I’m home. Last Wednesday, I arrived in Atlanta, GA for debrief after twenty-four hours of flying. Last Friday, I drove to Monroe with my mom after a sleepless night and saying goodbye to the women who had become my family.
I’m home. That’s what I keep telling people. I’m home.
But that’s not the whole truth–not anymore. I used to think the word “home” was a word for where I lived. A word for where my family was, a word for where my room and my bed waited for me at the end of a long day (or at the end of a long three months). I used to think the word “home” could be defined simply by the people, the places, and the things that I grew up surrounded by.
Now I know that home is no longer just the house I live in for the next few months. I love that house, and I love my family who lives in it, so, yes, in one aspect I consider it home. And yet this trip has caused me to completely redefine “home.” Home is the Cambodian orphanage where I wrapped a crying child in my arms and promised him that Jesus loved him. Home is the market we prayer walked in, where I declared safety over the woman with the dirty snack shop. Home is the church we visited, where I sang the same song fifty times during a game we played for kid’s ministry. Home is the roof of our hostel in Bangkok, when we invited Jesus into the city and prayed light over the darkness there. Home is our base in Thailand, and the one room all ten of my teammates shared. Home is the girls I shared my life with and grew to love so profoundly. Home is the coffee stand I spent hours at every week, and home is the lady who ran that coffee stand and welcomed us each day. Home is a Thai rain forest, and the healing I found there. Home is the village of Suan Phung, where I discovered a powerful relationship in a little three-year-old girl who invited me into her life without hesitation.
Home is everywhere for me now. Home is the places and the people and the things that I have given my heart to. Home is now found in airports, villages, markets, and cities. My heart broke every time I said goodbye to one of these homes. I’ve left pieces of myself all over the world, pieces I can not get back. Most of these homes I will never return to. The reality of that is sad, and it’s hard. I’ve finally returned to the place I called home these three months only to realize I left home behind. I’m mourning these homes and this heartbreak with new perspective, and I’m starting to realize that this is how Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to fall so deeply in love with people that He’s died for, and with the places He’s created, that we say goodbye with broken hearts. And doesn’t He do His best work in the midst of the broken?
Home has a new meaning now, but that’s because I’ve loved well and I’ve scattered pieces of myself throughout this world with abandon and a trust that God will use those pieces long after I’ve left. I want to find new homes. I want to chase after this concept of “home” and allow God to use the ability He’s given me to love deeply as I pursue home after home. Despite this restlessness in my very soul that calls me to new homes, I can rest in the truth that, at the end of the day, He is my home in a more complete sense than any physical space or person will ever be. There is true beauty in calling new places home while also carrying the powerful truth that He is the most secure home this world has to offer.