Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Where Is Home?

In the years since I moved from Kansas to Washington, DC, there has been a slow transition taking place within me. For quite some time after arriving in DC, I thought of myself as a Kansan temporarily living in DC. As time went on, however, I came to feel increasingly integrated into life in DC. My center of balance began to tip.

I became aware of this tipping during a visit to Wichita in May of 2011. While there, I was surprised to encounter within myself a sense of alienation from the way of life in Kansas. I was used to DC's high-pressure, accelerated lifestyle, and after almost two years away from Kansas, my hometown of Wichita seemed sleepy, mellow and unambitious. "Why is everyone so slow?" I wondered. A Wichitan might ask, "why are you in such a rush?"

Since that trip, I have continued to change, imbibing more of DC's pace and mannerisms. Returning to Kansas for Christmas this year, there is no doubt in my mind that DC is now more home to me than Wichita. This is huge. Three years ago, I never would have fathomed this happening. Once a Kansan, always a Kansan - I thought. Yet, somehow in the course of just a few years, DC has become primary.

How do I explain this? What makes a place home? Is it the place where you grew up? Is it where you keep your stuff? Maybe it is proximity to satisfying work or recreation? Or is it the presence of family and friends?

All of these things are important as components of what makes a place home, but the core is something more subtle. For me, the essential question that determines where I call home is, "Where is God calling you to serve?" Only this question - and the answer that I find in the Spirit's call on my life - has the power to transform me into someone who is at home in Washington, DC.

Jesus Christ has called me here, and he walks ahead of me in the way. The Spirit gives me breath to say to him, like Ruth before me, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay."(1) He himself becomes my home, and his word becomes my residency. I will be at home wherever he plants me, though it takes years to adapt.


1. Ruth 1:16


Marcus said...

Having not lived in the same city for more than 3 years at a time since my early 20s, I can definitely feel the seintiment. Moreover, I could feel exactly how distant I was growing on each visit, figure out in each rough reaction where some of my older habits came from, worse yet why I never would have found Jesus at home, rather having clung to atheism than join "those." And now that my family has moved away, Wichita seems like a place to spend an afternoon in some chosen company on the way to somewhere else.

("Those" is not University Friends Meeting, by the way. "Those" were way before that - and regrettably continue.)

It's even stronger now that I live outside the country. It's not just my home city or state that's blurred. It's the fact that I belong to this country as much as that one, which is not really at all. In some ways, it's depressing. In others, it's freedom.

Matt said...

This struck a chord with me as I too have lived away from home for most of adulthood - which in my case, has benefited me enormously but still leaves me with a sense of being disconnected.

Thanks for sharing, Micah - and Marcus.