Home is where the heart is. At least, that’s the way the saying goes. Maybe it’s the Christmas season that making me nostalgic, but this is a popular slogan I want to be biblical. But is it?
As a woman in modern America, I claim a lot of labels. I’m a wife, mother, laundress, cook and cleaner, shopper, knowledge keeper of everyone’s stuff, appointment maker, and so on. Years ago, I worked outside our home as an office assistant, bookkeeper, office manager, customer service representative, and insurance agent.
As a writer, I’m a researcher, editor, marketer, social media expert, and reader. I blog, guest post, and occasionally offer articles to magazines. I could keep going but you get the idea.
It makes me sound pretty capable. But several years ago when my husband started with his health problems, doubts flooded me. In the midst of everything, I began to consider what I would do if the worst happened. Where was home?
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Where the Heart Is
Look back and thank God. Look forward and trust God. ~Anonymous
Truthfully, as independent as I am—as I’ve been forced to be during deployments, trainings, and work cycles—I depend on my husband quite a lot.
It’s not that I can’t do things. Thanks to the Internet, most of what I need to know is available. But that’s not what I’m talking about. No, instead of the practical, I’m referring more to the intangible, where the heart is. Those qualities we can name if we put some thought to it but can’t adequately describe.
Among other things, for example, my husband is my steadying force. Throughout our marriage, we’ve walked through a lot of change. Duty stations and the cultures around them, job shifts from civilian to active duty Air Force to medical retirement to government service with the Army to government service with the Marines (and back to the Army again).
Somewhere along the way, my heart decided that the house we lived in was not home to me. After all, our address changed too much. Instead, my heart secured itself within my husband and my children.
Life settles when he’s around
Talking about a friend who went through a year-long deployment, military wife Kristen Strong says, “There is a settling—a long exhale—when doting dad and loving husband is at home rather than away. Because [dad] helps his loved ones grow well and thrive, his presence in their family is felt and needed. Regardless of their address on the mailbox, wherever the four of them are together is home” (Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You through Life’s Transitions, page 189).
It’s not that my husband is perfect. But he’s mine—he’s ours—and we all know that he loves us. Mrs. Strong continues writing about her own family: “My own favorite four people are home to me because home is never a where but a who. It’s about my people, the ones I can settle in with and therefore thrive with” (page 190). My heart echoes her words.
But, I slam into this: If my husband is my home, what happens when he is not with me?
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A Queen of a Woman
Esther has always been my favorite book of the Bible. Because of what happens in the first chapter, the King looks for a new queen. All the beautiful maidens are rounded up.
Many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. (Esther 2:8-9).
Likely taken against her choosing, Esther was thrown into circumstances outside her comfort zone with no chance of ever returning to her former life. We don’t know who she lost beside Mordecai, perhaps a woman that taught her to cook or a family who considered her for their son. She is required to adapt, regardless of her feelings.
And before we get lost in the daydreams of a staff seeing to our every need, let’s consider that Esther was a prisoner. She could not do what she wanted, go where she wanted, or spend time with who she wanted.
Beauty treatments and other choices
Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics (verse 12).
What if Esther didn’t like the smell of myrrh? Or what if she hated cosmetics? Too bad. A life that included Esther making her own choices no longer existed.
But here’s what amazes me: She accepts it with grace. Hundreds of readings, yet I never found a single temper tantrum by Esther. She wasn’t perfect, but she had her attitude so well in check that she pleased the head attendant, and he immediately gave her special treatment. In fact, verse 15 tells us that Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.
Can you imagine?
From Genesis through Revelation, the Bible points toward a love story starring everyday people like you and me and a Savior who loved us enough to die for us. ~Kristen Strong, Girl Meets Change
Esther showcases that the answer to my problem is finding home in the right Person—God.
Many Christians say God is omnipresent. They point to passages like Psalm 139:7-12 and Jeremiah 23:24, thoughtlessly tossing out cliches that God is everywhere. They are right, He is! But don’t just nod your head in agreement. Think about it!
God being everywhere means that every moment of our lives we can choose to spend time with Him. His omnipresence makes Him uniquely qualified to be our home. To be that settling influence over every piece of our heart and life.
Can you imagine that?
Learning that God’s plan doesn’t look like ours is very hard! My book More Than Meets the Eye is based on the true story of one military spouse coming to grips with this truth.
After her husband returns from a deployment to Saudi Arabia, Lori Braxton begins noticing little differences in his behavior. He’s withdrawn, moody, and can’t sleep. Could it be the stress of military life after the 9/11 attack on New York? Maybe it’s the new assignment in Montana or the financial problems he ignores. Perhaps it’s forces she can’t see and doesn’t know how to fight, or maybe she’s a bigger part of the problem than she wants to admit.
What is God doing? Is He even paying attention?
Lori tries to attend church and do what God asks, but the truth is she doesn’t really hear Him speak. Between money strains, pregnancy hormones, and young ones underfoot, Lori spirals into depression.
What good could God possibly bring from the mess surrounding her?