Do you ever wonder if home is a real thing? Ya know, that homey home with love and snuggles and laughter that we imagine home should be. Is it a tangible place made of more than just ideals? Have you wandered out of a broken place, a place that was supposed to be a home and family, aching for somewhere to belong and being disappointed time and again?
Do you find yourself dreaming of a love that makes room for your messiness? A safe retreat where you can be fully known and, at the same time, fully accepted?
Even if we’ve had a wonderful home and family, we can still be yearning for a higher ideal as we forget all the things we have and long for the things we have not. We imagine a safe place where we can relax and let down our guard. Where everyone works together. Where laughter is genuine and grace is credible. A place where we are known.
The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.Maya Angelou
Although there are wonderful homes and families, when we’re feeling low, it can look like we just messed up and missed out. But no relationship is perfect, and no family is perfect because no person is perfect and our relationships are just as messy as we are. Every family is a dysfunctional family.
Sometimes we have looked for the solution to the ache for love and acceptance and safety within ourselves. If I love, protect and accept myself, then who can hurt me? Correct? We retreat into our safe place and harbor there.
Or, conversely, we flaunt our independence and dare anyone to break through our veneer to our vulnerable, creamy centers.
I believe in home. And yes, it’s in me. And yes, it’s around me. It’s based on relationship more than physical space. But it isn’t found where I really I expected.
The God Shaped Hole
Have you ever heard that people have a God-shaped hole? It’s called your spirit. And of all the wonderful beings and creations of God, there is nothing that can satisfy the longing of our spirits except the Spirit of God. It’s my spirit that can’t find rest in earthly homes as much as I love hospitality, relationships and beautiful surroundings.
“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” Psalm 84:3.
Often among others I feel small and insignificant like the sparrow or swallow of this verse. I feel like people don’t really know me or care to know me. But knowing that I have a home, in my spirit which can be filled with God’s Spirit, means that I’m not depending on others or on myself for the belonging that I need. And suddenly, instead of being a black hole of need, I am filled to overflowing to offer what I didn’t know I had to give.
Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.St. Augustine
Have you ever noticed in the Gospels that Jesus welcomes the marginalized? The Samaritan woman in John 4 is just one example. Jews did not associate with Samaritans. Men did not associate with women. An unloved and rejected woman, she was ashamed enough of her own life that she came to a well in the middle of the day to avoid the gossip of others who would come in the morning. And Jesus saw her. He acknowledged her presence. He spoke to her. He asked for her help. He made room for her to talk. He listened. He invited her into relationship. He valued her thoughts and words. And he offered her what she didn’t have – living water.
“If you knew…who it is that asks…you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10.
The living water Jesus is talking about is the Spirit which is sometimes described as water or wind, a powerful force that moves and changes the environment but cannot be controlled or contained. But its power can also be gentle, kind and life-giving.
Jesus sees me, this I know
Have you heard the song “Jesus loves me, this I know”? I grew up knowing that Jesus loves everybody. But I FELT that he only acknowledged me out of some sort of obligation to humankind. It was only after I felt “seen” by Jesus that I understood that he deeply longed for my heart. Not only does Christ accept you, he adores you! Though you may feel insignificant, Jesus sees you because he is looking for you. You have never been out of his sight.
This is what it is to realize home.
Maybe the church is one of the places you looked for family and left disappointed and hurt. Even though Christians are supposed to be examples of Christ’s love and care for you, they are often also in the process of bringing their messy selves to Christ as well. Just like all families are to some measure dysfunctional, all churches are a little dysfunctional as well because they’re made up of imperfect people. Can I encourage you to look for the living water? Don’t expect people to be the Holy Spirit. But accept that each Christian that is filled with the living water of life in Christ has a different grace, ability and perspective of Jesus that will help you to know him better.
And so although we may have found, or realized, our home or place with Jesus, we are in the process of more fully realizing him and understanding who he is and who we are. We are learning to see him and his work around us in creation and in his created.
We are still realizing home.