The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) defines ‘home’ in a number of ways. It is most commonly used as a noun but it can be an adjective or adverb…but I’m not an English student so I can’t help you. Here are the defines the OED gives for the noun ‘home’
The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
- The family or social unit occupying a permanent residence.
- A house or flat considered as a commercial property.
- The district or country where one was born or has settled on a long-term basis.
- A place where something flourished, is most typically found, or from which is originates.
- A place where an object is kept.
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering why on earth I am writing a blog post about ‘home’. Well, I can answer that niggling question before it even gets asked. Why am I defining what a ‘home’ is? Surely everybody knows.
Basically, I do not have a home to go back to. When I say ‘I am going home’ I mean I’m going to visit my sisters. When I say ‘I’m going home’ I mean I am going to the place where I spent the last ten years of my life. But this place I call ‘home’ isn’t home, because I don’t have one. I don’t have a place where I live permanently, especially as a member of a family. I don’t have a permanent residence. I’m sure that both sets of God Parents are shouting at their computers saying that I do have a home: with them. I know I do but I feel like I’m intruding, that’s how I felt last Christmas when I spent three weeks with my God Parents. It was worth it, don’t get me wrong, worth spending time with family and rekindling the relationship we had never been allowed to have but I just felt out of place.
I’ve never really had a place to call home. Sure, I’ve never been homeless but I’ve never felt that any house I’ve lived in has been a ‘home’. Even the house I’m living in at the moment isn’t necessarily home. When I lived in Banbury, it wasn’t really ‘home’. Sure, I lived with my sisters which was great and I loved it but I never felt safe or protected or loved. When I loved care placements and didn’t live with my sisters, that wasn’t a ‘home’. When I moved to Aber to come to uni, I didn’t think this would become home. However, in reality, Aber has become the only home I have ever really known. I love this place so, so much. I feel safe and protected and loved and never ever want to leave. The people of Aber welcomed me with open arms. The church family accepted me for who I was and am and that’s never happened before. My uni friends don’t ask too many questions and the ones they do, they get more upset about it than I do.
As the Christmas holidays roll around, and all my friends head home to their families – I’m staying in Aber. For a number of reasons, a) I have a friend on exchange who needed somewhere to stay; so I offered the unoccupied room in my house. Why not? B) I don’t want to intrude on anybody for three weeks. I’m paying rent on a house where I can stay, so why not remain in Aber? I went to my God Parents last Christmas which was great but I feel like an intruder. And C) I have nowhere to call home, no permanent base where all my family are. I don’t talk to my dad and my mum’s dead so… Don’t get me wrong, this Christmas is going to be intense. This is the first Christmas I’m spending ‘away from home’, the first Christmas I’ve spent without seeing family, the first Christmas where I can control how things turn out. There is one thing I can guarantee though, there will be a lot of tears.
Why am I writing a blog post about this? Why am I blinking back tears? Because (oh dear, never start a sentence with because) for the first time in a very long time, I was made to feel loved and cared for and part of a family. I went for cake at the Rectory last night and quite a few of my friends were there. Conversation got round to people talking about how their accents would change when they went home for Christmas. One friend said he would start talking all proper and posh whereas another friend said he would start talking all Northern. So I reply with ‘you’ll be all posh, you’ll be all northern, and I’ll stay like this because I’m here all Christmas.’ To say they were a little shocked is an understatement. One of them went ‘you’re here all Christmas?’ and I’m like ‘yep’. The look on his face was priceless. He then asked the obvious question ‘why’ which is fair enough and I answered him. Being a care kid means I don’t have a home, my family is broken and where else am I going to go? I don’t have a home. And he said something that really struck home, something that I knew was true but didn’t really take on board. He said three things to me last night.
- I have a home with my Heavenly Father.
- I have a home with my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
- I will always have a home with (us) them.
This concept is hard to comprehend for someone like me, for someone who has never felt loved like that. For the first time last night I truly felt like I had a family that cared and I know that my sisters care and that my God Parents care and even though I don’t talk to him, my dad cares but I felt that I had a family who I could call upon stupidly late at night to tell me it was all going to be okay.
I have a home with my Heavenly Father and for the first time that excites me. I know that my mum is living the high life because she’s with Jesus. I know that when my life on earth ends, I will be at home with the most loving Father of them all. There’s a line from a Phil Wickham song that jumps to mind here – ‘who makes the orphan, a son and daughter’. And it’s so true, I am part of the biggest family ever, I have the best Father of them all. I have the best home there is.
I have a home with my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I have the best friends in the world because of church and because of Jesus. I don’t know where I would be without them. Particularly the friends that said these things to me last night. These are the friends that get more upset about my life than I do, the friends that when I say I’m staying in Aber get upset, the friends who will give me a hug when I need some (and even when I don’t)… my Brothers and Sisters in Christ are the best family anyone could ask for. I know that they won’t judge and that they won’t ask annoying questions.
The last point my friend made was the one that really struck at me. The last point really plucked at my heart strings because no one has ever said that to me before. No-one other than my God Parents (who for the purpose of this I’m ignoring because it’s kinda their job!) No one has ever said that I have a home with them. I was more surprised that it was this group of friends, and this particular friend, who said that I have a home with them because the amount of times I’ve screwed things up with them – really recently – is insane.
I don’t even know if there is a point to this blog. I don’t know why I wrote it. I don’t know why my face is leaking whilst I type out this last part. All I know is, for the first time EVER I feel genuinely loved and accepted and part of a family that will never let me down. Sure, I’ll probably let them down but they’ll never leave my side. And I’m going to do my best not to leave their side, because I know that God has placed these people in my life for a reason. He has placed these obstacles in my life for a reason, He has placed these situations here for a reason. I’m not alone. I’m not homeless. I’ve never been alone, and I’ve always had a home. Maybe not in the conventional ways, but I’ve had a home. The knowledge that I’m not alone, the knowledge that I have an eternal home, the knowledge that I have an ever loving Father, the knowledge that my family in Christ is amazing makes me so unbelievably happy. Happy is an understatement.
God is amazing. God is good. God is loving. God is caring. God is forgiving. God is merciful. God is gracious. And He never leaves our side, even when we don’t feel His presence.