A funny thing happens when you live in one place for your whole life and then one day you move. And I don't mean like move across town move, I mean move move, like far away move. I'm thinking like California to Kentucky or something like that, but for the sake of this blog, lets just say you move really, really far away, to say...Costa Rica. So you grow up in one spot where you go to school, work, play, marry and have kids, and then, all of a sudden, you move really, really far away where you set up shop, work, play, stay married, and now your kids go to school, all in this far, far away place.
This is when the funny thing happens. What it is, is this: Using the word "home" gets awkward for everybody.
"Hey Mom, I'm just calling to let you know we've got tickets to come home...er... there on December 18th!"
"Oh Yay, you'll be home...or..in California...for Christmas!"
"Yeah, and we're staying for 2 weeks, and then we leave for home, ya know here, on the 1st."
"That's great! But I'm sure you'll be anxious to get home, I mean, back after 2 weeks in the cold."
"I know. When we leave home...um, Costa Rica, it will be like 80°, so I'm sure we'll be freezing. But I don't care cause we'll be home for Christmas!!! I mean, you know what I mean..."
See? It's always like that.
I think that part of the weirdness comes from my feeling of divided allegiance, a heart literally split in two with opposing desires. One, to be in CA, with my family and friends and smooth roads and reliable electricity. The other, to be in Costa Rica, with a different kind of family, different group of friends, and a more challenging (and occasionally more interesting) life. When I use the word "home" in reference to California, a part of me grimaces. Undoubtedly, it's the balls-out-for-Costa Rica part. But when I call Costa Rica "home", the other part, the California-done-made-me-who-I-am part, groans in opposition. This freakishness, in turn, rubs off on those around me who also begin to avoid the word "home" when at all possible. And so has begun a cycle of word substitution rivaled only by the "freakin", "fricken", "flippin", or "effin" controversy rippling its way back and forth across north America.
So imagine my relief when our recent visit to the states helped me put this baby to bed. Where my "home" actually is, was clearly defined for me while we were there. It was so easy to see, while I played with my little niece, or as I sat with a good friend and a cup of coffee. It was right there, when my kids slept in the backseat of the car after wonderful long nights of eating and getting caught up with families we've known and loved for ages. And it was plain as day, as we jumped in my parents pool, watched our nephews play basketball, worshiped with our church, and dropped the boys off for sleep-overs. All the while, longing to return to Costa Rica, to get back to our lives here, where we are supposed to be.
Some say that Home is Where the Heart is. But not me. The truth is, as much as I loved being in California, my heart wasn't always in it. And as much as I am sure that we belong in Costa Rica, at times I find myself here in abject surrender to a will greater than my own. And that, right there, is where it is. Home. I'm sure it's different for all of us, but for me, Home is where the will of God supersedes my own.
As it turns out, it doesn't really matter whether I call Costa Rica "home"or California. They can both fill the bill for beloved places to exist. I can love and appreciate them both for what they bring to our lives. What makes them (or anyplace) Home to me, is that I am where God wants me to be at that particular moment, whether or not my temperamental, split-personality of a heart agrees.