For the past 4.5 years, I've struggled with the concept of "home". I spent 18 beautiful years of my life in a little white house in Purcell, Oklahoma; going to Oklahoma is definitely home. But then I spent 4 years in Lawrence, Kansas, starting my own life and growing up with wonderful people surrounding me; in a way, Kansas is also home. Then there's that whole concept of "home is whenever I'm with you". Sometimes home is whenever I'm with Michael, or Alyssa, or Bethany, or Gretchen. Every summer when I hit that old dirt road and arrive at Rainbow and see the cabins in the quad, I also feel that sense of "home-ness", knowing that I belong at camp and that great quantities of camp aspects have my heart.
All of these feelings of home are nurturing and life-giving. When I am in Purcell, I feel free to be me and loved unconditionally, even as I am fully known by all townspeople. When I am in Kansas, I feel free to be independent, free to grow and make mistakes and still be loved for my quirky self. When I am with my favorite non-family people, I feel joyful and part of relationships that will last no matter what, free to kick off my shoes and share a glass of tea (or watch tv shows on conspiracies without being judged). When I am at camp, I feel connected to God and others and grasp that greater sense of community and purpose that stirs my heart to want more.
Here in Iowa, I feel none of these things. Yes, I have a physical apartment with my name on the lease, but on nights like these where the plumbing in said apartment has somehow completely broken over night, I begin to live out of my car, driving around from place to place in order to occupy my time until I can finally fall asleep somewhere. This feeling of homelessness sinks into my heart, making me feel overwhelmingly lonely and helpless to take care of myself.
But then I think of how millions of people around the globe are actually really truly homeless, and how awry plumbing would actually be a blessing, because it would mean that they actually had a shelter in which to sleep (even if there were no place to pee). True, I don't really have a place of my own at which I can stay tonight...but I have been blessed with a wonderful fellow intern who let me shower at her place this morning, made me a warm, home-cooked breakfast while I was using her facilities, and is letting me camp out on her couch later tonight. I have a supervisor who is letting me move into her empty two-story house to keep it occupied for the remainder of my internship (she even has a working heater and a fully-functioning oven!). Even better, I still have a tangible home in Oklahoma, a tangible home in Kansas, a spiritual home in my friends, and an annual weekly home at camp, all of which I can pretty much visit at anytime.
And when I put it into perspective, I see how incredibly blessed I am, and how selfish I can be to be throwing a pity party because I don't have plumbing. In this season of my life, I think God is showing me how He created me to need other people and to stop leaning on my own understanding. They say the average human only has 2 people whom they can truly trust; I can think of at least 10 such people in my own life. I am loved beyond my comprehension. I have people who truly care about me, and, on those occasions where I do find myself homeless, are willing to take care of me and to instill a small sense of home in my heart in whatever way they can. It's hard for me to tell people I need help, or that I need a place to sleep, but what I have found is that when I am vulnerable about my needs, it teaches me how to be strong AND dependent, and gives me a chance to receive blessings from the goodness of others. Since it's November, I keep seeing Facebook friends writing a post every day about what they are thankful for. I have nothing against that (and actually kept a thankfulness journal log for an entire year....if you are REALLY bored you can delve into blogs past to read that insanely long list....) but I think that we so often only think of what makes us grateful when it is the cool thing to do. As I am continuing to learn lessons about how great is God's love for me and how much He provides for me and wants me to accept love and care from others, I find my soul overflowing with thanks. I will continue learning to reach out to others and to admit my needs. In turn, I hope to also be able to give back to others even as I have received. I pray that a spirit of gratitude continues to be formed in me, and continues growing across my lifespan. Hopefully, this time of homelessness will not last long. Hopefully, the lessons that God is continuing to teach me in this season of life will continue for years to come, even after I once again have a place where I can pee.
And so, tonight I will be somewhat homeless, and I will be okay.