This move has really given me a bit of a cattywampus view of the term “home.” In the last few months, I haven’t really known what or where home really is… and in some ways, I’ve felt rather home-less.
I’ve found myself referring to “back home” (i.e., San Diego) and “come home” or “at home” (i.e., the house we are living at in Minnesota) in the same sentence. I know foreigners often claim that the English language is a confusing one, and in this instance, I am going to have to agree. Seriously, how can the same word, uttered breaths apart, mean two completely different things/places?
Miriam Webster’s Dictionary has six different definitions of the word “home:”
a : one’s place of residence : domicile
b : house
: the social unit formed by a family living together
a : a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also: the focus of one’s domestic attention <home is where the heart is>
b : habitat
a : a place of origin <salmon returning to their home to spawn>; also : one’s own country <having troubles at home and abroad>
b : headquarters 2 <home of the dance company>
: an establishment providing residence and care for people with special needs <homes for the elderly>
: the objective in various games; especially : home plate
Since moving to Minnesota, none of these definitions quite seem to fit the exact life situation I currently find myself in…
It’s gotten me thinking about what “home” really means – both on a broad philosophical scale, as well as a more emotional one.
Home is associated with so many different things. It is so many different things.
The location of your home can define who you associate with, what kinds of foods you eat, the language you speak, and even your religion.
The physical nature of your home and home dynamic can define socio-economic status, your perception of others, and even arguably who you become.
But… is all that really “home”? Or simply where you are dwelling? Or the location where you grew up? Are they all one in the same?
I don’t even want to think about asking a foster child or a military kid what “home” means to them!
It hurts my head.
In a lot of ways, I kind of feel like I don’t have a home right now. For a long time, my home (definitions one, two, three, and four of Miriam’s list) was in San Diego. I associated myself with San Diego and found my identity as well as my residence there. Now I’ve moved and I’m no longer “at home” in every sense of the word that I’ve known for almost the past 30 years. But Minnesota doesn’t quite feel like home yet either. I can’t fit it into one of those definitions listed above. In some ways, sometimes it still feels like I’m on a reeeeally long vacation and will be returning to San Diego shortly. Then, in reality, when I think of home from a physical stand point, I technically don’t have one of those either. I’m currently staying in my brother-in-law’s basement. It’s not really my home (however grateful for the roof over my head I may be, and however fun it is living with my sister-in-law).
Those of you that know us might be thinking I’m forgetting something. Our 2.5 acres in Andover! Okay, we have property, yes, but there is no residence on it. That can hardly be called a home. And, in all reality, the property is not even ours! We’re making payments to the current land owner. And when there is a residence on the property, that technically won’t be ours either! We’ll be making payments to the bank to pay off the loan we took out to pay for the cost of building the house.
But even still, I can’t help but think about the fact that, even when we have the house and land paid off (please Lord let it be before we’re 60!), it technically won’t be our home then either. As a Christian, I believe this is not my final dwelling place. This earth itself is not really our home and we are but sojourners in a foreign land (1 Peter 2:11-12, John 18:36). Heaven is my ultimate home someday (Mat. 6:19-20, John 14:1-3).
Did I mention my head hurts…?
I’ve had all these thoughts about home and what it means to me, etc. rolling around in my head for weeks – months really – and I even find it hard to clearly articulate my thoughts and feelings here and now (sorry if my rabbit trails are confusing). But a few weeks back, while perusing Etsy, I came across some home décor items that said, “Home is wherever I’m with you.” Initially, the phrasing of this sentence kind of rubbed me the wrong way, and I at first didn’t like it. It kind of seemed awkward to say. Plus, hello?! Talk about your cheese-ball sayings! Come on. But really, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this kitschy little saying was pretty much the definition of what “home” is for me right now. (and… who am I kidding? I’m a super sucker for “cheese-ball” stuff!)
When I chose to marry my husband, I made a commitment to “leave and cleave.” I left my former family and claimed my husband as my new family. Josh is now where home is for me and what home means to me (Genesis 2:24). Josh is my home, whether we are in California, Minnesota, Alaska, Montana, or the Arctic Circle. That’s what our marriage means. And I’m okay with that.
Ultimately, I want “Home is wherever I’m with you” to be more than a cute little phrase stitched on a pillow or etched on a plaque and sold on Etsy. I want it to be my definition of home. Always. Even when Minnesota feels like “home” and we have a residence built on those 2.5 acres. “Home is wherever I’m with Josh,” because then, all the other confusing stuff like, where we’re currently living, our future home, our ultimate heavenly home… it all doesn’t matter right now. Wherever Josh is, I’m at home.
Wonder what I’ll have to do to get Miriam Webster to recognize my new definition…