Over the course of my life, I’ve already moved six times (not including countless rent houses). Today, I’m leaving home to go to college about a thousand miles away. My move into college at Baylor marks the first move that ends with me living in a new place without my family – by myself. The house in the photo below has only been home to me for about two months, but it’s where my family lives now, and the hectic summer I’ve spent moving into it, living in it, and living away from it throughout my travels has taught me a lot about what home means.
This summer, my family moved to our new home, in a new state, just about a month after my high school graduation. Actually, I was leading at Wyldlife camp and attending one of my YoungLife leaders’ weddings when my family made the transition into a rent house in this new town back in June. While I had only lived in our former city in South Carolina for six years, it really felt like home. In that city, I made great friends, went through my awkward middle school years, found YoungLife, started a blog, had my first job, graduated high school, and grew dramatically spiritually and as a person. I learned from my circumstances, I realized that God has a plan, and ultimately I wouldn’t change a thing about my life – even the things that left me feeling broken in the moments in which they took place. I felt like I left home in June when we moved an hour away from my high school, my favorite restaurants to go to before YoungLife and after football games, the field I played lacrosse on, my best friend’s house, the place where I attended YoungLife club, and the bedroom in which I spent countless nights of high school up until God knows when studying for tests that ultimately said nothing significant about me at all.
Come to think of it, I also felt like I left home when I left Saranac Village in a little white van at the end of our session last summer, heading to the airport and waving to my Work Crew friends from the rounded rectangular window with tears streaming down my face. I felt this again when I hugged my Work Crew friends goodbye in front of Fox Run at Lake Champion in July of this year. I’ve also felt like I left home every time I fly out of San Antonio, knowing my cousins are at school in the city and my grandma is going through all the clutter in her home while I live hours upon hours away. And of course I felt like I left home when I moved from North Carolina to South Carolina in middle school when my mom lost custody of my sister and I – when all of our nights watching Dancing With the Stars on the couch while eating edamame beans, just the three of us, came to an end.
What I’ve come to learn about home, as cliché as it sounds, is that home really has nothing to do with a physical structure, and you can have more than one. Home is where your family is and where your friends are. Home is where you experience self-discovery and growth. Home is where you’ve felt overjoyed and devastated – raw, authentic emotions. Home is where you feel close to the Lord. This is why leaving my seven-year-old brother today is hard, but I won’t be hugging our dining room table or the pergola on our front deck. This is why the hardest thing about leaving your favorite place is never the views or the activities that you say goodbye to, it’s the memories you take with you without being able to access that same joy again at any given moment. To me, home is now my old house in South Carolina, my grandma’s house in San Antonio, the living room of my mom’s old house in North Carolina, under the willow tree at Windy Gap, Loon Lodge at Saranac Village, the Emory Road House where my high school YoungLife club was held, Fox Run at Lake Champion, and this new place in the mountains of North Carolina where my family now lives. I know that pretty soon Baylor will start to feel like home to me too.
As I fly to Texas today, I am comforted by the Lord’s steadfastness. I am so grateful that in this season of life I have learned that God is with me everywhere I go, and that is what truly makes a place feel like home. He never changes and He never leaves my side – Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I know I share this verse a lot, but another one I think is so applicable to so much of our lives and is so comforting is Psalm 23:6, which says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The one home I will never move away from is His house. And for that, I’m forever grateful.
Thanks for reading!