A month ago my husband and I sat next to each other at a lawyer’s office to face a mountain of paperwork. We were buying our first home and felt like two kids wearing our parents’ clothes, fishing our hands out of sleeves that seemed too long to sign our lives away for the next thirty years.
This is the closest we have come to saying vows and making promises since our wedding day. Visions of the future danced behind our eyes. Would our future children know this house? Would their little feet lightly patter its floors? We imagined family gatherings, Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays, house parties. What would our family table be like?
My husband and I both changed addresses many times as kids. I grew up a military kid of divorced parents and he grew up a pastor’s son. The calling to serve sent our parents packing and unpacking several times in our childhood. I cried over friendships lost, over school years that must be interrupted to face a new city.
I attended eight different schools between kindergarten and senior year of high school. I spent most years dividing my time between summers with my dad, stepmother, sister and two brothers in one state, and the school year with my mom and sister in another. I’ve lived at seventeen different addresses in my life. I’m prepared to pack luggage for any length of trip. I have mastered the art of travel size.
I learned how to make friends anywhere and how to find something in common with almost anyone I meet. I lived on the west coast, in the south, the Midwest and Texas. I took my first flight at 4 years old and I’m so comfortable flying that my white noise of choice mimics the sound of an airplane cabin.
I’ve never fantasized about living in Brazil. I never dreamed of Paris, London, Milan, Cairo, or Johannesburg. I fantasized about home. I always had a twinge of jealousy for my friends whose parents lived in the same house all the years they grew up, whose parents still have the same phone number, same candy dishes full of peppermints, same old wallpaper and family photos.
Which is why the idea of having a permanent address with our names on the title and deed is cause for pause and reflection. As my husband and I have unpacked our life and left the boxes on the curb for the weekly trash run, as we’ve learned how to newly navigate a city we have both called home for years from our new address, and stare at blank walls and rooms that are now canvas to us, I know a new calling.
I don’t begrudge my childhood. I am thankful for the experience of having lived in different places, sat at different tables, learned to make friends no matter what our class, culture or skin color. This seemingly vagabond life prepared me for what I’m doing today: traveling, speaking, listening, performing, meeting new people from all walks of life and beliefs.
We have walked alongside many of our friends as faith and calling has led them to cross seas, sell possessions, uproot comfortability, serve in areas that are underserved, and immerse themselves in a culture very different from their own. As we have unpacked and settled in, the house has brought us new focus. We realized we are beginning a new adventure.
God is calling us to an adventure in staying, a journey of finding and keeping home. As traveling artists, my husband and I will find ourselves in many hotel rooms, churches, venues, and tour buses, so we’ve learned to make home wherever we are. But God has also given two people who are well acquainted with boxes, moving trucks and luggage, a place to unpack, breathe, rest, get to know our neighbors, serve our city and be a part of the art, creativity and community that is being built here.
I don’t long for a far away adventure, although if one comes along I’m happy to pack a bag and embrace the journey. I’m learning there are many times in life that God will call us to leave. But there are also times God will call us to stay. The lesson isn’t just in the staying or the leaving. The lesson is in continuing to follow the God who calls, whether it means we pack what little we have in a bag for a new address, or whether it means we unpack our life, put things in their respective drawers and cabinets, and make ourselves at home.