Home is where the hard is
I can only speak to my own personal experiences, but I can say that they've been consistent for me. Maybe someone else will feel a little inspired or at least a little less alone.
My wife and I have led a life that has been predominantly characterized by challenge. We we got married, the preacher spoke of a Christian marriage as one where we are having to focus intently on Christ through our turmoil in the same way that a woman in labor focuses intently on those helping her. Little did that pastor know (because we have since met with him and accused him of foisting this on us) that he would be prophetically speaking of the way our lives would run together.
First of all, we are both first-borns. That means we are both right. Always. We are also polar opposites. That makes the always right thing substantially more difficult. Secondly, neither of us comes from families of great means. Finally--and others will corroborate this point--we have had some of the worst luck. In the last 11 years we've been together we have been stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night in sub-zero temperatures, had our vehicles broken into multiple times, had vehicles we've borrowed broken into, suffered from crazy and incredibly painful illness and injury, been falsely accused of wrongdoing, been falsely accused of idleness, been homeless, been unemployed, been on public assistance, lived with our parents because of joblessness, been financially responsible for things that have happened to us while at work, been abused by our employers, and suffered through infants with insane colic and food intolerances that left mucus and blood in their stool, suffered from postpartum depression, insomnia, and, you know, other stuff.
When I come home, it's not always so I can rest. In fact, when I come home it is usually to do the other work I have to do. I can say that--shy of an occasional Sunday afternoon nap--I haven't rested in 5.5 years. In a related story, I have a 5.5 year old son. I also have a 2 year old son. Now the less rest includes a free side dish of screaming and a whole buffet of crying.
So, what in the world do I go home for? Because it is my home. Many homes are broken up these days because they are hard. Some break because they are abusive, and I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the families that dissolve because life wasn't fun any more. Some people leave people that they once, "loved," but have since, "fallen out of love with." What a load of horse puckey. Life isn't some fairy tale. Fairy tales are fairy tales. They end happily every after--not life. Life is what life is; we get into trouble when we believe the things we are told to expect of it, which are usually not what it is. It'd be like everyone telling you that life is an airplane, when it's actually a bus. You climb on and expect to soar easily over the earth with non-allergen snacks in one hand and a very tiny, over-iced soda in the other. I've found that when I climb into life expecting it to be cramped, smelly, and full of people who are probably wanted in multiple states that I have a much more pleasant experience. Because that what I've hoped for out of life? No! Because that's what life actually is! I can continue to hope for something else while living in what is. I go home to my hard home where there is always crying, poop, chores, dishes, more poop, more crying and lots of broken things to fix, not because I love all the poop and the crying, but because that is actual, real life.
Now, is it all poop? Thankfully, no. 'Cuz that'd be gross. There is so much Love and Joy in my home that all the poop and crying are totally worth it. Now, mind you I didn't say 'in love' and 'happiness.' I said Love and Joy. Joy is a feeling that's not based in your circumstances. You can be miserable and still experience a Joy that is transcendent and providential. You can be so angry with someone that you don't dare speak for fear of what might come spewing out of your selfish mouth...and still Love them. All it takes is for you to set aside your self and serve the other people in your home. Realize that your circumstances don't determine your eternity. Realize that the foundation of your anger is a love of your self. When everyone commits to that, it works. It makes everyone else's sacrifice of self more meaningful when that is actually sacrificial. When it actually costs something. When it's hard.
So, home for me is where life is richest and fullest because the lowest lows are juxtaposed against the highest highs. The place I want to claim as mine--the beach in which I stick my flag and fight to the death for--is where my commitment to die to myself and serve those around me is matched by everyone I'm surrounded by. My hearth, my Love, and my existence is where actual hard, messy life happens. For me, home is where the hard is. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Jesse is a professor at Houston Baptist University. He also directs the school's theatre club, does handyman projects on the side, and produces features and short films. A Pastor's kid/missionary kid, his view of life is at the very least unique. And hopefully helpful.