I Am Home; This Is Where I Belong

I borrowed my mom’s car the other day and, because I don’t like messing with the radio, listened to the Christian radio station on my errands. I don’t mind the upbeat music normally and this trip was no different.

Until the song Where I Belong by Building 429 came on. As I listened to the lyrics, I became sadder and sadder. This is how they view our precious life on this earth?!

The chorus goes:

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

When Bea is mad, she often yells, Fine!! I don’t want to live here anymore!!!! Usually at this stage in our interaction, I’m more than ready to help her find an alternative living situation. In reality, I tell her that we love her and that her home is here, with us. No matter how frustrating life feels.

There seems to be a lot of fear these days – fear of others taking things from us: our jobs, our guns, our religion. We want protection.

In this fight or flight mentality of fear, it’s easy to want to run away. Since Canada isn’t really an option, heaven seems as good a choice as any.

Life is hard. I don’t want to engage. This isn’t my home anyway – I’m just waiting for heaven!

I want to sit down with Building 426 and ask for more. Surely they aren’t really asking us to disconnect.

I do believe we’re home. This earth was created for us and as long as we humans view it only as a pit stop, we’ll treat it as such: A means to an end. Rather than an incredible place for us to live and thrive, we’re treating this amazing creation as no more than a concrete picnic bench on a long highway.

I do believe this is where we belong. I believe that when we recognize our place in creation, it’s hard to ignore injustice or truly believe that we aren’t meant to care right now, in this time and place.

When the lyrics say Take this world and give me Jesus, who are we giving the world to? Take it from whom? I believe God gave us this world – how we care for it and cultivate it and respect it is a reflection of our values. I don’t think Jesus wants us to give this world “back.” I think he came to redeem and restore this earth.

It makes me sad to think of people listening and humming along to this catchy song. Perhaps they aren’t picking it apart now, but the next time a politician doesn’t reflect their own worldview or a news story laments the systemic injustices in our world and country, a go-to response is that we don’t really belong here anyway. Why care too much?

I think we need to care more! I think we really need to look at the commandments that Jesus gave – to love our neighbor; to live in an upside-down mentality where the poor are the greatest and the last are first; to recognize that kingdom living isn’t measured by the normal standards of health and wealth but by a completely different set of standards, where people care for strangers and outcasts.

As Christians, rather than seeing the brokenness of the world and, like a preschooler yelling, Fine! I don’t want to live here anymore! perhaps we need to actually consider what it means to walk like Jesus, to live a life of justice and mercy and kindness. To be an active part of redemption and restoration rather than hoping that God somehow magically takes care of things or gives the world back, as if there’s a benevolent return policy on faulty civilizations.

Especially during this election season, my hope and prayer is that we remember that our home is here. We are not passive players, nor are we called to outsource our beliefs to government leaders. It is our job to live out the kingdom, to recognize our own part in changing this world.

What’s your view of heaven? Do you think it’s a place we go after death or is it a restoration of this current earth? Does this shape the way you interact with this earth?

If you’re wondering about the place of heaven, I’d recommend N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope, followed closely by C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra.

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Resting Before Restoration

During our early days of marriage, Frank and I had to have quite a few discussions about Napping Expectations. Frank is a power napper – 20 minutes and he’s refreshed. He also is not good at hanging out, so once he’s awake, he’s awake. He gets fidgety and restless and is an unpleasant bedfellow. I love naps. (I always envisioned myself as a sea otter in another life – lounging, napping, grooming, eating clams…) I love days that allow for naps – it means nothing is planned but rest. Before kids, if I woke up too early on a weekend or before I felt a nap should end, I would grab my bedside book and read for a while. Resting, but not napping. (I don’t even have a bedside book at the moment. So sad!)

Bea takes after Frank: She greets the morning with an It’s a beautiful day!!! at the highest volume imaginable for early morning. We had to get her an alarm clock to keep her in her room until 6:40. Elle is more like me: She’s slow to wake up and will spend some quality time stretching and snuggling in before greeting the day.

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Frank & Bea (when she was Elle’s age)

In many ways, we approach life in the same way we nap. Frank spends his day multi-tasking and running from meeting to phone call to meeting. It’s not ideal, but he functions pretty well in that fast-paced environment. I am not a good multi-tasker. Even when I was teaching, I’d focus on a project until it was finished, or at least at a logical stopping point. I rarely worked during lunch, making sure to give myself time to rest. As a mom, I try to structure our days similarly: Morning activity, lunch at home, quiet afternoon. It doesn’t always go as planned, but I’ve noticed we work better as a family (or at least, I work better as a mom) with this structure.

In Surprised by Hope, NT Wright talks about heaven (or the new earth) being a place where we do what is most life-giving to us. We work, but we work at what we are passionate about. Before this new earth, though, is a time for rest. I love this idea of resting before restoration. That we need time to recover, refocus, and rest before we can participate in Kingdom building again.

It makes me think that we were created to intentionally rest – and beyond Sabbath rest of one day per week. I also have to remember that we all rest differently. For me, rest means no activity. But for Frank, rest often looks like a hike. Sometimes it’s easy to think, I’m burned out – I just need to stop. And, perhaps I do. But, sometimes rest is a change of scenery, a time to refresh and see new perspectives.

When I was teaching, I would be sure to attend an outside professional development conference each semester. Being off-site with new ideas refreshed my teaching. Similarly, I’ve needed that “off-site” learning as a mom. One year, I went to a conference geared toward moms of preschoolers. Another year, I went to Women in the Mix, all about finding a mix of work-life thriving. Last year, I attended Denver’s Faith and Justice Conference. This year, it was Writers on the Rock. Each experience was different but I came home refreshed, renewed, and reminded that life beyond motherhood exists. I needed that time to learn, to grow, to refresh.

I’m learning that rest is sometimes active. Even though I think of rest as napping or doing nothing, I’ve come home just as refreshed from a day of learning and actively pushing outside of my comfort zone. I couldn’t attend conferences all the time (once a year is plenty!) but I am reminded that a day of rest can look like a day of activity.

Whatever it is – from a hike to a conference to taking time to read, uninterrupted – I’m finding that without rest, I cannot play a role in restoration. So, I’m learning to stop, to listen, and to be aware of the active ways I can find rest.

How do you best renew? Do you need solitude or learning or people? Or a bit of a mix?