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We’re getting closer to the release of A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging!
As we lead up to the launch, it’s been so much fun to host various guest bloggers here at Heading Home in a series on home, eternity, longing, and belonging.
I love this week’s post from Heidi Wheeler. I met Heidi in person at a Redbud Writers’ Guild gathering at the 2016 Festival of Faith & Writing. When I told her what my upcoming book was about, she shared snippets of her story, and I knew she could relate.
Enjoy this glimpse into Heidi’s story and the lessons she’s gleaned along the way . . .
Like the Israelites, I’ve spent much of my life wandering. Unlike the disobedient people group, however, it wasn’t a pre-promiseland generational cleanse forcing a life in motion.
Migrating with my family of origin, following personal dreams, and supporting a man I love has given me addresses throughout the country—ones I now frequently jumble when labeling envelopes or dictating my location to someone. I occasionally must stop and answer, Where am I now?, pausing to reorient to the current place.
This instability has been like a twisty cone of chocolate and vanilla ice cream; the blessings and losses intermingling with distinct flavors but an overarching sweetness. A life fraught with boxes and moves has proved that change is an adventure and that I’m able to bloom where I’m planted (even when the soil is concrete).
Living in a variety of communities and cultures has garnered perspective and resilience—and has shown that thriving isn’t about ideal situations, but curiously observing how I might be transformed through any circumstance.
On the other hand, I’m unfamiliar with the comfort of being raised in a single childhood home with friends I’ve known forever. Always the transient, I now lack the desire for deep rootedness to a place; finding it easy to pick up and leave when I’m bored or a new adventure awaits.
Staring into rearview mirrors as I left previous homes for new ones, I’d observe cities or mountain landscapes shrinking in stature—right along with my security. Certainty to uncertainty. Known to unknown. Routine to chaos. Community to loneliness. It was in the wilderness of transition that I, like my geography, found myself changing.
I’d not have chosen to live in a 4th floor walk up apartment two blocks from former project buildings on the south side of Chicago. But it was being the only Caucasian on my bus line that gave me a sense of not belonging, an important feeling that would later fan the flame of fighting racial injustice.
I couldn’t have predicted that living among a pocket of highly traditional Midwestern evangelicals would begin the search for a God bigger than the one I saw in their Christian cultural norms. It was also the uncomfortability of that place that became the impetus for an ongoing examination of biblical passages tied to women’s roles in the church.
I wouldn’t have seen myself settling in a homogeneous suburb north of Milwaukee to raise my kids, but from the moment we arrived I’ve observed God’s providence and confirmation that, yes, this is where I’m supposed to be. It is in this place I see how all the other places culminated in an invitation to stay a while—to bring here what other communities have taught me, to learn rootedness, and to find joy in the mundane.
When I look back, I understand. I can testify to God’s careful maneuvering of our places to advance His kingdom. Our stories make sense in light of His Greatest Story.
Finding our place in God’s story orients us.
Finding our place in God’s story molds us.
Finding our place in God’s story gives us a home.
Home in the deepest sense can’t be found apart from Christ. In Hosea 11:11 God promises, “I will settle them in their own homes.” Whether this is the promise of a heavenly home, or a home on earth in His Church, He knows we need a place to dwell. No matter the geography, the culture, the structure, or the community, home is wherever He is working and wants us to be a part of that story.
For the wandering Israelites, home was in the clouds and fire.
For me, it’s been in more places than I can count.
Heidi Wheeler writes to encourage, empower, and help others find healing. Her work can be found at CT Women, inCourage, and The Mudroom among others.
She’s a wife, mother of four, nurse practitioner, and member of the Redbud Writers Guild.
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