I remember there was a line that I drew in the sand. I couldn’t take it any more. I made myself clear. “I don’t need your money, I don’t need your support, and even more, I don’t WANT it!” With that statement, I turned and walked out of the house. I had loaded my brother’s borrowed truck with what stuff I could pack and left. I was “homeless.” Walking out that door ended a 14-year relationship with my dad. Shocking to read. But, the man who was supposed to be my protector, my biggest fan, and my safety net had failed miserably. To end this relationship ended years of abuse in every possible way—physical, sexual and emotional. I was scared. I was mad. I was hurt. I was lost. I was young. None of that mattered. And it felt so amazingly free!
Technically, I wasn’t homeless. I had a place I was living. At the time, I was in college. I had a job and I paid my own rent. But this idea of “home”—the place you can always go that’s safe and secure and available—no longer existed. To be honest, it had never existed.
I suppose I should backtrack a little. I do have good memories from my childhood. I have a mother and siblings who love me and whom I love dearly. I participated in sports, played in the band, went to prom—all the things kids do. But I had a secret and I wasn’t safe. Home didn’t exist for me, and I am betting it didn’t exist for my family members either.
So with that line in the sand, I began a 20+ year search for home. Being a Christian, I knew in my head home was Heaven. But since I had just recently met my Heavenly Father, and I had no trust for the one here on earth, it was not the easiest leap for me. I did not have the gift of faith, and the idea of Jesus as my Father, and Heaven as my home, was a bit much.
In this twenty-year pilgrimage, I had lots of opportunities to develop and feel at home. I got married, moved to a new state 2000 miles away, had kids, and physically and emotionally began sharing life with people. While this was a beginning, it certainly wasn’t the answer. Trust was a huge issue. It seems in order to have a home, you have to have trust. Or at least a bit of it. I had none. For a long time.
I talked intelligently. I acted just the right way. I thought I was grounded and had a grasp on home. There were whispers. Eventually, life was good, life was stable, and I found a realm of “home” that included trust, safety and security.
Then July 2013 hit. It actually happened before July, but July is when I was there. CANCER. The word no one wants to hear. My mom. Breast Cancer. Mastectomy. My sister. Lumpectomy. If those words don’t rattle your idea of home, I’m not sure what does. I. Was. Shaken. This doesn’t happen to me. This doesn’t happen to my family. This can’t be home if cancer can take it away. And again, that feeling of homelessness all over again. Again there were whispers, but it was really hard to hear them in the midst of hurt and chaos.
Then December 2013. At the moment, we had survived breast cancer. Guards down and needing a reprieve. Let’s huddle up and be “home” together. Except again … homeless. One minute here. The next minute gone. My father-in-law. A man who did offer his home. Here, and then gone. No rhyme or reason. And again, that homeless feeling. And again, whispers that were hard for me to hear.
Since December, this path has been winding. I am so thankful for my family, and I’m thankful that we’re on this search together. It is unsettling at times. It feels unstable and not safe at all. I need a heavenly home. I need grounding. The whispers have been heard more clearly. “Home is where I am.” So for today, my home is wherever Jesus dwells.
Photo (Flickr CC) by John T Howard