from Malaria and if she must skype her grandparents over pitiful connections and if her poo will never be solid for all the random dirt she shoves in her mouth than AT LEAST I SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION FOR HER. What do I, her mother, mean when I talk about home?

I cannot profess to have the “right” answer to this. I have one idea only and it comes not from the depths of my wisdom but rather from the rawness of my gut – as I’ve wrenched this answer out through elation and depression, trying to make sense of it all.

The idea that I consistently come back to is that home is neither location or person or house or heart. Feelings are fickle and its easy enough to get on a plane and go, but the constant in the home equation is significance. Home, then, is the place where I wake up with a fire in my bones. Home is where my passions mesh with the course of human history and I dare to imagine. Home is where I need to be if the fullness of God is to create fullness in me. Home is where my presence, my head, my heart and my hands matter.

I want Bronwyn to understand this, that most of the time, home is in Zambia because that is where our lives currently matter the most.

When one of the young men we’ve put through school tears up and says, “you’ve changed my life…”

When the orphan’s caretaker lets us know, “she would have died without you…”

When I hold the slippery babe and wait for its first cry…

When the old man tracks me down to say, “I never dreamed of seeing books like this…

When the gathered women sit and sing and say, “We know God loves us because YOU love us…


the namesakes: Michael Colvin and Beauty Bethany. this is what matters

And yes, sometimes home is hard, and sometimes it is lonesome. Sometimes we leave home to go home because the revival found in one home matters as much as the life transformation in another. But when the sabbath has done its good work and we start dreaming of Zambia, we often start speaking in terms of, “We’re ready to go home,” which simply means, our purpose here is done, and it is time to fulfill our purpose there once more.

As we’ve been preparing for this upcoming trip home, I’ve had a hard time coping with the thought of leaving Zambia. It has been an emotional few weeks with me worrying about Patience and praying for resources, and just trying to accomplish too much in too little time. More than once I’ve tearfully pleaded with Jeremy, “Let’s just stay, I don’t want to go, I don’t want to leave our home.” Jeremy’s only response was, “I’m glad you feel that way,” and what he means is, “I’m glad you feel significant here. I’m glad this work is worth it. I’m glad you realize how much this matters.”

I’m glad too. And I want for Bronwyn to know this: That gladness of home is found where our presence matters, if we are in the places God has prepared for us, and when our work reflects our true and better home, prepared for us in heaven.  

What about you? Where do you call home?

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