Friday, July 20, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

Tomorrow my brother and his wife will pack their kids into their minivan and embark on a 4 day drive to an unknown land known as Kansas. They are, as my sister-in-law put it: trading in the ocean waves for waving wheat. Having never moved my family across the country (in fact, I have never lived outside the state of Florida), I can only imagine what kind of excitement and exhaustion and grief must accompany such an upheaval.

I'd like to think that JT and I are here to stay. His job, after all, requires an ocean and we could never handle the drama of Hawaii or California, or the temperatures of even N Carolina or Virginia. I grew up in this same town, and it only took me a year of college in Jacksonville (though I gritted it out another 2 in Gainesville) to know that this town is where I belong. Where we belong, though some might argue that Aquaman belongs more in a Scotland type of environment than in the Sunshine State.

I often find myself wanting everyone I love to belong here too. And it's frustrating, because they don't.

But I bet, even for a family that hasn't yet found their "there", that this whole move thing is pretty exciting. And pretty uncomfortable.
And if there is anything I have learned in life, it's that uncomfortable is one of the best places to be.

I have been lying in bed thinking about it a lot lately, as I drift to sleep. Some might call it morbid. But I think about how comfortable my life has been lately. How loved I feel by my family, how we have more than enough to eat, and we can buy our children toys. There are definitely hard things, but they're small in comparison to the mountains that others are facing, and that, in the past, I too have faced.

Sleepless nights with a very cuddly toddler in a comfortable bed do not compare to nights spent crying and lonely and afraid.
Frustration over my 3 year old's boundless and forceful energy and impulsive behaviors can't compete with the terror of watching a loved one battle a life threatening illness.
And wondering how we're going to save enough for retirement and college and a bigger house is nothing like wondering if you're going to be able to pay the bills tomorrow.

So I think I like to challenge myself with the reality of change, there in the comfort of my husband's arms. How would I handle it?
Cancer.
Accident.
Unemployment.

The kind of things that send a chill down your spine when you think of them. Maybe I just like to thrill myself with the scare. But I think what I love, even more than this, is the still small voice that whispers in my ear during those moments: "everything would be ok."

Because it would.
I so often find myself wanting to protect my children from any pain or fear or suffering in this world, but I forget the many benefits of my own journey. The loss of my brother, my mother's cancer, my difficulty fitting in in jr high school, my struggles with depression in college.

In many ways, childhood is a terribly vulnerable time. But in others, it is the best time to encounter the deepest of losses and struggles. It is a resilient time, and a simple time. And it was not the best time of my life, not by far.
The best time of my life has been coming through all of that. Looking back at the steady faith of my parents during extreme upheaval, even when I couldn't understand it. Staring at the silent sky and knowing that I wasn't alone. Running the other way and finding Open Arms behind me. Looking back and seeing one set of footprints in the sand, and knowing that they weren't mine.

Yesterday morning at our daily beach jaunt, the tide was high and the shore pound powerful. Aquaman, my cautious adventurer kept wanting to run farther and farther out into it to challenge himself. Holding his hand and relishing the moment of connectedness, I asked him if he knew what God said about rough water, and he wanted to know.

"“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  
When you pass through the waters,  I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you."
Isaiah 43:1-2

He really liked that.

I hope that he'll remember that. I pray that I'll remember that as well.
Hopefully some if it, he'll learn from our words, and our example. But true faith is not just handed down from generation to generation.  Faith comes, and is strengthened in passing through the waters, in losing control, and in finding that you never really had control anyway. But that it's better that way.

In the end, this small comfortable and beautiful town is not my home, and I don't belong here.
All of the discomforts and disappointments and terrors in this life serve to remind us of this.

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth....
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."
Hebrews 11: 13,16

Aquaman has been asking me a lot about Heaven lately. ("How did God make ALL that carpet??" because I told him there were no skinned knees there). I've been enjoying studying about it more, so I'd be able to explain it better to him. But the best way I've been able to tell it so far is this: it's our REAL home. And there's no place like home.

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