"I have come that they might have life and have it to the full..." -John 10:10b

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Finding Home: A Personal Journey, the final part

Driving around Central Florida absolutely gave me the warm fuzzies. I was feeling connected in a way that I never had and I also experienced a sense of being on my "turf" for the first time. I was happy to be there with my mom and little sis, happy to introduce this place to my girl's, happy that I'd made the journey.

Mother and Daughter

Jess and I 3

Jess and I

Then, Saturday night came around. And I got nervous. My mom still goes to the same church we went to as a family when I was growing up. Covenant Presbyterian. I have warm fuzzies about going there, absolutely I do. But I also had some hesitancies about returning. I could go into fine detail about the whole ordeal, but that's a book in and of it itself, so I'll just say this:

I lost my identity at 18 years old. I was forced to realize at 18 that I had been building my life around the wrong thing, the wrong idea, the wrong person. It was a hard realization to come to and I kind of went into a reclusive phase that has lasted almost 10 years. Not reclusive to the point where I cut out everyone, mind you, but reclusive enough to cut out people whom I didn't quite know what to do with anymore. People who reminded me of my old identity. I scrambled to find meaning, scrambled to find a new direction, hunted for peace and a place to hide from everything and everyone that reminded me of what I'd lost.

I went to Arkansas. It was a wonderful year for me. I learned spiritual disciplines from my Momma Gloria that I still carry with me today. I had big sisters and good friends there. I had a church that I LOVED and I enjoyed my life there. It was an escape. I didn't appreciate it then at 19 years old as much as I should have.

I tried to come back to Florida after my year in Arkansas but I felt restless there. Too many reminders of my old life, too many obstacles, too many things to make my insides twist up inside of me.

So I joined the military. This confused a lot of people. It even made some people angry. Important people in my life, were baffled by this decision. But I couldn't be there. I couldn't stay. I was still scrambling to find my path.

Well 10 years later, here I am, on my path. I am confident in my calling. Confident in what my life is founded on, confident in my God and His plans for me wherever I am. I'm a happy person wrought with sin and insecurity but confident in my Creator.

Getting back to the original story...I was nervous to go to church because I knew that I had pretty much cut all of my high school friends out of my life. Not in an act of malice, but in a desperate attempt to heal. Most of them have moved away from Florida and since gotten married and started families but there was still a deep nervousness inside of me.

As I walked up the sidewalk toward the Fellowship Hall, I was flooded with memories from my teenage years. So many happy memories for me took place right there on that sidewalk, and so many hurtful ones too. I shook them out of my head and pushed open the left door in the set of double doors bracing myself for the looks, the questions, the complacent nods and smiles.

I got none.

I got hugs, and laughter and hearty, heart-felt greetings and well wishes. I was welcomed there. I could relax. And I did.

I'm so glad I did too, because I was able to reconnect with Michelle, a friend who was on the basketball team with me in high school. She's now married with 4 children and she and I were able to spend some time together later that week in her home. I enjoyed her immensely and left her house feeling like I had a friend in Florida. A real, genuine, bonafide friend to come see whenever I'm in town. I hadn't had that in a long time, or so I thought. Hopefully, this will the start of really reconnecting with many of my old friends.

And that was the experience that sealed the deal for me! I came to the understanding that my family isn't my only connection to Florida. It's my memories, my experiences, my friendships, AND my family that connect me to that place.

Mom and I 4

Moral of the final part of this story: Home is where your friends and family are.

Mom and Jess

Of course, being a wife and mother, my HOME for all intents and purposes is where my husband and children are. It's where I'm called to be now and grow now and train my children.

But my hometown? I'm glad to say, is Palm Bay, FL.


I'm from Palm Bay, FL! That's where I'm FROM. It's my HOME town!

My Girls and I 2

2 comments on "Finding Home: A Personal Journey, the final part"

David Reed on March 16, 2010 at 5:56 AM said...

Great set of posts. I am really happy that you found your beginning.

Erin on March 16, 2010 at 9:45 AM said...

Another beautifully written story! What a journey this trip was!

And again, these photographs are stunning. You're so beautiful! That 2nd photo, seriously, whoa. Your guys' eyes are incredible in it. And I LOVE the last pic of you and your girls.