I have a love-hate relationship with where we live. Well, “hate” is a bit of an exaggeration, so we’ll call it a love-strongly dislike relationship.
I’m sure that’s common for just about anyone, anywhere in the world. One day, you can’t imagine yourself living anywhere but right where you are. The next day, you’d take the next flight available out of town if someone handed you the ticket.
In all honesty, there have been times when we’re getting ready to fly back to our city after spending some time away and I refuse to say, “Alright, it’s time to go home.” I might say something like “Ok, it’s time to head back to (name of the city where we live).” Or I might just settle with, “Time to go back.” Why? Because it’s my little way of taking a personal jab at our city and saying, “We aren’t that close, ok?”
Just typing out the words above makes me cringe a little. It’s pretty harsh, I know. But sometimes I’ve been cut off by one too many motorcycles on an already crowded and congested road. Sometimes, I’m ready to drop an atomic bug bomb on our whole house to kill off the fire ants once and for all. Sometimes, I feel like giving a complete stranger a nice, hard pinch on their cheek after they’ve made my child’s face red from all their pinching. Sometimes I’m tired of looking up at the sky and seeing nothing but smog. Sometimes, I just want to take my kid out to the pool and not have ANYBODY stare at me for the entire time. And why is it so stinking hot inside my house?!
Normally the frustrations come and go in a matter of days. It’s not even worth mentioning because it barely affects my day-to-day routine. But lately, I’ve been stuck in a “this is not my home” rut. It’s become somewhat of a battle cry. And I haven’t been proclaiming it in the biblical, “this earth is just a temporary dwelling place because we long for the kingdom of God” kind of way. It’s been more like the stubborn, stomping my feet, “I do no like it here, I will not like it here” kind of way. Deep down, though, I know it’s not how I really want to feel. Of course I want to love where the Lord has placed me and my family. Naturally, I want to come back after a long trip and say, “Ahh, we’re home.”
Allow me to tell you about a day I experienced just recently. I decided it was time to take a trip to the grocery store, which could have any number of obstacles, speed bumps, and disappointments along the way. No matter, I needed a few things and I wanted to get the trip over with as soon as possible.
Maybe it was the beautiful blue skies. Maybe it was the new album I was listening to that prompted me to tap on my steering wheel like a djembe. It could have been that I was catching all the green lights or that traffic was incredibly and surprisingly smooth. Everything I saw as I drove along made me happy: the man running across the street with two glass bottles of sweet tea; the little old lady carrying a big sack of something on top of her head; the kids running out of the store with a few of their favorite treats; the fact that no matter how crazy the drivers were, the traffic still moved in a steady, uninterrupted flow. I thanked the Lord for the day and asked that He would help me to always have this amount of love and compassion for the people and the place He brought us to. In perfect timing, I tuned back into the lyrics of the song that was playing:
“Know you’re not alone because I’m going to make this place your home.”
I should note, I wasn’t listening to a Christian artist singing specifically about the Lord’s nearness. It’s just a well-composed and well-written album by a secular artist. However, I couldn’t help but think that I got a response to my whispered prayer.
The fact is, I know that a seemingly perfect day like that day is fleeting. Just last night I was cursing the backed up traffic at 7 pm on a Wednesday night. I was glaring at the guys tearing up one of the few good roads left in this city so they could sloppily install some pipes and then fill in the huge ditch with sand and rocks instead of repaving the road.
Our circumstances are completely unpredictable. If we were to depend on our circumstances to make us happy or make us feel “at home”, we would be in for quite a roller coaster ride. The truth is, no matter where we dwell on this earth, this place is not our home. If we got everything we wanted here on earth and were content, we would never long for His heavenly kingdom.
Yes, there are really hard days living overseas but there are wonderful days too. Sometimes, I can’t even believe it’s my real life. The Lord is kind and He gives us little reminders that we are exactly where He wants us to be, that we’re not alone in that place, and that our dwelling place is always with Him. And if the He dwells in you, then you’ll feel at home and content no matter where He takes you.
This post is linked up at Velvet Ashes.