Home. A four letter word that brings to mind different things to different people. For some, “home” is the place they were born and raised, and couldn’t wait to escape. For others, “home” is a place they yearned for all their lives, but never got to experience. And yet, for many others, “home” is a place of comfort and safety, a place they always belong, and can always go back to!
For the military family, “home” can be a confusing word. For many, “home” is where the US Military sends us, right? Home has more to do with people-present than present-location.
The question most people ask when meeting for the first time is, “Where are you from? Where is home?” I am quick to answer this question, since my identity has been laced up and tied to a small coal-mining town in Northeastern Pennsylvania most of my life.
This summer I got the chance to go “home” after being overseas for three years. Home to the place I was born and raised, to the roads I learned to drive on, and the shops I learned to work in. To crisp, cool country air, open windows and roads as narrow as shoestrings; to the smell of fresh earth in my mother’s basement, and memories at every stoplight.
So, it surprised me when, a few nights in to my visit, that peace and familiarity of home sparked a panic inside me that bubbled up and grew to monstrous proportions. As the night turned deep black and the house grew silent, my heart seemed to beat out of my chest as I panicked about these things……
Would my children ever feel the safety and comfort of coming home to a familiar place?
How would my children ever answer that question, “where is home?”
The realization that my children will never come home and run in to their eighth grade science teacher at the grocery store.
They would never get to revisit the locations of their earliest memories, and never come back to their childhood home(s).
I succumbed to these troubling thoughts and nursed and cultivated them deep in to the night.
As morning light peeked around the bedroom curtains and shone on the sleeping faces of my children, the Lord poured out comfort and hope in to this mama’s fretting heart.
“I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18: 29-30.
And my mind turned from thoughts of sacrifice and what-my-children-don’t-have, to the things my children do experience that make up their own unique identity.
The fact that they feel at “home” in many different locations.
The fact that they can visit six different locations within the US and three Overseas, and feel “at home.”
The fact that they are educated on other cultures and traditions and still manage to hold on to their own.
And I breathe a little easier.
And I release my children in to the care of our Lord, as all parents, military and non-military alike, do.
And so I set out that cool, summer day to show my children where I first learned to dip ice cream, and swim with them in the same waters I learned to swim. I showed them the house I grew up in and the hills we made snowmen on. And a little thread of my memories tie around their heart, tugging them back to this place. And my home becomes a bit of their home.
After all, home has more to do with heart-strings than brick buildings.