“Mom, are they kicking us out of the church?”
“Oh, no, Honey. We just moved, so we might have to go to another congregation.”
These are the conversations I have with my boys on a regular basis. My children are 6 and 4. The oldest has lived in four states; the youngest has lived in three. Not because we’re vagrant nomads who can’t keep a job, but because we are millennials trying to get a good job. It all amounts to a lot of change, all the time.
It’s hard not to be jealous at times of my parents’ lives–not that they haven’t faced their own set of challenges. But my mom married a man who owned a house to which she brought home each of her children (6 of them). I am in my thirties and will soon bring our third child “home” to a place we only plan on living for the next 6 months. She gets to be here 3.
I’m as sentimental about memories and sacred places as the next person. The struggle, the heartache, and the longing for stability are real.
I read a post on Instagram, today about the need for more transparency and reality on social media. Several commenters expressed their insecurities about their own homes. I had to laugh a little and say, “Man, I wish I had a home!” But I appreciated their words, because they came from a real place that all of us feel–that our lives aren’t quite as perfect as we wish they were. That there’s always something else on the “I dream of the day when…” list.
And even though my heart breaks a little every time my children or I have to let go of something special and leave it behind, there are blessings that have come with all of these crazy moves we’ve endured. I’ve learned, for instance, what is left when you take other things away. I have lived in tiny places while most of my belongings were stored in another state. I’ve lived hundreds of miles away from any family or previously-known friends. We have rented nice townhomes, ugly apartments, and even shared living spaces. We’ve lived among those who have a lot and those who have very little; downtown in big cities and out in the middle of nowhere. Through it all, my family has always been my family and my understanding of what is important has been refined. How fiercely my heart beats for my two boys (and baby girl)—wherever we are trying to teach them to love God, love others, be content, and find beauty in life. How grateful I am for my husband and companion and the one point of stability through it all as we have waltzed (ok, wandered) all over the country chasing dreams and realizing that home really is where your heart is; for me, where HE is.
Life is a gift. It isn’t always wrapped up in the prettiest paper of your Christmas fantasies, but its lessons are always poignant and valuable.
“Mom, you know something? Moving is kind of sad, because you have to leave your house… but also kind of funnish. That’s weird to me.”
It’s weird to me, too, Hon. But it’s also a good description of life. And I’m so grateful that you can see the good in addition to the hard—and share that perspective with me! And I’m also grateful for God who continues to provide miracles over and over that allow us to feel safe and loved and hopeful wherever we are. If not in our circumstances, at least in His hands. There are so many who suffer with challenges far greater than my own, but this I know: He is always present and His mercies are great.
This Christmas season I have thought a lot about the Savior who Himself said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” I’ve thought of His faith and His ability to serve others regardless of His own circumstance. I’m humbled by that and want to try a little harder to see beyond my own world and love those around me in their own needs. To detach myself a little bit more from social media and the rampant coveting of someone else’s perfect life, and instead focus on the many blessings I’ve been given, and on what is really important. To “lay up for [myself] treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”