Home. A thought that’s been heavy on my heart and constantly on my mind of late.
This is my first holiday season, my first Christmas, without either of my parents, and I have been feeling the loss of home. But what exactly is that?
The dictionary actually has eleven different definitions for the word “home,” but the one that most closely applies to what I’ve been feeling is: any place of residence or refuge. A home is a place of security, safety. A place where we feel free to just be. A place of comfort in times of illness or tribulation, a place to find refuge from the storms of life.
Our first homes are the homes of our parents, whether biological or adopted. No matter if our first home was happy or turbulent, stable or dysfunctional, our first feelings for the need for refuge began here.
If there was any goodness at all in the parents you were raised by, there is some small feeling of security and peace associated with the home of your childhood. My parents were far from perfect, but most of the mistakes they made were because of the love they felt for us and their own family of origin.
Which leads me back to my feelings this Christmas season. I am missing my father, my mother, my home. My refuge from the storms of life. But the loss of my parents—the loss of home—IS the storm of my life this season. So where do I run?
As I stepped out of the car this morning after driving my youngest to school, the sun was peaking its timid head through a blanket of clouds—the first peak all week. Instead of rushing inside (after closing the garage door) to begin my hectic pre-Christmas day, I chose instead to leave the door open and step back outside in the cool morning air and lift my fact to the bashful rays of light breaking through the bare trees. And as I looked up, I saw them.
Five or six simple clumps of leaves and debris nestled snug in the branches of the tallest trees. Squirrel nests. Bird nests. Home to the woodland creatures. In my own backyard, these tiny creatures of God have chosen to make their home, to seek their refuge from the storms of life—and poor little things have been barraged by storms this week filled with rain and wind.
The vision of these tiny, fragile little homes reminded me of what I have been missing most this year—but they also reminded me of the One who seeks to be the real refuge for my heart, my forever Home.
My parents, for all their mistakes and misguided dysfunction, tried to provide my brother and I with a home filled with love and safety and freedom to grow—just as my husband and I have tried to provide for our four sons, in our own inept way. But the real source of refuge, the true source of security and love, is not found in a building of brick and mortar, or even in the love—however imperfect—of a loving family. The real source of Home is our Heavenly Father, filling our hearts and minds with His perfect peace—the only real safety in this world.
Storms will forever bombard our lives, both real and figurative ones. Only God’s peace filling our hearts will give us the strength to withstand the onslaught. As I have had to struggle this year with the reality of grieving for the loss of my mother, the loss of my childhood home, I have felt His presence quietly waiting in the wings for me to turn around and run into His home, His arms, His love, yet never quite understood what it was He was truly offering.
Grief must be felt, must be dealt with, must be lived through; God’s presence does not remove the reality of harsh storms in this life. But I can hold fast to the truth that He will always be there, He will not die or leave me alone in a turbulent world, He will not leave me as an orphan to find my own refuge—because He is my refuge. He is my Home.
May we all find the true source of Home this Christmas Season. The Father that will be there, no matter what. The Son that chose to humble himself—first by being born in a weak, human baby’s body, then by pouring out His blood, His life, to give us our own forever home.The Holy Spirit that is waiting to fill your heart with His love and peace this holiday season!