Dr. Ashley Hales is a wise and generous mama-writer. I enjoy following along at her blog - especially as she shares stories of finding grace right in the middle of life's messiness. Today I'm over at her place - Circling the Story - with an reflection on the gift of coming home again.
As I write this, my dad and my brother are in the driveway tuning up the race-car they take to the local dirt track on the weekends. There is a rich, savory aroma hanging in the air from the bean soup my mom is simmering on the stove. I can hear the sound of plastic hitting plastic as my sons try to build a tower with blocks in the living room. And nestled in the couch with a cup of decaf coffee and time to write, I smile at the familiarness of it all.
I am home.
Not the home where I live most of the time, the tiny spot in the family dorms where my husband makes homemade pesto and the boys and I dance to trombone music in the afternoons. I’ve left that home for a month away. I’m living again in my parent’s house these five weeks, in the town where I was born, the neighborhood where I was raised.
It’s good to come home.
There are the obvious reasons, like not being the only one in charge of planning the meals and the gift of a bubble bath while my parents take my sons to the park. There are hugs from my favorite church ladies and lazy afternoons spent laughing with my mom while the boys nap. We tell inside jokes and eat meals made from family recipes and enact little rituals I’d forgotten about, like the daily pot of oatmeal and coffee hour after church. Present in all of these moments is an ease that comes from being totally known. These are my people, they love me. It’s like a long exhale after 6 months of making a life in a new city. I don’t have to tell my stories here, because my family already knows them.
It wasn’t always this way.
Throughout late adolescence and into my college years, I was always trying to conceal, finding acceptance through revealing only parts of myself I thought people wanted to see. I was a Christian living with deep doubt, an athlete practicing an eating disorder, a beloved sister and daughter struggling through depression and a string of broken relationships. I didn’t want to be fully known because I hated the reality of who I was, didn’t want to be really seen because some part of me knew that I would have to change. Being known felt scary.
Because home wasn’t a place I could hide.
My family saw me, saw the distance between who I was trying to be and the real aching broken person underneath. They challenged me, asking questions I wasn’t ready to answer but needed to think about anyway. I didn’t come home often in those years, and when I did, the trips were short and busy. Coming back in that season was a taste of what I was dying for, a longing to be known and loved for who I was. But it was also a reminder that in order to live into that place fully, I needed to let go of the layers of sin and secrecy keeping me from the real connection I craved.
Eventually love changed me.
I found love in Scripture, in prayers prayed at recovery meetings, in the church I started attending. I found love in the quiet whispers of grace that spoke in my moments of weakness and self-doubt. I found love in the community of friends I met in a campus Christian group. And all this love reminded me of the love I’d known my whole life long, being known and held by the people who named me and raised me and saw me through dark days. For the first time in a long time I was ready to let them love me again.
Love led me home.
Now, home is a gift. It’s stories with my babies and loud laughter; it’s easy forgiveness and hope for each other. It’s a place where I can be fully myself and know that I’m accepted, even if my parents watch Fox News while I listen to NPR and my brother would rather talk Nascar than new babies. Home isn’t perfect and it isn’t always easy, but there’s a beauty in the ordinariness of being together inside these four walls, loving each other for who we really are.
And I’m so grateful.
Find this post where it originally appeared at Circling the Story by clicking here.