I’ve never felt like I belonged.
There’s a small park near my house. It sits in the middle of an average suburban neighborhood and has a man-made pond with a couple of rickety benches along the trail that spans its perimeter. It has a forlorn feeling about it. When a few days go by without rain the pond starts to evaporate, yet for the handful of geese in the neighborhood, it’s home. I watch as they waddle around the trodden path oblivious to the decrepit look of their surroundings. Even after the last of the birds have migrated south this group of geese remains undaunted by the now frozen tundra.
Every spring there is a fishing competition at the pond hosted by our neighborhood. I see the sign advertising the event and am tempted to roll my eyes at its pretentiousness. But on the day of the event I watch as kids stream in from all over, faces hopeful and totes worthy of a fishing competition in the Keys. They are oblivious to their surroundings as they settle in for a day of fun.
I recently went back to Beirut, Lebanon for a visit after almost 30 years away. I was anxious to visit our home in the building on Verdun Street. I remember it being a mansion. My parents used to sit on the balcony every morning and every evening drinking their Turkish coffee while my three siblings and I played on the balcony swing. Despite the war outside our home, we were undaunted and hopeful, safe in our mansion on Verdun Street.
West Beirut in the 70s and 80s was not for the weak in heart and far from a center for evangelicalism. We were a few of the handful of Christ followers and felt it on the playground of the school we attended. We felt it as we drove down the war torn streets to and from our piano and ballet lessons. We felt it as we listened to the sounds of the early morning call to prayer. We felt it as we sang the old hymns in our tiny church building. But later on we’d make our way home to our mansion on Verdun street and we felt safe. For a moment in time, we belonged, undaunted and hopeful.
I stand in front of the building on Verdun Street and look up at the old balcony. The mansion has shrunk. The building is older, more worn out than I remember it to be. The swing is gone. So much has happened since those days on Verdun Street. I’m American now. My mother still drinks coffee in the morning and the evening, but she is alone now. I, too, am alone in a home of my own. I strain and listen to the afternoon prayers, a reminder that I still don’t belong.
Much later, I sit on a plane hollow inside. I’m not always sure who I am anymore. I now live in a suburban neighborhood with a decrepit pond that boasts a fishing competition for the hopeful. I open God’s word and read a familiar passage. The sound of the turning pages is the only familiar noise that I hear. For a moment I feel like I’m home and it dawns on me. This isn’t home, but it will do for now. Someday I’ll finally make it home and I will find a mansion waiting for me.
Until then I’m undaunted and hopeful. I’m going home, and someday I’ll finally belong.
Lina was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and now calls Chicago home. She has written three books: Thrive: The Single Life as God Intended and Stripped: When God’s Call Turns from Yes to Why Me? both published by Moody Press, and Resolved: 10 ways to Stand Strong and Live What You Believe by Baker House Publishers. Find out more about Lina and her ministry here: livingwithpower.org,
on Twitter, Instagram, or on Itunes Podcasts.