What is home? To some it is a place, to others a family; still, to others it is defined as familiarity that brings warmth and comfort. Every person defines “home” differently. To some, the word “home” brings negative connotations that are accompanied with pain as well as emotional, and unfortunately physical, scarring. To others, the word brings fond memories of family engaging in traditions or holidays, or maybe it is the memory of the simple things in life, standing in the kitchen and learning to cook with your mother, or going out for tea everyday with your father. Some believe that “home is where the heart is”. No matter where you are in life, home is wherever your heart truly desires to be.
As a person who lives thousands of miles away from my family, there are many times where I long to return to the days where I was sitting snuggled under a blanket with my dog on one side and my mom on the other as we watched movie together. Or, there were the times where the smell of the summer grass would flood my nose and I would sit in leisure on the back porch while the dogs ran in the back yard, the meat cooked on the grill, and I drank a glass of homemade lemonade. The nostalgia I was experiencing made me think that perhaps it isn’t the actual house, the belongings, or something particularly familiar that made me feel at home as much as it was the memories of the good times and the repetition of enjoyable past times with people that I loved.
In a profession where the calling of God on my life and the desire for “home” clash, I find myself at a place of impasse; too driven to pack it in and give up on the destiny that God has for me, but too homesick for the comforts of my memories that I fail to fully invest in what is in front of me. Searching for a way to reconcile the feelings of my heart, I continue down a path of introspection that causes me to realize that every feeling of home is wrapped up in a fond memory.
Memories, unlike many other things that bring comfort, have the ability to be made. Memories that comprise the comfort of “home” all involve times that are remembered with fondness. That fondness draws me into a place, into that feeling of comfort, the feeling of peace, joy, and love. As I started to sit and think about how homesick I felt, I was reminded of the scripture, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
It is easy to get so wrapped up in thinking about the goodness of the past that it makes it impossible to remember the promise of the future. When I treasure the things of the past, my heart permanently resides in the memories of things gone by. When I treasure the hope of the future, my heart resides in the expectation of things yet to come. In one way, you are living in a state of perpetual halt, not moving forward, not even aware of the reality around you. In the other, you are moving forward with a complete awareness of the here and now.
Positioning matters. With your heart poised for the future you walk forward with the expectation to make new memories. You live with the understanding that home is what you make it and fond memories can be created. An experience cannot become a fond memory until it is experienced. Standing still, looking back, living in the recollections of our past does not leave room for us to experience anything new and therefore, eliminates the possibility of new memories.
Living in the light of our former glory days is a dangerous thing. Trying to live vicariously through our memories causes us to forget the fact that the potential of our future is even better. God says that He takes us from glory to glory. He tells us that He has a plan for us that brings a future and a hope. He says that He is capable to do more for us than we have ever asked or imagined. All of those statements imply that our better days are ahead, not behind.
We can see this principle lived out through the life of the Egyptians in the Old Testament. Exodus 16:2-3 says, “The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”” It is understandable for the people of Israel, in the midst of the desert to recall and long for the few good memories that they had of Egypt. When times are less than ideal, it is easy to look back and only remember the good times, conveniently forgetting all the struggles and heartache that accompanied those years. Just a few chapters earlier we read,
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.”- Exodus 3:7-9
In the middle of the dessert, they find themselves remembering the handful of good things that were available, while quickly forgetting the enormous amount of suffering they endured as slaves who were beaten, abused, and treated like dogs. Rather than look forward to what the Lord had promised, a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey”, they chose to retreat to their past and live in the “safety” of what they already knew. They desired to go back into what they were familiar with even though that place served only to bring them misery, pain, and monotonous work.
When we choose to live in our past we are choosing to live in a place that never advances, that has no future, which has no hope. Sure, you know what to expect and things are predictably safe, but there is no advancement. With the faith of the Lord there is not only advancement, but there is protection from the Father.
Don’t let your circumstances fool you into returning to somewhere from which you have already come. You will surely end up repeating the same hurts, struggles, and battles that you experienced in that place the first time you were there. You will find yourself right back at the starting line with no credit for the part of the race that you have already run.
Guard your heart from envying the things of the past. Instead, gazing toward the future with expectant hope, look forward to all that the Lord has for your future. Find joy in knowing that new and better memories are waiting to be made. Your home is not in your past, your home is where the treasure of your heart lies. For those of us who have claimed the title “Christian”, our heart is called to treasure the things of Heaven. With our heart residing in that place, we find our home in the promise of future glory and hope, rather than the glory days of our past. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
-by T. Salagalli