Waking up in the same home where I spent all eighteen years of my childhood brings with it an elusive longing that I’ve never been able to name. But it’s always there when I return, especially now as a parent. Maybe part of it comes with the desire to connect my children to the best parts of me.
Maybe it's that I want them to know no matter where they land in life, they will always be connected to something bigger than just their individual story.
The familiarity of place triggers so many emotions. It’s like randomly hearing a song on the radio from ninth grade or smelling mulch when you’re landscaping, bringing you back to summer camp. You may not even have a specific memory associated with the trigger, but there’s just something that reminds your senses that these were precious times.
This is what returning home is like.
A series of those moments.
Connecting me to the past as I lean into how it’s shaping my future.
I was built with a sense of adventure by spending weekends sleeping on a boat and learning to water ski in the Thousand Islands. I experienced the itch for freedom in the open ocean jumping waves in a dingy with my brothers and two family friends during summer trips to Cape Cod. I learned that nine people and two dogs sleeping on a 27-foot Sea Ray have just as much fun in Nantucket as those who flew on their private jets to get there.
I learned from my parents that taking spiritual leaps from the traditions you grew up in is difficult and painful for both you and those who love you. It’s a free fall of trusting God and finding grace. And in the end, those that love you will still love you because that is the beauty of a God-built family.
While church culture later awakened a cynicism in me that I can still struggle with, those first years of my life stirred a longing to know God that has never changed, even through faith shifts.
I was gifted with life-giving friendships with people that I still love dearly. They are the rare kind that stick with you beyond each life season. I’m well-aware that friendships can be seasonal, and making forever friends that strive to continue to “get you” through all the changes are invaluable.
These were the years when I was fearless. Whether it was speaking random thoughts in youth group, leading worship as a girl that probably shouldn’t be singing in front of others or giving testimony on missions trips that were translated into Chinese, I just knew that God was moving and I wanted to move with him regardless of whether I looked silly doing it.
My childhood taught me an awful lot about what it means to love and walk beside others. There was so much safety in that space. It wasn't free from hardships, but the type of security that comes with the knowledge that no matter what happened, I was loved. By God. By those whose stories were weaved in with my own. I was knitted into something bigger than myself. I had a role to play and was acquiring the tools I needed to play it well.
We all were.
I love seeing what those from my past are becoming, how our stories are still building upon each other. We are who we are today because of all these yesterdays we had together and all the people who have walked alongside us.
Now there’s new people in our lives enriching the histories being made, grafted in with all the others, connecting us to new stories. Shaping us still. Helping us shake off the dust that sometimes settles when we can’t find our way forward. Homeward. Toward the best parts of who God created us to be. Together. As it was always intended. Journeying towards home with brothers and sisters who are rooted in the same love. Who experience the same longings. Knowing the hope of someday. The hope of home.
Image by Darwin Bell