Home is where the heart is, so the saying goes. And that is true, though maybe not true enough. Because home is not just the place where your heart longs to be.

Home is where your heart is whole – wholly loved, wholly known.

I was having a particularly exhausting day, after an especially challenging week, when I drove myself home in a desensitized stupor. You know the kind – when your brain is so fuzzy you barely notice where you are going or how you are getting there? I got out of the car and trudged to the front door, carrying more than I could because #momsarepackmules. As I carried my briefcase and old coffee cups and mail and left-behind toys across the lawn to the front door, I was walking through a fog. I was just a shell of a person, dispassionately going through the motions of a day passing me by.

Until. Until that moment I opened the door, and saw the most glorious sight:

My 5 year old, squealing, “mama, mama, look what I made today!”

My 2 year old, doing a jig and singing, “mommy’s home! mommy’s home!”

Our almost-house-trained beagle, wagging his tail so hard he’s about to knock the children over, jumping up to lick me in greeting, while I’m praying he doesn’t empty his bladder all over my nice pants.

And there, standing in the background, was my husband, grinning at the beauty of the moment, and his smile told me he was thinking exactly what I was thinking: Home is holy chaos. That’s what makes it so breathtaking.

Immediately I was pulled into a kitchen dance party where my eldest told Alexa to play “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” because she loves seeing mommy and daddy slow dance to our song. And that’s when the fog shrouding my heart melted away at last. My husband pulled me close and the kids twirled around us, and I realized that I had less than nothing to offer my family when I trudged through the door, but they threw their arms around my neck and gave me all the love in the world. It brought me back to life. Home is where your heart is made whole.

It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the prodigal son. He trudged home, full of guilt and shame, knowing he failed, knowing he disappointed his father, rehearsing his confession over and over, until he was nothing but a shell of the person he once was. He was walking through the most dismal fog you can imagine. And as he rounded the bend that led to his father’s house, he saw his father running to him, crying with joy that his son was home. And indeed he was. This homecoming reminded him that he was again at the place where he could be whole. Wholly loved. Wholly known. The son had nothing to offer his father, and still his father gave him all the love in the world. It brought him back to life.

For some, home is a circle of friends. For others, it’s a church community. For others, it’s grandparents or cousins or siblings. For others still, home is an online community that they’ve never met in person.

Home can be found in many places, but there’s a common thread that weaves through them all.  Home is never perfect.  It is often quite quirky. Sometimes it is stressful. And try as we may to make our home magazine-worthy, under the facade home is never neat and tidy.  There’s no denying it – home is chaos.

But home is holy chaos. In all its messiness, home is the blessed space where we are loved into wholeness.  Home is the space where we learn our inherent worth as people intentionally created by a loving God.  

That’s the kind of home I want to offer to my kids.  That’s the kind of home I want to work for in the other communities I take part in.  That’s the kind of home my own soul desperately needs.

The truth is, lest you think my life is a fairy tale, my daily homecoming is not usually so spectacular as the one described above. I’m often greeted by whining kids and overflowing laundry baskets, floors that need to be swept and dinner that needs to be cooked.  And anyone who knows me knows that few things irritate me more than whining and chaos.

So I am learning. I am learning to see the beauty in the holy chaos of home, as I did in that memorable homecoming. I am learning that, in its mysterious way, the holy chaos reveals an ancient wisdom too easily forgot: Life is not perfect, and neither are we.  For all our imperfections and chaos and quirks, we are worthy of love, worthy of belonging, and worthy of a homecoming that brings us back to life.


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