My friend David Eck has written a great post about Homecoming, about accepting ourselves. He quotes the Eugene Peterson version of the Bible: "That’s plain enough, isn't it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all -- irrespective of how we got here -- in what he is building. [Ephesians 2:19, from Eugene Peterson's The Message]."
He talks about his own journey to self-acceptance and ends his post by saying, "What about you? Has anyone ever made you feel like an outsider? Unworthy of God's love? DON'T LISTEN TO THEM! They are wrong. The kingdom of faith is your 'home country.' Claim your turf and don't let any one try to serve you an eviction notice!"
I love this idea of the end of exile, the idea that the kingdom of faith can be our home country. I've spent my whole life feeling like an outsider, and often, I was proud of it. I didn't want to be part of the in crowd. If they had accepted me, I'd have wondered what I was doing wrong.
Of course, the joke could sometimes be on me. As I got older, and got to know some of the more popular kids in college, I realized that they had good qualities too.
And as I got older still, and talked to people in a deeper way, I realized that even popularity doesn't spare us from the horrors of life. Most people are nursing deep wounds of some kind at various points in our lives. Some of us recover, and some don't. Being pretty, popular, and/or rich doesn't mean you're exempt from the human condition. In his book The Lie That Tells a Truth, John Dufresne says, "But death is the central truth of our existence--the sadness at our core. Everything we love will vanish. We can't hold on to anything. It is this tragedy that accounts as well for the beauty and nobility of our lives because in the face of this knowledge, we go right on loving, trying to hold on to what we cherish, defying death with hubris and with faith" (page 61).
I've spent my whole life feeling like I really wasn't rooted to a place, and part of me longed to find a place that I loved enough to sink down roots. We've lived here 11 years, and I'm fairly rooted in my job, so maybe this will be the place--but by default.
What an interesting idea, that my kingdom of faith can be my hometown. I'm lucky these days. My church is one of the reasons why I wouldn't want to move. I know that the Bible passage talks about the larger kingdom of faith. But I'm feeling gratitude that my local kingdom of faith is so special and nourishing.