Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home Where I Belong

Being that I'm newly transplanted in Northern California, I've been pondering what it means to feel "at home" somewhere. Where actually is "home?"

Is it based on where you were raised? Or could it be the length of time you've lived somewhere that determines where home is? Is "home" a feeling that develops over time? Or is it a sense of contentment not based on longevity or environment?

On my life journey I've lived in four different states, but most of my years have been in Southern California...forty plus, to be more exact.  The first thirteen years were spent in Michigan. And shorter periods were spent in Wyoming and Texas.

I think as one gets older, it's more challenging to actually feel at home somewhere. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. We loved Southern California. And after making a cross-country move with my family in the midst of the 8th grade, I was not anxious to move my children during their school years. We were blessed to be in one place until they were out of college and living on their own.

Friends in Southern California would ask us why we would consider moving voluntarily when we lived so close to long-time friends and family.  Good question. Here are a few of the things I've considered benefits of relocating:

1)  You have to adapt to a new environment. I try to look at this as a place of opportunity, not something forced on me.

2)  You enlarge your circle of friends and acquaintances. I have crossed paths with so many people through the moves we've made. Many of them have had significant influence in my life.  Most of them are people who've lived in multiple locations.  Where they are now is not where I originally met them.

3)  You see the world from different perspectives thereby increasing your understanding of people and viewpoints. It's easy to become narrowly focused in our worldviews. When we live in different places, we learn why other people think and act the way they do.

4)  You appreciate things you may have taken for granted. It's easy to overlook some of the blessings we live with every day. When you trade them for other realities, you begin to see them in a new light.

5)  You test your resiliency. How willing am I to learn to live with different circumstances? 

6)  You learn more about yourself. If you think you are not a judgmental person, try moving.

7)  You come to depend on God on a deeper level. Inevitable times of loneliness sweep over us, but He's ALWAYS there.  The need for intimacy and interaction with our Creator increases.

I've been reading about the life of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis 37-50,) a fascinating story of betrayal and tragedy wrapped in suspense. Joseph was forced, through the hateful deeds of his older brothers, from his homeland, never to return to it as a place to reside.

Through choices made for him, not by him, his home became Egypt. Joseph learned things about himself and accompanying lessons, at every turn. Things like:  Arrogance is a breeding ground for contempt. Our good and noble choices are not always recognized or rewarded by those around us. Waiting is hard, very hard. Sometimes when things seem to be falling apart, they are actually falling into place. But it can take decades to find out.

We spent a week in Southern California recently. Toward the end of our stay I felt a real attraction to return to our home here in Northern California despite enjoying my time with the familiarity of friends and family in our former community. I think that surprised me a little. I realized I do have a sense of "belonging" here.  It's nice to feel a joyful sense of purpose even though there are things I miss about other places I've called home. I think Joseph may have come to that conclusion too.

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