It’s hard to believe that 2.5 weeks have passed in what seems like a blink of an eye! Friday we traveled from Cleveland to Miami. Miami to Panama. Panama to Caracas. Home. A 2,325 mile trek, 70 degree difference in weather, to take us from one “home” to another.
Home. A concept that has so many different meanings, connotations and feelings associated with it. My thesis my senior year of college was on the importance of Home, and to tell you the truth, even then it was incredibly difficult to put into words a construct so deep, different and dynamic as it is.
Growing up, we moved a lot all throughout high school. However, during that time, it really sunk in that home is not the place, rather the people who make it. Home is the result of the intentionality, dedication, and purpose of the people who form it.
I feel like there is this idea (unspoken or not) that you can only have one “home” at a time. I think that this belief is not only completely incorrect, but, potentially harmful. This is not a simple mathematical problem where you end up subtracting one from the other to get where you are. You do not “lose” one community. Rather, you take those pieces that are life-shaping, those that formed you and stick with you, and incorporate them within the new place you are currently building your life.
Sometimes, I feel like there is a sense of guilt and comparison that comes with this process. Guilt that you shouldn’t be sad or else what you’re doing isn’t “right”. Guilt that you are leaving friends and family behind while you are chasing after your dreams. And comparison that inevitably always happens when something new is different from the way you did it before or just how things were.
It’s in these times that something small but forceful can potentially creep in. Something that seeps its way up into our minds and thoughts when we are not trying to think of it. That quiet, unwelcome question, “Did I make the right decision?”
I feel like this question, while real and true and something that we all have had many times in our lives, is part of that subtraction problem I mentioned earlier. When you begin to doubt whatever decision you made, I feel like it opens the doors for more and more uncertainty to build and take over. This is what I believe robs us of that feeling of “home”. The lack of confidence in our decisions, which, whether intentionally or unintentionally, reflects a lack of trust in God’s plan, impedes our full ability to invest in the new community and others, rather than just focusing internally on our emotions and whether or not we are doing what we should be doing. This is the loss of living fully. The stall in being fully present while you are creating your home.
I feel like this idea of home has been on my mind a lot more due to hopping around some of our other homes and visiting our dear friends and family over vacation. It was so good, rejuvenating and restful to see our family and friends, to walk streets that were familiar, run paths that our feet already knew, to drink coffee (and lots of it) at our old favorite spots.
It is so much easier to talk in person than in Skype, sometimes, and we did a lot of talking over break. A lot of catching up, congratulating, and celebrating. We planned, we laughed, we played, and we were grateful.
If I could use one word to capture our feelings over break, it would be that: grateful.
Grateful for families who takes us out to eat and watch us jump for joy while eating a Chipotle burrito. (In all reality, although I did not jump for joy, I definitely clapped my hands and cheered unintentionally during many meals)
Grateful for parents who have invested time, prayers, encouragement and so much more every step of the way.
Grateful for friends who are absolutely wonderful, life-long pillars in our lives, regardless of the distance and location.
Grateful for nieces and nephews who are full of life, joy, fun, and grow more in their incredibly unique and awesome personalities each time we see them.
Grateful for clean tap water, toilets you can flush paper down, English, familiarity, and stocked grocery stores. It was also during this time where I had to truly come to understand that being grateful, thankful, and appreciative of the homes that we have in California and Ohio should not take away from my feeling grateful to be in Caracas.
Yes, there are differences in these two homes. The obvious ones, and the small, minute things. However, this is where we are investing, planting new roots, and growing together and in community.
When we got to our apartment (at 3 a.m.) and opened our door in our sad, delirious, sleep-deprived state, there was something special, exciting and fulfilling to know that we are here. While it had to be post-poned until the next morning when we were no longer sleep-walking zombies, the feeling was still there.
While I am still trying to balance these emotions, thoughts and meanings of home being in many different places at once, I do know that we are here for a reason. One that is bigger than my thoughts, plans, or dreams. One that is not sustained or lessened by my emotions, but, something placed in our path that I fully believe in.
I don’t have a very organized or succinct way of describing our adventures over our break. So, instead, you can just look through some of the random snapshots (basically, say “hello” to my photo album) to see what we are grateful for in all of our homes over break (Guys, I’m so sorry. I always do this… I don’t post pictures often enough, so, when I finally do, there is a crazy picture overload… I don’t blame you for just briefly glancing. Or not even glancing at all. Seriously.):