Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, MOE!
Have you ever wanted to do this when someone asks you where you are from? Run your fingers over the choices and chant until you land on the ‘moe’ of home?
I remember the wide-eyed stares which met us as our three year-old son articulated his own evolving journey. He would recount the Florida house he just left, the BIG trip out west in our van, the Colorado house, the next BIG trip back east to Pennsylvania, the names and locations of the several places we stayed there, and he ended with a twinkling eye crescendo of our hopes fulfilled, one day, in our ‘Hungary house!’
And I have learned, through his brave little litany, to trust my son’s increasingly complex answer of ‘home’ to the God who writes his story. God created and formed our firstborn with a tender heart who longs for schedule and order and place. He also has given him an ability to enjoy the simple, as he has celebrated with a ‘Happy Home!’ from two years old, when we return to wherever the current ‘moe’ of home is.
And yet, through the lens of my own journey, his innocent, searching answer is rather profound.
The question of home finds voice through a toddler, and reveals that our souls’ growing understanding of ‘home’ is central to our life overseas. But too, we see this is quite possibly, the most fundamental search of any person from any culture or vocation.
Yet, are any of us really willing to take this journey?
It requires courage and an honest search for the heart of a God existing outside of time and space. And it cannot be simplified, trivialized, or rushed.
But a kind of ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe’ humor, does indeed, prove helpful.
For me, the question of home began long before I first soared above the ocean on a plane at twenty years old. It was around ten years old. This was the ‘beginning of the end’ of an idyllic life comprised of childlike wonder and play, and too, my family’s communal life working our dairy farm.
When we left that farm, we moved two short miles. Yet, that move represents the most traumatic uprooting I have ever known.
The fallout of our loss spanned years which comprised my adolescence and transition into adulthood. My childhood ended when we left that farm. And every gilded view of home faced the startling reality of a world forever lost in that first tragedy of long ago.
Am I making too much of this?
I don’t think so.
The address of the farm was the one I had to keep stopping myself from writing or saying when asked where I lived. The silencing of the ‘why’s’ related to God in the wake of all my little girl eyes could not understand, were the unspoken questions that kept me running for years. It took the next full shattering of dreams to bring me back to my parents. Only then, as I came to look fully upon the good, bad, ugly and ultimately redemptive face of my first home was I ready for a true journey to answer the universal question of ‘home.’
My current quest to live well overseas, in this second phase of cross-cultural ministry, looks so very different than the first. It is because the roots I seek to plant for my family and I, in our physical home and ministry, are not new ones, but renewed ones.
These roots find ultimate nourishment from the hope of my Forever Home. I am learning the overcoming heartbeat of God’s promises in Christ to receive me in full and forever embrace One Day.
Yet these roots, too, are the ones which have grown deep throughout my life. They remain healthy as I dig through the soil for rocks and weeds accumulated throughout my entire life’s story related to home. They are renewed as I take time to let go of the pain and embrace the beauty.
There is depth and great readiness for growth in these roots encompassing what is behind, yet looking ever towards what is ahead. And as I remain in them, in God’s story and my own, I become a living home for God wherever in the world I am. Home is no longer elusive. It becomes the zucchini bread I make just like my mother and share with friends and neighbors. Too, it’s the place of love and acceptance with which I receive the doubts and fears of a struggling student. It’s the warm hugs or two kisses which I give before and after interactions with others.
This perspective of home grants the freedom to realize this is a journey we share with everyone who has ever lived. There are a million ways to lose home. Death. Violence. Divorce. Abuse. Addiction. Busyness. Economic downturn. Chronic illness. Mental illness. Then there are the dark lines of political unrest, poverty, oppression, grave injustice, frantic races for success, false security and gross materialism. They mar every culture’s ability to provide a true home.
Some may have easier answers to the ‘place’ of their home, but we all live in the ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe’ complexity of what it really means.
Remembering this guards our hearts from resentment for the sacrifice of leaving our friends and family, in order to struggle through life as the crazy, misfit strangers. And positively, we receive the gift of a calling that drives us to this heart of hearts question of ‘home’.
And if we are parenting Third Culture Kids, we have even greater reason to find the courage to wrestle through to a deeper understanding of home. Because we want our lives to speak to our children with an abiding confidence, an authentic search for truth, and a continual embrace of the Only Love that perfectly defines Home.
As we come to rest in the arms of God, to know His is the face of Home every good thing of every home we have ever known points towards, we don’t dread being asked, ‘where are you from?’ We can run our finger over the possibilities with thanksgiving and reach the resulting ‘moe’ of our home. And just like my son as a three year-old, we speak full and loud with a twinkling flourish of delight as we remember how One Day all of our hopes will be realized in our Truest of True Home.
What about you? Where are you with the question of ‘home’? What have been the most significant discoveries in your own journey? I would love to hear from you in the comments.