It’s my pleasure to welcome author Gina Butz to the blog today in celebration of the release of her book, Making Peace with Change: Navigating Life’s Messy Transitions with Honesty and Grace (affiliate links used in this post).
I’ve known Gina as a member of the Five Minute Friday Writing Community, and we had the opportunity to meet in person at a writing conference when she was in the process of getting a book contract.
Gina and I share the same publisher, so it’s especially exciting for me to see her words in print:
C.S. Lewis once said, “One who has journeyed in a strange land cannot return unchanged.”
When my husband and I boarded a plane for Asia over 20 years ago, I had no idea how our time overseas would affect me, particularly my sense of home.
In our first apartment there, I decorated in the muted Americana colors typical of the late 90’s, complete with a sponge painted wall that our local maid found hideous (honestly, she was probably right). Back here in the U.S., my house is full of furniture and paintings that remind me of our 13 years of expat living.
While I was there, I missed this home. Now that we’re here, I realize that part of my heart still lives there. While we’re back in our “home” country, I still feel like a displaced person sometimes.
Growing up, I always thought I would live my life in the same town, enjoying proximity to lifelong friends and family.
Instead, since age 16, I’ve lived in 15 homes in 6 cities and 3 countries. As our lives have taken us here, there, and everywhere, I carry with me an ache for home.
There’s something in us that feels hardwired for permanence. Like plants, we want rich soil where we can sink our roots deep and thrive. We want home – the people and places who hold our history, places where our souls can relax and breathe. We want to feel that even if the world around us is chaotic, we have a solid place to land.
Sometimes I mourn the fact that my little plant of a life hasn’t had much time to take root anywhere. Our current home is the longest we’ve lived anywhere, and it’s only been seven years.
But on the other hand, I’ve had the blessing of growing in so many places. I feel a sense of home in all of them. Each time I’m in a place that feels like home, I am grateful.
I am grateful for what this ache for home reminds me: that this was never actually meant to be my home. When we find it here, when we find places where we can be ourselves, be fully known and embraced, where we can sink down and feel secure, they are only a whisper of what we were meant for.
We were meant to find our home in God, but that’s easier said than done. As Henri Nouwen says, “To make my home where God has made his, this is the great spiritual challenge.”
The world tells us to cling to what we find here, to try to find life in the temporal. But to quote C.S. Lewis again, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
We were made not just for heaven but to find our home in Christ, right here in the middle of all the temporal. As we have transitioned from one place to another, coming back to the constancy of my relationship with God and the solid place that He provides for me has been a balm. When I’m tempted to feel like an orphan, searching for roots, I can come back to the truth that I am His beloved adopted child, and my forever home is with Him. He is my rock no matter where I am or who I’m with.
When my heart aches for the places I have called home, I want to let it remind me to seek my heart’s true home in God. I want it to remind me that we are called to be strangers and aliens here – loving and blessing the places and people God gives us, but knowing that we are just passing through. Our ache for home is an ache for Him.
Gina Butz and her husband, Erik, have served in full time ministry for 25 years, 13 of them in East Asia. They are currently raising their two third-culture kids and an imported dog in Orlando, Florida, where Gina serves in global leadership development at Cru headquarters.
Her first book, Making Peace with Change: Navigating Life’s Messy Transitions with Honesty and Grace, releases February 4th, 2020. She blogs at www.ginabutz.com and loves to connect on Twitter and Facebook.