And a few days ago I said goodbye to home again. You would think that after three years of the same trip, the same goodbyes, the same routine that things would be easier. But it seems that each time we say goodbye it becomes harder to leave– harder to leave my family in the states and harder to leave the family I’ve found in Honduras. Funny how that works.
I think one of the hardest parts of being a missionary is feeling like you have two homes, like your heart is in two different places. If you’ve ever moved far from home, you’ve probably felt the same way.
Home has always been an important concept to me. Home is a place where despite your shortcomings, you are safe, you are welcomed, you belong.
I remember three years ago, when I moved to Honduras how hard it was. I missed Texas. I missed my family. I missed my home. Transitioning to a new home in Honduras was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I came across an old passage in my journal a few weeks back. I was wrestling with God. I felt so isolated and alone. I missed home. I missed knowing I belonged.
“Father, I feel stripped and bare in so many ways. You never promised easy, but You did promise that You are good and Your ways are good. Father, my heart in so many ways is breaking. When left to myself I feel the breaking. I feel the pieces falling and crashing.
Loss. I feel the loss of the things I didn’t even know I loved. These things that I didn’t believe I loved, taken away. And I realize how much I loved them. Oh Father how much I loved them instead of You.
I didn’t know. Or maybe I did and chose to ignore the signs.
My hypocrisy was so deep inside of me I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see that my identity was not in you. I believed it was. My heart told me it was.
But liar. I now call the liar, as everything is ripped away– my friends, family, reputation, job, status, home, country, belonging, power, language, culture– everything. In this I realize that I had leaned into these things. I looked for life where there was none. I thought chasing these things was good. I didn’t even realize what I had let myself do.
Then it was gone.
Strong. I used to think myself strong; we can believe that when there is nothing causing us to break. But when we have the floor ripped out from under us, then what? I have been gripping white knuckled to the remnants of the foundation of dust which I had built my identity on.”
God worked on me in that season. He had to strip me bare of my old identity to bring me into a fuller understanding of who He is and what it really means to be home.
“‘Let go, my child,’ He was saying to me, ‘Let go. You cannot hold onto My hands when you won’t let go of what has already passed and gone.’
And He sits in sackcloth beside me, the King of Kings sits in the ashes of my old identity. And He holds my hands in His. The scars of my salvation staring back at me. Can I look into His eyes knowing what I have done?
‘Guilt is not your portion, and neither is the shame. I was broken for you, and I broke you for my kingdom.’
He motions to the dust around me, the ashes of my broken kingdom.
‘These ashes will grow gardens if you let them. Life will spring forth in a place where there was only a wasteland. Mourn no more. This is my promise to you.’
He wipes the tears from my face and I look into His eyes.
‘Are you brave? I will be with you every step of the way.’”
When I wrote these words, I wasn’t sure I had the strength to be brave. But God. He does more than we could ever ask or imagine. It’s been several years since I wrote these words, and I have seen gardens spring forth from the ashes. His promises ring true. The loss I felt was filled with blessings. Once I let go of my own kingdom, It made space for God to show me a piece of his kingdom, a part of his home. I’ve found a place where I am safe, I am welcomed, I belong.
Now, home is here in Honduras and it’s back in Texas, and I am so thankful for the deep relationships I have in both places. It is hard at times to feel my heart in both places, and it’s a funny problem to have. Only because of God’s blessings and goodness can I call both places home.
I know that my homesickness for two homes will be a struggle for as long as we live in Honduras and even when we say goodbye. But I also know that one day the Kingdom of Heaven will be a home where my heart doesn’t have to be homesick, where there will be no division between Honduras and Texas, where my Heavenly Father will look me in the eyes and say, “I am so proud of you for being brave, welcome home my child, welcome home.”