I just returned from a 10 day vacation with my family. It was amazing, fun and restful. (I actually shared some of my trip in earlier posts.) We spent time with friends in Ohio then spent some adult time in Chicago. It was a blessing and a treat. We drove 1840 miles and visited 5 states. I know some people would consider being in a car with their family for 1840 miles in 10 days to be a nightmare – but we had a blast. Part of the reason it was fun was that we are a family that enjoys spending time together. We like each other (most days). So it was great to be away with the people I love. We talked, sang, played games, and just took our time being together.
But by the time we were heading home – I was very ready to be home. I wanted to sleep in my own bed, sit in my own chair, control the remote to the TV, and have my own space. I wanted to be home. We have only lived in Philadelphia for a year but it is home for us now. It is where our family makes its life, worships and plays together, goes to school, and it is where our stuff is.
I grew up as a preacher’s kid – a PK- who moved around all through her childhood. From birth to High School I lived in 6 places. Since graduating and going out on my own – I have lived in 5 states and in a number of apartments and houses (I tried to count but I couldn’t come up with a number). My Mom, a United Methodist preacher’s wife, used to say, “Home is where the Bishop sends us!” When we would move my folks would have our rooms set up by the end of the first day and we would be completely moved in within 48 hours. My own family does it in 72 hours but we try. That is because we know that the place where we live is our home when we make it our home.
Home ought to be a place full of memories, people we love, places we feel comfortable, and feelings of acceptance. Home ought to be where we find our true selves and can be who we are meant to be. Home ought to be where we find sanctuary from the outside world. But for many that is not what home looks or feels like. For many home is a place where they are ridiculed, made fun of, physically or sexually abused, psychologically battered and more. For many home is a scary place and for those situations I pray for relief and safety.
I know that I was very lucky. My home was a place where we were nurtured, praised and loved. We were allowed to explore our true selves and we were affirmed in that search for self (even though there were certainly times when I clashed with my folks on my journey). My parents helped me grow up spiritually and emotionally. My parents guided me through a time in my youth when I was pretty sick. I had epilepsy and some learning disabilities from a traumatic birth. My parents were told that I would never graduate from High School but they said – “nope, that’s not happening to our kid.” So my Mom spent hours helping me learn how to learn – and I graduated from High School, from college, have two Masters degrees, and have a PhD (most with honors). All because in my home – my parents wanted the best for me and would not take no for an answer. It was an amazing gift and for me it changed my life. It was my home – a place where I was cared for and helped to succeed.
I know not everyone has had a great experience of home – but I did. And for that I am extremely grateful. I am grateful for a Mom who spent hours helping me overcome my learning issues. I am grateful for a Dad who loved me and helped me grow in my faith and self-confidence. I am grateful for my sisters who made my life journey very interesting.
And I am grateful for my own family and our recent vacation. New memories were made, new sights seen, and new bonds were formed. My home is a sweet place – because I am loved there. And I am working as hard as I can to create the kind of home I grew up in. I’m home – wherever that is— as long as I am with my family.