Sunday, January 05, 2014

On home and belonging

Tonight we are back in Montana after over a week spent on our first pilgrimage back to California.

I wondered how it would feel, to return to our former southern California city of residence, and then leave again, for the second time. Where would our heartstrings feel more closely tied? What about the kids and their longings for "home?" And which end of the trip feels more like our home? It was impossible to predict.

Of course there are so many things I miss about California. Like this below. Obviously. And our entire family and precious friends. And many, many things I do not miss. And there were things and people I missed in Montana. And some things I did not miss.

I've been noticing how many people who know us say things to me like, "Wow, so how's Montana? Kevin must be LOVING it there!" Or, "Kevin must really be IN HIS ELEMENT." Statements like that. Because they know my husband is an outdoorsy guy, and I guess the presumption is that he will feel more comfortable outdoors in MT than in CA. I guess. On the maybe-one-day-a-month he gets to do something outdoorsy, since there are still jobs and trash day and bills to pay in Montana.

And the implication also is that I am probably not loving it as much, I'm not "in my element." They say things like, "But how are you doing there?" with a grave tone like Montana gave me an illness. Because I guess the way the obvious things about me fit with the obvious things about Montana is questionable.

So while we've been in California, my husband and I have been chatting about these funny presuppositions. I asked him if he felt he belonged more in one place than the other. I wondered what exactly "my element" is. Where exactly do I feel most at home? Where do we belong?

I was a little surprised that he felt like I did: strangely hazy about all of it. Neither of us felt overwhelmingly connected to either culture, either home, either terrain. He hasn't felt an enhanced sense of belonging living in Montana just because he likes the outdoors. Probably like I didn't feel an intense sense of belonging living in California because I happen to like Anthropologie and pedicures and 70 degree winters. I also like places with no Anthropologie, no need for pedicures, and 20 degree winters. We started to understand that the things that are obvious about us and about different environments have very little to do with whether we feel we belong there.

Our preferences have very little to do with what feels like home.

And at the end of the day, we were reminded that nothing really feels like home. Not really. Because we were made for more.

We were designed for so much more than pedicures and camping and lattes and church on Sunday and Christmas cards and the right winter boots. As long as we look for home, comfort, and belonging on this earth, we won't find it. We fit in none of the places.

We don't belong anywhere but with Jesus and His people in a second Eden, in a perfect paradise. And the Bible says He has a home for every believer there in heaven. An address, finally, where we will be "in our element". We can't feel at home in CA or MT or any other combination of letters. We can't even feel comfortable in our own skin, as we are. But one day, we'll know belonging. And Jesus will heal us from the inside out. 

And then we'll know what it feels like to come home. 

Happy New Year, friends, from our temporary home to yours.

{p.s. for more thoughts along these lines, I remembered I wrote this post a while back with which my heart still resonates...}



  1. Great post, Leslie! Beautiful truth.

  2. Yes. So much truth. We don't belong here. We're strangers, aliens, citizens of heaven. For that homecoming I cannot wait.

  3. Leslie, I love this- and can SO relate. I wrote a very similar post on my blog last March when we took our first trip back to OR. <3