Home. Such a powerful word. It stirs up so many emotions and memories for most people. I've always appreciated the home my parents created for us when I was growing up. It wasn't perfect but I wouldn't change anything about it. I loved the security and love I felt there. It wasn't about the house as much as it was about the people and the life we lived together. I was the quiet one of the family but I was always taking it all in and storing all of the memories and feelings away to go back to when I was feeling alone.
My mom loves to tell the story about my first day of college. They had said their goodbyes and left for the hour drive home. When they got to the front door the phone was ringing and my mom said, "That's Stacey." And it was. I was scared and wanting to go home. I didn't go home that day but I did a lot in college, and after college I lived there again for a while. I always seemed to find a reason to go back.
Until I didn't. Or couldn't. Or wouldn't...
If there was one part of my life I wish I could go back and erase and do over it would be my early twenties. It is one of those typical good Christian girl meets bad boy and thinks she can change him stories. But I didn't change him. He changed me. I became someone I don't even like to think about and I hurt my family in so many ways. Walls were built that seemed impossible to tear down again. I left home and followed him to another state.
What followed was the worst nightmare I could ever imagine. But it wasn't a nightmare. It was my reality. I don't want to share details because I have made the choice to leave that part of my life behind me and not bring it into my present. I rarely talk about it unless I think it will be helpful to someone else and even then I am very protective of my heart. I can say that I was feeling hurt, abandoned, abused, and broken.
I wanted to go home so badly. I dreamt about it and thought about it all of the time. But I couldn't bring myself to ask. Partly pride. Partly fear of rejection. And a lot of shame and regret. I will never ever forget that morning, though, that I called my mom and was trying so hard to chit chat but inside my heart was breaking, and somehow through all of the silly chatter she heard my silent pleas to come home. And I will always be grateful to her for this... she didn't make me ask. She asked me! Do you want to come home? The floodgates of my emotions opened and I could hardly answer through the crying. Yes, yes, I want to come home! I need to come home!!
We talked and she told me to go drop my classes (I was attending graduate school at the time) and to put my notice in at work. So I did both things that day. I put my two weeks in at work, dropped my classes, and started making plans for my return home. The weight that had been lifted from my heart and mind was immeasurable. I felt light and free and hopeful that the nightmare was going to end soon.
I had no idea that my mom and dad had dropped everything and were on their way to pick me up that very day. When I heard a knock on my door that night I was beyond shocked to see them and my little sister there! I can't remember exactly but I think we packed up my life in like two days and they got me out of there for good. I can remember driving my little car, packed with all my stuff, behind my dad and as I left that city I felt the life coming back into me. I was still bruised and a little broken but I was feeling like I could breathe again. I was going home.
I can't even tell you how grateful I am to my parents for the way they treated me. It was such a beautiful picture of the prodigal son and his father. The way they didn't wait for me to come home but came to get me and bring me home. I really couldn't imagine that they would do that. Not after the way I had hurt them. They brought me home and let me rest and heal and didn't ask questions. There were no "I told you so's" thrown at me and I deserved them. They just let me be and I knew that I was loved and a part of the family. It was unconditional love at its very best.
After that, home meant even more to me because I knew what it was like to long for it. I appreciated everything about it and them. And, today, with a child who is about to go out on her own path I pray that she will always know that she has a home to come home to no matter what may happen in her life. We can never predict what is around the corner or how one choice can change the course of our lives, but we can create that safe place to return to when we need it.
I can never talk about home without thinking of Heaven, our true home. Right now we are all wandering and searching and messing up but there is a Father who is waiting to welcome us home. He is running to us with arms open wide and asking us the question our heart longs to hear.
Do you want to come home?
Yes, yes, I want to come home! I need to come home!