Where’s home for you?
I saw a piece of art in someone’s house here in Al Ain that said, “Home is Where You Are.” It was on a rugged piece of wood, painted over an outline of the continents of the world. For a few minutes it resonated with me. Yes, home is where you are! You find yourself in some part of the world, and you do what you can to settle and grow and root. To make it your home. I’m used to this. I moved 13 times by the time I was a freshman in college. I’m up to 20 now. Twenty moves in 39 years. It’s true that many of those were within the same city. Eight in Calgary. Three in Regina. Two in Chilliwack. But several were not local moves. Eight times I’ve uprooted to a new town or city or country. So I know a thing or two about making new friends, establishing community, and creating a new home.
For that reason, the whole “Home is where you are” thing sounded good to me upon first reading. But somewhere in the back of my head I also heard the old familiar cliche, “Home is where your heart is.” And more than ever, that resonated with me too. Because I’m right here in Al Ain and it doesn’t feel like home yet. My heart is still somewhere else. As a family, we catch ourselves saying things like, “Back at home,” and “When we’re home again.” We still refer to Chilliwack as home even though we have no actual house there anymore. What would make us call Chilliwack home other than the fact that our hearts still reside there?
So, is home where you are, or is home where your heart is? I sat in this near-stranger’s house and pondered which cliche I most believed, and couldn’t come up with an answer. I even looked up the definition of “home” in my handy dandy online dictionary. (Don’t worry, I didn’t look up this definition while visiting my new friend. I promise I did that later. In all my lessons about new friendships, I’ve learned that looking up proper word definitions to correct someone’s art work is not a great strategy for building strong relationships.) Anyway, the definition of home is, “The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” Well, I’ve never lived anywhere permanently, so that wasn’t particularly helpful in answering my immediate question.
So, forget the dictionary – common sense and life experience tell me that, eventually, where you are becomes where your heart is, and the two cliches collide. Because every single time I’ve moved, I’ve left a piece of myself behind and it hurts to pull away. I know my heart was taking root in each place. So even though I’m currently conflicted on where I call home, deep down I know my heart is slowly starting to growing roots here. Honestly, I can’t feel it yet, but I believe it as surely as I believe a seed will root in fertile soil. This may never be my permanent home, but it is becoming home for now.
And the truth is, no home here on earth is permanent for me anyway.
“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
My heart is fully invested in the home God is preparing for me, and thankfully, nothing will ever uproot me from there.