I want to go home.
In the middle of a squad bay in Quantico, Virginia, walls lined with bunk beds made up neatly with green wool blankets, this was my only thought. I was tired and sore. I longed for the comforts of home, you know, showering by yourself, waking up to a regular alarm clock, and not having to pull fire watch. Those are the little things for which I longed.
This was home, though.
Not two months before, I had sold my house, sold lots of stuff, put the rest in storage, quit my job, and set off for Officer Candidate School (OCS). There was no home to go back to. This was it.
Sitting on my rack in a squad bay many years ago was not the only time I have had this thought.
In the middle of boxes in new duty stations multiple times since then, I have pondered the same thing. I want to go home, knowing, though, that the white walls, piles of boxes, and randomly placed furniture where I am is home.
But how do I make it feel like home for both myself and my family?
Questions about furniture placement, storage of stuff, and where to hang pictures run through my brain in the days after the moving truck has driven away. This stuff can bring us comfort and familiarity in a place that is totally foreign, but are they really what makes a home?
I read a book recently that talked about the “new” definition of home. What we see as home today has adapted over time. It has not always looked as it does with our furniture, silverware, and separate rooms for separate purposes. A few hundred years ago, they used one utensil, a knife, and rarely drank anything during meals. Even in Colonial America, most homes did not have enough seating for the entire family to sit together at a meal. Children stood, while adults sat. But even for adults, there was a hierarchy because there may not even have been enough seats for all of them.
Pioneers in America? Well, military women of that time (wives, as you know, since the military was a man’s world), were allowed to take less than 1000 pounds of household goods (HHGs) to their homes on the frontier. They also moved homes frequently along with the forts they belonged to in order to respond to needs of the area, sometimes moving two, three, or four times in a year. Whoa. I wish they had kept lists of what they took because we all know they took the important things, right? Life is different these days, just because we have more “stuff.”
As I sit and look at boxes, it makes me wonder what home really is.
Our stuff is a history of where we have been. I look at my favorite chair – the one I bought at a thrift store in Texas and had re-covered in Kansas now sitting in my living room in Germany – and remember the people and the places those things bring to mind. The special plate, a gift from a friend in Georgia, and the bowl that holds our keys, a gift from a friend I met the first time back in Tennessee, are reminders of where God has brought us and what He has done in our lives. Blessings, no doubt.
The question remains: Do we need the stuff to make a home?
Home is our place of safety, where we get to be ourselves, sharing hurts and struggles of life along with celebrations of milestones and miracles. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#strength2thrive #home”]How do we recreate this sense of place in unfamiliar territory?[/tweetthis] Not always an easy task, my friends, whether we do this just for ourselves or we do it for a whole family, but there is surely a way. God has set us on this adventure, moving our home more times than I ever anticipated, but He has a purpose and plan.
In my attempt to do this, three things take priority:
- Perspective – when we move we call it a Treasure Hunt. We know that God has gone before us and prepared a way. We go looking for a house, a church home, friends, opportunities that only the Lord could arrange. Our perspective affects much. If we go looking for the treasures, we are much more likely to find them.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 31:8).
- Purpose – we know the Lord has a plan and purpose for us in that place. Sometimes we leave a place not seeing exactly what that purpose was. But we know that our obedience to Him today and then again tomorrow and….well, you know, if we are obedient to what the Lord calls us to each day it turns into a lifetime of legacy, fulfilling the purposes the Lord has for us.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).
- Patience – the Lord no doubt wants us to be content where we are, but He also knows it takes our hearts some time to catch up with us. It takes time to make friends. It takes time to find our way around without getting lost. It simply takes time. Patience is a virtue, one that I have yet to perfect. I want it to feel like home today, not six months from now. I need to be patient and give myself and my family some grace. This place will be home eventually because it is the place God has put us.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised (Hebrews 6:10-12).
The making of home, something we do over and over, and yet it still presents its challenges. God truly has a plan and purpose in this place, and He even graciously allows me some mementos to remember His faithfulness. In making our home, I make some priorities – perspective, purpose, and patience – trusting the Lord’s faithfulness even in this new place.
I still find myself sitting in a room of boxes and being tempted to long for a place we left behind, a place that felt like home when our current situation isn’t quite there yet. God is faithful. He is asking me to be faithful and in time this place will be home too. Not because of our stuff, but because of His presence and purpose for us here.
How do you make a home for you and/or your family? How has God shown His faithfulness to you? One more question: do you have a favorite piece in your house – picture, piece of furniture, art, etc? I would love for you to share!