I sat on the linoleum with my back against the wall and wiped the tears off my face. I smelled something, and then I saw my ink-stained fingers knowing that I now had fingerprint dust on my face as well as my entire house and all of my belongings. How will I ever feel safe again? I thought to myself as I slumped down trying to avoid more fingerprint dust. My ever hopeful and practical husband was trying to figure out how to get the fingerprint dust cleaned off of everything we owned. I sat and felt very sorry for myself.
That was over ten years ago, and I remember the emotions of that coming home to our little rented house in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town. We had intentionally moved there while working with a local ministry to people who are poor and homeless. Coming home from a backpacking trip, we opened the door to a horrible sight. Our house had been burglarized. We walked into the house and everything had changed. Every single drawer was opened and rifled through. The refrigerator was open and therefore all inside ruined. Clothes were everywhere. Pillows thrown. It was so unsettling. I felt exposed, violated, and afraid.
Coming home can have emotions such as warm, pleasant, fuzzy sort of feelings. For some, coming home evokes anger, jealousy, or some unresolved conflict in a relationship. I had much to work through after that incident, and it took me a year or so after that to want to open the blinds on my windows. This experienced challenged my very belief in security. Panic hung around for a while like an unwelcome guest.
After all this time, I cannot open the door to my house after a trip without wondering, were we broken into this time? That experience changed coming home for me. It changed everything I thought about how “safe” I was. It caused consideration about what truly is important about belongings. This was a pivotal piece of the formation that led us to pack up and move overseas five years later. It led us to a lighter way of living.
In 2008, we came home after living overseas for almost 5 years. People still ask if I am glad to be back, and I truly am glad. Many folks who have been on mission oriented trips or longer extended stays have said that there is a need for help in adjusting to life afterward. I am still adjusting to life here, and it is an interesting adventure.
I have learned to appreciate the importance of place in life. I have also learned how to live in the moment. I hope wherever I am going or whenever I am coming home that I will continue to journey inward to the true home and center of all. For it is the journey of faith that is the ultimate coming home. This coming home is not easy nor warm and fuzzy at times. It is scary sometimes and it requires risk. Once we find our place in the arms of God, we are truly home at last.