Having lived in three different continents in the past seven years, I never really knew where home-home was. I’ve been asked to compare between which of the three countries I would consider living in for the rest of my life—and it never was an easy answer. Each of the places I’d lived in had their own share of sweetness and hurts, and it was never a clear-cut answer for me.
Yet one thing for sure, that I have firmly known—is that the Lord had been kind to have led me to these places, in those particular times of my life. Even today, as I boarded the plane, though the sadness still lingered—it was with a resolute certainty that I knew that this was the season I was to step into.
on the outside looking in
Reflecting upon the beginning of my journey, however, when I had first moved to LA, I never imagined that I would really consider this place to be home. Adjusting had been difficult, especially because I entered the community as one of the older ones—everyone at my age had their own circles they were running in, their own share of inside jokes, their own shared memories. Though everyone had been so welcoming from the start, it was in my nature that I was more reserved and timid whenever I was placed in a new environment, that I constantly felt as an outsider.
beyond the fences: breaking barriers of culture and age
Looking back in hindsight, however, I am overwhelmed at seeing how these differences had instead been minuscule, and how they were what had made relationships so interesting. In the course of my two and a half years there, my walls had slowly been broken down, that I have learnt to love the people I had been gifted with. It is to my surprise that whom had ended up being in my closest circle were people who were so different than me, but whom I truly hold dear in my heart.
Nonetheless, the process of it all had not been an easy one. There had been many moments of hard heart-work done, as I wrestled in praying, “Lord, help me to love.” Times when I would be so calloused and stubborn, unwilling to give my heart away (for love surely is a terrifying thing), yet where the Lord would have to deal with me.
Yet His dealings had been kind. In those moments, what I would constantly be drawn to ponder upon had been the incarnation of Christ—God made flesh, that we would know what love is, and in turn love Him. In love, God had laid aside the biggest difference between God and man (it does not get any more different than that) and in taking on the form of man, He had brought us to Himself.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
His kindness had brought me to repentance—to repent from a heart so unwilling to love, a heart that only seeks comfortable and easy fondness. It is in contemplating Christ, that I had learnt to love those different than myself. Not because it had been a chore, or a set of do’s, but because He had first reconciled me to Himself. The Son of God, in whom all majesty dwells, laid it all down to be born in a manger, that He may die on behalf of those who had rebelled against Him. Sacrificial love at the cross had begun with sacrificial humility at the incarnation.
“…in taking on the form of man, He had brought us to Himself…Sacrificial love at the cross had begun with sacrificial humility at the incarnation.“
seeking constance: coming Home
And now as I finally embark on my journey home to my own nuclear family, I am torn that I have to leave my LA family behind. It is not the coffee or ice cream spots that I would miss, and not even the freedom of my own independence as I lived alone, but to be able to do life with the people as I have done throughout my college years—being able to go on random day trips and have people over studying until 2 A.M., and random bursts of worship jam sessions.
Life will be different in Indonesia—I am well aware of that. And the only thing that has kept me trudging forward is the peace by which I had been given in knowing that my time had come. The Lord had been kind to allow me to see many things that He had been doing in the lives of the people I love in LA, and I know that He who began a good work in me, and in them, will continue to do so even as we part ways.
As I return home to Indonesia, knowing that this will be my permanent place of residence for the long haul, there is a certain relief that dawned on me. My life had been filled with so much uncertainty and major seasons of change—that I do find solace in knowing that this would be my permanent home for a while.
Yet to, in these years, been privileged to live as a “foreigner in the strange lands” of Australia and America, I am grateful that the Lord had conditioned my heart to know where my Home truly is. To know that there will be a time that I would depart to a final, Permanent Home, as I return to my Lord, I know that this next season of “permanence” will be a foretaste of my Coming Home.
My prayer is that I might not find comfort in such permanence without contemplating on the Perfect Permanence of Heaven. That I might not find the comfort of returning home to my nuclear family without contemplating upon Him having adopted me into His family. And that as long as I am still here on earth, may my heart never long for anything more than to be with my Lord, and in turn learning to live in the tension of knowing that He is not done with me yet.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” (Philippians 1:21-24).