Quick Sip This was a statement Ethan made repeatedly our first month and a half here. Whenever we were out, and he asked where we were going next, and I replied “Home.” This is what he would say.
I was just getting used to his insistence that this new apartment wasn’t home, when one day two weeks ago, he agreed with me. “Yeah, home,” he answered from the back seat. His reply really got me to thinking. What in the world makes a place a home?!
It certainly wasn’t stuff, because he never insisted Hawaii wasn’t home even though we had almost none of our things. There we really did have only the few things that could fit in our suit cases. Whereas in this new apartment, we have about half of our stuff, and even then it took awhile for him to think of here as home.
It also couldn’t be just family. “Home is where you heart is,” yes, but it has to be more than that. Both of our apartments on the mainland haven’t been home to Ethan for awhile, even though our immediate family has been together at least as much as we were in Hawaii.
You might think me a little crazy to put this much thought into what a 2 year old says, but I really think Ethan in his innocence has the answer.
After some thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that two things make a place a home. A sense of belonging and familiarity.
Think about it. Home is somewhere you’re missed. When you return, no matter how long the absence, your friends and family welcome you back with open arms. You belong there.
It’s also a place that’s familiar to you. It can be a house or a town or a country, but it’s some place you feel at ease and know very well.
For instance, Scott Depot, West Virgina is someplace I know well. It was home to me for many years. But in the last five or so years, since Grammy moved, all the loved ones I have there, except MawMaw and PawPaw Redding, have gone home to be with Jesus. Because of their absence, West Virgina, except Redding Hill, no longer feels like home. I no longer belong there. If I were to visit the church there, I’m not even sure I’d know anyone anymore.
However, now Oklahoma is home to me (Yes, Jeremy, finally). I have friends and family scattered across the state. If I go to Oklahoma City, Bartlesville, or Haskell, there are friends and family who miss me, who would welcome me home with open arms. Even the state feels like home, since after 10 years of living there, it is familiar to me. I know it well.
So why did Ethan finally agree this new place was beginning to feel like home? I think it’s because we’re making friends and learning our way around. He can now tell us how to get home from different places, and he’s making friends who are thrilled to see him. He’s beginning to belong.
I think it’s the same for me as well. I’m using my GPS less and less. I’m down to only four days a week now. And I’m beginning to make friends. Friends that in time, I might belong to. However, those friendships take time. There’s no forcing them and no way around it. Thankfully, while my new friendships grow, I do have one of my closet friends nearby to ease some of the stress. Love you, gorgeous!
If you’re in a new place of any kind and don’t feel at home, first, give yourself time. Time to find those friends you can grow to belong to. Second, get out there and get to know your new surroundings. The more often you get out and get involved, the more familiar they will become, and the quicker you’ll get to know people who might become the kind of friends you’re seeking.
Yes, even if this place is temporary. Especially, if this place is temporary. I’ve done it twice this year already and am now on my third temporary assignment. I have not once regretted jumping into my new place with both feet to see what God has for me here.
Because in the end, it all comes back to God. He’s planted you here, in this place, at this time for a reason. You may never know why, but you’re here. Don’t hold back because the assignment is temporary. Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there only to leave again. Do what God places before you today. Just today. Then you’ll know you didn’t miss the opportunity he placed before you, and you’ll have friends, good friends, scattered across the world, and always have a home just around the corner.