Home. . .It is a word and a concept that I have been thinking about a lot about lately. We left home for a new adventure and while that sounds exciting (and it is), no one could have prepared me for how devastating it can feel at moments not to have a home. I am the wife, the mama, the woman who has had the word homemaker tattooed to my soul for over 18 years. I am almost 40 years old and I feel too old to feel this vulnerable. I have big kids who are feeling just like I am and expressing it to me and I don’t have a ton to offer. We all agree that we actually like this new place a lot, but not being in the familiar all the time leaves us feeling shaky at best. We are not even a month into it, but the “what have we done” moments have been many. It feels like we have freely given away something precious without really knowing what we were doing. I believe with all my heart that we are supposed to be here, but you are supposed to count the cost and no one can count the cost of giving up home. It just can’t be done, because you can’t understand the cost until it’s too late.
Tomorrow morning, we move into a house that we will rent for 6 months. It will be good. It has a hot tub, so it has to be good. It is furnished. . .with other people’s stuff. What if I hate the mattress? (Who else has slept on that mattress?) It is a perfect scenario while we figure out our new surroundings and it.will.be.good.
I have been so tempted to get materialistic about how to make this rental home. I went shopping at thrift stores and discount stores for an afternoon trying to find items that would make this place feel like home. I returned with a pizza cutter, because when the pressure was on, it was the only item I could decide on. I was able to be sure about just that. . .so silly. The things that would make this place feel like home are in warehouse on the other side of the ocean and they won’t be coming over until we are sure about where will live permanently. Getting by in the meantime is not going to feel like home because of something that I can buy.
What is home? It is where you are comfortable. It is where you know that you accepted and safe. It is where you have what you need. In this new culture, every time we encounter something new that we were not expecting, that feeling is challenged. When we call to set up car insurance only to learn that you can’t unless you have a bank account here, but you can’t have a bank account until you sign a permanent address, you don’t feel accepted. You make a comment that is misunderstood because you used a colloquialism from your country and you feel like you don’t have what you need. When English speaking people use words that you have never heard before, it feels uncomfortable – not in a disdainful way, but in fish-out-of-water sort of way.
This week, we had the opportunity to join our new church in their annual Holiday Bible Club. That is VBS where I come from and it has always been my favorite week of the summer. There, for 4 hours each day, we felt at home. It is not because it was done just like the US, but our family felt accepted, wanted and welcomed. Some things were different than what we were used too (bacon buddies to start off the day, anyone?), but I didn’t feel uncomfortable because I was so comfortable with the purpose of sharing God’s gospel and love with children. It opened my eyes to what home means.
So as the homemaker of this tribe, I am realizing that my chief job is to dispense grace. That was what was going on at HBC this week, to me, my family and all of those beautiful kids. That is where home is going to be found in the coming months. I have found myself trying to maintain routine and order to the negligence of grace and it is ugliness. It is not bringing home to this place. (There is no order or routine to be found anyway when you are going on week four of living out of a suitcase.) My husband and my kids need to be comforted, feel accepted, safe and have what they need (which has very little to do with matching silverware.) Deep breaths, cups of tea, movie nights, long walks, a listening ear and a continual reassurance that our eyes are fixed upon God above for everything thing we are feeling and missing. That is what my precious family needs from me during this time where we are not yet at home. Familiarity feels like it is a long way off, but home can be found among us where grace abounds.
Home is wherever God is and God is ever with me. – Rebekah Lyons
Gayle Voege Buckman says
Beautifully Written, Amy! Love you!
Kathleen Cole says
Amy, I felt that way for a long time after we came here. I just wanted to go back to Missouri. Moving here was a big adventure but once we got here I felt lost. It just takes time. I pray for all of you everyday. It is a big change.
Joy Osborne says
Ok- so you should definitely blog. You have a gift.
Hugs from Kentucky.
I love your realness. It’s a challenge in foreign living for sure. I can’t offer reassurance that it’ll come and will feel like home soon. No, it takes a long time. Not only that, the more comfortable/adjusted you get there the less the US will feel like home when you return (sorry, I know that’s not encouraging) because you will change and develop and gain a different worldview that people at “home” won’t understand. But, this world is not our home. This feeling of not being home is really reality. We’re not home. But someday…! Our place of ultimate belonging! In the meantime we do what we can to create a piece of that here for our people and you are great at that! You all will get through this in fine shape, though it’s rough in the process.
Amy Mullens says
Thank you, Sarah! It is so very true – we are not home yet!