What “Home” Means to Me
Once, before we had kids, I said that I could be at home anywhere my husband and I were happy. And back then, that was the truth. After we got married, we lived in an apartment, an RV in my parent’s backyard, a room in an old hotel that had been converted into a YWAM base, and the back room of my parent’s house, all with minimal issues feeling “at home”. We were still living in that back room when, exactly one month before our first child was born, we moved back to an apartment. It was good that we did that, because it was really important for us to develop our own family structure away from my family (wonderful as they were to let us live with them).
Anyways, I’m looking back and trying to see what it was about those other places that felt like home. There isn’t much that was super consistent between each location… heck, we arrived at the YWAM base in CO just before winter set in… and we had never lived in snow before! Our room there was large, but it was just a hotel room, with space to hang up our clothes and a bathroom. We bought an electric kettle and ate instant oatmeal for breakfast, ramen cups for lunch, and lots of tea, hot chocolate, and apple cider in the meantime. Dinner was communal style at the base dining room. We slept under an electric blanket because the heater was pretty slow. After spending a week in Estes Park for a Go! Conference, we decided to give one of the missionaries a ride up to Steamboat Springs to visit her friend for the weekend. It was December, and we drove through the Rockies forever! It was a blast, and we were just able to do it. It was all an adventure, and we were able to support some really cool missionaries, join in crazy worship nights, and learn a lot from the different speakers that came and taught the DTS students (by the way, if you’re lost on what YWAM is, check this out: http://www.ywamsf.org).
After having kids, we re-invented our vagabond ways (a little… we still try to take one or two epic trips a year). My husband got a full-time job in CA, and we settled into raising our kids. I returned to school and we got used to the dynamic passing the kids and house work back and forth. We became intentional in developing deep relationships with other young families. Our children had friends and family nearby to help us out when we needed help with childcare or swapping date nights. We loved having people over at our house for BBQs and hanging out. We became involved in church ministry. We put our roots down deep in some very rich soil. We were thriving in every way but one: every month was a financial struggle. There was too much month left at the end of the money, as Dave Ramsey says.
That was when we made the decision to move out here, to the rocky, sandy soil of Arizona. There are lots of great things about living here. It’s easier to manage our monthly budget out here, there are new and interesting things to explore, we’re slowly discovering where the “people like us” are and trying to develop community with them. It’s just that it feels so different.
So I guess what I’m saying is that “home” is a constantly changing thing for me. And maybe my problem now is that I haven’t been able to find what it is that I need to feel “at home” here in Arizona. As far as family, I’m so grateful that my husband has a job that he loves and where he’s doing so well. I’m thrilled that my son is able to attend a Montessori Charter school… we could have NEVER afforded the private Montessori school in our hometown. I’m able to work from home using my degree while taking care of our youngest two children. My lack of a social life is probably my biggest struggle.
Maybe, “home” for me means a place where I am loved… not just by my family, but by people around me. I know for sure that “home” doesn’t mean the building where we live… it has much more to do with the people. The sense that “I belong here. I have a purpose, and a reason for being here. People count on me and I count on them and we all need each other. If I wasn’t here, people would miss me and call me to find out how I’m doing.” Maybe that’s what I’m missing here in AZ. Everyone seems to have it so together… I’m not really needed anywhere. They don’t ask me for help, so I feel strange asking them for help.
I don’t have the feeling that I’m in a community… I feel like I’m surrounded by lots of really pretty islands with walls up around them. On our family island, we don’t have a wall, just a small hut. We’re friendly, but completely out of place with all this walled-up beauty that surrounds us. And now my fear is that I’m not setting the right example for my children about how to BE in this new environment. It’s so confusing to me, so I do what I’m seeing others doing. Trying to have it all together, in my own house, not needing anyone to help, staying busy with my own stuff. But I’m just NOT that kind of person.
I don’t think the answer is to conform to what I see around me. That’s never the job of a person who follows Jesus. Maybe, somehow, I can help other people realize that they need help… maybe even MY help. There’s an idea.