During the first week after I returned from England, I walked into QuickTrip intent upon purchasing a cup of coffee. Not wanting to stand in line while scrambling for my change, I began to fish it out of my wallet whilst standing next to the line of lids. A glance up at a large sign advertising the energizing beverage told me that it was ninety-nine cents a cup. Perfect. I began to reach into the change pocket of my purse out of habit for a pound coin, only to recall with a tinge of embarrassment in which country I was currently standing. I quickly grabbed a dollar instead, buttoned up my wallet and put it away, deciding I would simply throw the penny change into my purse.
I walked up to the counter with my dollar extended and the Quicktrip man told me, “That will be $1.08 please.”
I just stared at him.
He stared back.
Then it dawned on me. Taxes!
I clumsily began to dig through my wallet to find eight cents more, while even more clumsily attempting to explain myself, thankful that there was no line behind me.
“I forgot about taxes.”
How can anyone forget about taxes?*
Where am I again?
This is a multi-layered time of transition, as we have moved twice since I returned to the US and my parents already moved out of the house while I was gone. It’s as if I’m still traveling until I look out the window and see the same sort of brown winter landscapes I have seen since my youth. Many of my clothes are still stored in my suitcase, and I wake up every day to a room someone else decorated (and wonder if they would notice if I painted over that atrocious canvas). I worry about putting rings on someone else’s coffee table, and Google reviews to find the best place nearby to procure Asian food. For the most part I’m still wearing the outfits I took on the trip and I have no idea where my winter coat might be stored. Friends who lived nearby do no longer, and their absence is a very present reminder that things are different. My errands are regularly strung between four towns because there’s no such thing as a true home base at the moment, and I consequently miss my exits frequently because running on autopilot is no longer efficient.
I feel out of place, like a foreigner in the state in which I was raised. Since the end of July I have switched beds and transferred my things (those not in storage) at least twenty-two times. When traveling, the thing I look forward to about being home (people aside) is returning to that familiarity and the precious stability that characterizes “home.”
There’s that word: home. It at first seems a simple word, but lately it has seemed increasingly more nebulous. I’m not really certain where “home” is anymore. They say that “home is where the heart is?” Well, both pieces of my heart and my Google homepage are still in England. Other pieces are scattered about the US, across the globe and yes, some are still here.
I’m still on a journey.
I must tell you that as much as I enjoy traveling and am thankful for it, I long for stability. I long to unpack that suitcase and put it away until an adventure arises. I long to go through those boxes I have in storage and find things to decorate my space. I long to feel comfortable, like I actually belong somewhere and that people understand me.
But the piece of my heart that longs for somewhere I have not yet been reminds me that this experience may be God’s way of reminding me that this earth is not my home.
I long for something better than this earth, I truly do, and one day I will see it. In the meantime I need to remember that I don’t belong here, so it’s good that I don’t feel as if I fit in with the others. I need to remember this is not permanent, so I shouldn’t build my life around things that I will one day leave behind. Just as it would be crazy to pour scads of money into decorating this apartment that I will only be living in for a few months, it would be crazy to invest the most valuable parts of my life in something that I will soon leave behind.
Even if I find a place to exist for more than one month at a time, I will still be on a journey. I will be sojourning until the day I die and start to really live. Home is with my Creator. It will be permanent. It will be beautiful. God will be there. I will have nothing more for which to hope when I reach this home. I’m excited.
But where is my home until I reach my heavenly one? I’m learning to find my home in Christ. In God I have found my one thing that never changes. I have found my stability in Him, something that means more to me with every passing day. I’m learning to long for a better country, a heavenly one, while daily traveling through this one with Him who has made a way for me to reach that destination.
“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
(I highly recommend reading the entire chapter to get the full context and to absorb the amazing content)
*=In case you are wondering how someone could forget about taxes, in England they are already added in, so if the sign says “.99” that is what you pay!