I have two homes.
One is my home in Canada, where my family resides and where I lived for the majority of my years before going to Korea.
And second is my church back in that hometown in Canada.
These are both places occupied by people I know clearly and dearly love. They are places where I have not only existed but where I have thrived. Where I have grown, where I have been planted, and where I have developed deep roots within. They are places that I’ve been spiritually calibrated to, magnetized to. They are places I belong to, and places my heart yearns to be.
Now let me clarify something: there are now other places (both in Canada and now in Korea), filled with groups of people, where I also feel comfortable and enjoy immensely, and where I’ve had many a superb and meaningful time. I love them greatly now. But, love them as I do, these places in Korea are ones at which I’ve only had one year to grow in, to love in. They’re places that, well…they just aren’t “home.” They are places which will never leave my mind and memory, places that have changed me and imprinted me, but… they are not truly home for me.
My true home (at least on Earth) is my family and my church.
And this isn’t just because they’re my “home,” simply in name. This isn’t just because it will be nice to return to a comfortable place (while still acknowledging future changes and readjustments to come upon my return).
It’s not only the number of years of I’ve spent in those places.
It’s not only all that I’ve learned while there, and from the people within.
It’s not only the joyful freedom I experience on a regular basis there (and still do from a distance, even now).
It’s not only that generations my family have been attending and involved with my church.
It’s not only that both places and the people within them rush me with those singular feelings of being at home and being known and loved, that are so challenging to encapsulate.
It’s not only that my literal and spiritual family are in both my church and my home, enough so that they feel inseparable.
It’s not only that they have held me, loved me and mentored me.
It’s not only that, even after living and learning in Korea for a year, gaining new dear friends and community, that I still am drawn home to these places for which video interaction and vacation visits are not enough.
It’s not only that my family and church are one and the same, with each member of my immediate family greatly vested in my church, and with others in the leadership and congregation having that similar familial influence and relationship.
It’s all of those things, and at such a deep, joyfully bonded level that is absolutely rooted in Jesus Christ, that I can’t imagine anything else indefinitely.
My church and my family are both institutions, places, bodies of people, family units, lives and hearts that I was born into and have since dedicated myself to. I’ve committed myself to them, and I know I must see that intent through – in person.
Specifically, my church desires to see the people within their congregation – their church family, their home – raised up in leadership, to grow and lead others the way they have been led in that place. And that is also what I desire.
I have invested myself in these places and others in my community back home, by extension. If I am rooted in my church and family back home, then I also am connected to other schools, churches, homes, and places of work and play that those roots have branched out and touched.
At these home(s), I’ve gone from a sapling to a shade-proffering tree, with a trunk firmly rooted in Christ and the soil I was planted in. My leaves have grown green, my bark has been carved with many initials and were someone to take a saw to me, they would find many rings of history.
In many ways, when I left Canada and came to Korea, I was uprooted, placed in a gigantic wheelbarrow and shipped off. After arriving, I was placed atop some soil and left to my own devices. As time went on, through rain and gravity wearing away some dirt around me, and the efforts of myself and others, my roots began to find their way through this new soil. I began to sink into it and enjoy it…yet, the whole time the wheelbarrow still sat to the side, waiting.
Now it’s soon coming time to be placed in that wheelbarrow again and shipped back home. I’m finding myself both joyful at reuniting with those I left behind yet saddened to leave those I’ve connected with so well here. A big surprise, I know, but it’s just one of those things I didn’t truly think about until it was almost in front of me.
It’s sure to be a bittersweet time, yet I can’t shake that anticipation of returning home, of letting go of my bags to run into a loved one’s arms and squeeze the living daylights out of them. Most likely there’ll also be tears, knowing myself. (I’m usually quite dependable in that department). I can’t help envisioning that homecoming, for both my family and church, and how much it will be like giving a fresh stir to a giant, simmering soup pot of something delicious and hearty.
Really, though, I’m anticipating following my ultimate home: Jesus. He’s the center of those homes I’ve talked of, and He’s created their DNA and mine. He’s why I came to Korea, and the biggest reason it’s felt as much of a home as it has. And now, He’s the reason I’m returning.
I’m containing my ecstatic feelings (for now) to see my home, to tell the people within it how Jesus has changed me while I’ve been gone, and to thank them for their continued love and support as I’ve been away. I’m a wee bit jittery to resume serving them and with them, laughing with them, encouraging them, being with them, and loving them as I am led.
What else can I say? It’s home.
Hearts Of Matched Emanation
/sentimental musings of the sticky maple syrup and melted cheese variety