When people ask me where I’m from I usually have a crisis. Never one to have a lack of words, answering such a simple question is hard for me.
If you have 30 minutes I’ll tell you the story of how I was born in California, have done two stints in Michigan, was raised mostly in Texas, then spent adulthood in Minneapolis and Louisville, and now spend my days in Little Rock, Arkansas.
But if you have less than 5 minutes, I’ll tell you I’m from Texas. It’s where I grew up. It’s what I remember most. It feels the most nostalgic to me. The home of my childhood feels the most rooted to me, even after all these years.
Texas is also the home of my wanderings, my failings, my running from God and his claim on my life. Texas scared me for a long time. Until one day I wanted to have a hometown to hang on to. I wanted to have a place to say was my own. I wanted identity and roots. The place where God met me in my sin and pulled me out of it seemed like the most logical place. It might not have been where I was born, but it was where new life took root in me.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a real hometown, where you visit old friends, have a favorite place to hang out, and where everything looks just like you remember it. When I visit my parents in Florida, I don’t have multiple friendships to maintain from growing up years. I don’t have people to see. I just have my parents and two of my brothers.
And they are my home. Where they are, my truest roots reside.
Because we never had a hometown, the people were my home. The meal around a table is the home that has stayed with me, even if the table is different than the homemade table and benches my dad made when my parents first got married. The people are still there. The food and recipes that make me feel at home are still there. My dad’s pancakes. My mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. Their furniture has changed. The physical home has changed locations. But the people remain. The memories last.
I’ve often thought about my longing for a hometown in the context of my coming home in heaven. What’s here is going to be renewed. It won’t stay the same. The earthly treasures will be destroyed one day (Matt. 6:19). But the bones that make up the home, the people, the feast, the fellowship around the table, are what stays (Rev. 19:6-9). It’s what is waiting for us. In a lot of ways my lack of a permanent physical home here is getting me ready for the permanent home that my Father is preparing for me (John 14:2-3).
Home for me has never been about a place. In many ways it’s kept me always longing for something more permanent. But it’s also taught me that home is about the people in it. Homes are nothing without the flesh and blood filling its rooms. The work that we do in our homes every day, the cleaning, the laundry, and the feasting around the table are all for the people, not so our homes can be made much of. Laughter makes a home. Game nights make a home. Pancakes and spaghetti and meatballs that fill hungry bellies make a home. From California to Texas to Florida my one constant has been the people that share my name and my DNA. They are my home. The memories cannot be contained in a hometown, because my hometown stretches across America. And until we get to our permanent home, that will have to do.
Courtney Reissig is a wife, mom, and writer. She is the author of the new book Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God.
Welcome to a guest series I’m calling, “Home: Musings and Memories.” I’ve invited writers from all over the Internet to share their stories from home—in part, because nex month, I’m publishing a book called, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home (IVP, May 2017). I believe home is our most fundamental longing, homesickness our most nagging grief. Most of all, I believe that the historic Christian faith has something to say about that desire and disappointment.
The story of Jesus is a home story.
Thanks for joining me and these other fantastic writers in the months ahead in our search for home—and the God who makes its hope possible.