There have been a lot of places I have called home in my life. The first I remember is Baton Rouge Louisiana. We lived in a set of townhomes with the neighborhood pool right behind us. My days were filled with going to preschool, cruising the neighbor hood in my Bigfoot Power Wheel, swimming, and weekend crawfish boils. It was a lot of fun and left a big impression in my life!
We lived there until I was six at that point we moved to Franklin Tennessee, where I currently live now. That was the first big move of my life and it taught me about “home”. Everything around me had changed. We had a new house, school, routine, and life. One thing that was the same was that feeling of home.
That feeling came from family more than location. It was also a choice I had to make to accept the change and embrace the new experience as a good thing. I had to be willing to make new friends, learn new routines, and adjust to a new community. One constant was my family they were my grounding force that kept me stable.
Obviously as I have grown up my family and my location has changed a lot. Since being born I’ve lived in three states, each twice. Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee have all been home to me. Since my adolescence my family structure has changed. Mom, Dad, and Sister became Mom and Sister at the age of twelve. Mom and Sister became me on my own at the age of eighteen. Me on my own became husband and wife at the age of twenty-one. Husband and wife became parents at the age of twenty-seven. Each time life changed the basis of what defined home changed. The things that I looked forward to each morning and at the end of each day changed. In all of these changes the longing for the feeling of home has been constant.
Each time I relocated in my life it has been to a new city within a familiar state until recently. This most recent move brought me back to the one place that has always felt like home every time I would come back to visit. It’s the first time I’ve moved back to the exact same city I had lived in before. It’s the first time I’ve moved back to a place that was already filled with so many memories. It’s the first move that brought with it a familiarity of home outside of family.
A lot has changed in the twenty two years that have passed since I’ve lived in Franklin. I’ve changed, my family structure has changed, the city has changed, but the familiar feeling of home hasn’t. Walking through my favorite park, driving through town, and interacting with my community of new and familiar friends is like wrapping up in my favorite blanket on lazy Sunday afternoon after lunch. There is no place like home.
My affinity for Franklin in no way diminishes the love I have for every other place I’ve called home. West Monroe/ Baton Rouge Louisiana and Millbrook/ Alabaster/ Helena/ Prattville Alabama all still hold a special place in my heart. I’m a fan of the Crimson Tide, New Orleans Saints, and Nashville Predators. I like to eat catfish, crawfish, fried chicken, grits, and gravy (that stuff will kill you btw). I’m just as happy outdoors fishing and hunting as I am in the mix of the hustle and bustle of an active city. I have found familiarity everywhere I’ve lived. Franklin Tennessee though has always felt like home and there is no place like it.
Like cities lived in we all have stages of life that we exist in. Each one holding a different set of memories and feelings. There are things from each of those stages in our natural life that we are happy to leave behind or hope to avoid. There are stages that we cling to and often return to in our minds. The best are the familiar ones of home.
Philippians 4:11-13: ” 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Adapting to change is easier if you know how to be content. It’s important to know the difference between content, compliant and complacent. Contentment is having peace where you are. Compliance is just accepting the facts. Complacency is settling without care, without hope, and without concern for anything. The secret of being content referred to in verse 12 is found in verse 13 … Him. When my focus is on God I can be content knowing He is my all in all. Provision, help, comfort, purpose, and so on are all things each of us need. Each of those things become more obtainable and more lasting in God.
Apart from God I have felt unstable at times in life with family and location changes. With God as the number one focus of my life I have felt stable and at home no matter where life has taken me or how life has changed. God has been that constant that has kept me at peace. Isaiah 26:3 3 You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It is that peace that I really discovered at the age of fifteen that has strengthened my home and my feeling of home. Home is comfort, familiarity, and safety. Sadly many live their entire lives without ever really feeling at home anywhere.
Maybe you feel unstable right now, hopeless, and alone. You may not be able to change anything about your location or family dynamics. There is one change that you can make. There is one foundational constant that you can accept. Evaluate your relationship with God and take the steps necessary to either establish one or strengthen what you have. Find a church to attend because there is strength in community. Find a devotion to read because you will never learn enough just on Sundays. Get in a daily habit of talking and listening to God because He can teach you so much just through the Holy Spirit.
I now feel most at home in the presence of God. John 15:4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I always feel at home at any stage or place in life because I understand He is always with me. As much as I love all the places I’ve lived the presence of God is the strongest feeling of home for me. There is no place like home in Him.