Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

The simple truth about my restless heart: it’s not really about home

I don’t remember how home feels. There’s always just the longing and the missing.

There are hints in place, in cities and countries where something gnaws at the inside of my heart. Even so, in those places there is no stability, no consistency, no home.

Home is where the heart is, they say, and mine’s scattered over the globe: Oregon, the land of my childhood, my best friends, my family. Baltimore, my sister’s family and sweet, wild nieces. Atlanta, three years that I knew wouldn’t be forever, but friends who became like family. Florida, six weeks of sanctuary and solace in a storm.

Paris was the turning point and game changer. Ireland embedded itself in the walls of my soul. I could never be the same, never go back to the life I’d lived before. There was Thailand, with girls on the street and that little church and the refugees. New York was a shocking sorrow when I almost cried to leave, wondering if I’d be back.

And now Nashville, where I love the people I serve, love them hard and all the more for their brokenness. I love the land, the rolling hills, the creativity thrumming in the atmosphere. I mostly forget it’s country and feel like I’m in a Southern version of my hometown.

All these places have my heart. All these places I’ve lived or traveled, they’ve carved themselves into my soul and shaped who I am. But none of them are home.

Home is where you hang your hat, they say, and that’s been so many places. Not just cities, states, nations, but residences. I don’t know why I can’t hold still, live in one place for more than a moment, but the turnover is constant. There have been apartments, houses, even a garage, but mostly just rooms. As I write, I’ve moved five times in ten months. I’m on track for six in a year, near twenty in twelve years.

I’ve chased calling all over this planet, but my heart is always searching for a home that eludes me. Instead, I find belonging where I don’t, long-term, belong. It’s all seasonal, temporal, beautiful and hard. Hearts are given, friendships formed, tender roots start to reach down. Then it’s pulled up quick and I’m moving on again, this time with more faces and friendships beating in my expanded heart. It hurts every time, but it’s lovely.

My heart aches alternately on different days: for friends who served me curry and sat with my by the sea, for laughter in offices where we spent too much time, for baguettes and boulangeries and the lilting of French, for the smiles and scents of Thailand, for the soaring mountains and icy-clear skies of the Northwest.

I am not ungrateful: this nomadic life has expanded my world. I would never have met such wonderful people, have been reshaped into a wholer person, had my worldview grown beyond a town of 26,000. I’ve learned to pack lightly and hold things loosely. But there is tension, still loosely holding this tucked-away dream.

Home is wherever I’m with you is the song I so desperately want to sing. I want my people, not just sisters and brothers, but a husband* to face this world with, kids running in the yard, dinners with soul-filling chats with friends in front of the fire.

I’m searching for a home to build and fill with lovely people and healing, the peace that passes understanding, a sanctuary in this world. I’m searching for roots to reach down deep and grow strong and allow my heart to become a haven.

But in my search for a resting place, I have to wonder if this is, after all, the plan. Perhaps my heart was made for longing. Maybe I can’t escape the ache. What if it’s the urging that drives me on into the depths of His goodness? What if my wandering soul was made to find my only security in shelter that surrounds me, never forsakes me?

Though I crave stability, I am not so naïve to think it will truly settle my soul. Augustine knew this long ago: You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in You. My heart finds rest only one place: beating inside His. No other shelter from the storms of life will satisfy.

Despite loneliness and longing,  there are moments I whisper to Jesus, home is wherever I’m with You. He’s my sanctuary in this world that fell and shattered and is being put back together. No place, no people, can work out this restoration of all things. So even as I search for a location, my heart is at rest in a home that’s been with me all along.

Since writing this piece, I’ve married and settled into a condo in Nashville with my amazing husband. Sweet as this is, my heart still finds its truest rest in Him. 

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