I pulled my car up into my driveway this afternoon after a four-hour ride back from San Luis Obispo. My friends always remind me to let them know when I arrive so they know I'm safe, but I wondered, so, do I say "I'm home" or "I'm back" or... what?
For the past two or three years, SLO and Chino Hills (where I was raised and am currently living for a few months with my parents) have waged a civil war in my heart, and only recently have I realized that SLO wins. SLO will always win. God wants me there, for now at least.
When I walked in the door, my parents welcomed me in with "welcome... home?" I knew in that moment they'd read my latest blog post. No shame or embarrassment or guilt came over me, just a sense of relief, a touch of happiness, and a spoonful of peace in knowing that I'm being honest and it feels SO good. It's true. Chino Hills isn't my home. This isn't where God wants me, for now at least. My parents and the few friends with whom I keep in touch are really the only reasons I come back.
He's nestled into my place in SLO, and by "place" I most certainly mean "home". SLO is the most comfortable, welcoming, fitting home I've ever lived in, despite it being the one I've lived the least amount of time in. My heart is there.
My parents and I finished eating our dinner on the backyard patio tonight and, after helping them clean up dishes, I caught the last bit of daylight and went for a brisk walk through the neighborhood. The SoCal sunset, in my area, is hidden behind houses and the beach is at least forty minutes away, so I stared up at the sky to admire what was there. And that's when it hit me.
Well, it wasn't so much of a "hit", but rather more like a gentle hug from God, as He opened my eyes to help me see that the sky here, in SoCal, is the same sky I adore everyday in SLO. He is the same God here as He is there. Similarly, I am the same woman He's designed here as I am there. My surroundings are different - fewer friends (my best friends being in SLO), a church and community to which I feel little connection, a coastline that isn't five miles away, and the list goes on - but my God is the same.
I am the same. Nothing about me or Him changes as I cross city lines.
Ahhhhh. In that moment, my surroundings felt a bit more familiar and welcoming. I didn't and still don't feel at home and that, quite frankly, is because I'm not at home. Yet, I felt God pull me a bit closer than I've felt in a while.
My lateral/longitudinal pinpoint says nothing about my proximity to my Father. And the same goes for you. He made one Earth with one sky. We can look at that sky and remind ourselves that what's most important is not our surroundings (those that feel "homey" and those don't). What's most important is that, despite any surroundings, we are still His children.
I am loved just as much in SoCal as I would be were I in China or Australia or Italy (someday).
I am loved just as much in my confusion and my sin as I am in my rejoicing and gratitude. My pastor reminded us in church this week that faith is not just for when we need comfort. It's not a box of tissues to wipe my tears after a heartbreak or blow my nose during an illness. Faith is a rock on which I build my entire life - my values, my goals, my desires, my trust. It's my fuel for growth and development.
My faith doesn't change no matter where I go.
SLO is my home - I'm sure of that. Thankfully, my God is my God and I am me no matter how far away from that physical location He takes me. And with that, I can sleep well tonight in my home away from home :)
Makes 2 parfaits
1 cup non-dairy yogurt
2/3 cup Peanut Butter Almond Granola
1 cup sliced strawberries
2-4 tbsp. strawberry jam
- Assemble the parfaits by placing 1/2 cup yogurt at the bottom of each bowl, then 2/3 cup granola, followed by 1/2 cup strawberries.
- Drizzle 1-2 tbsp. strawberry jam on top of each parfait and serve immediately.