If home is where the heart is, I didn’t think I’d be home for Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong; I planned to celebrate Christmas in the place where I now live. It’s just that despite five years of marriage; I don’t yet feel at home there.
It’s a wonderful place, and Joe is a wonderful guy. And it’s not like I came from paradise or gave up endless riches to marry him. It’s just that…the place we live still doesn’t feel like home.
I have a great job here. I do the same sorts of things, in the same sort of place. So why do I long for the other place? We live in a nice apartment; why do I still blink in amazement whenever I enter it, and think: “What am I doing here?”
The most difficult thing for me is our church. I attend the church my husband has attended since he was a kid, and everyone’s been so welcoming. The messages are uplifting and scriptural, and Pastor Jim is a wonderful man of God. So, why do I sit there and wish I were hearing the same words from Pastor Dan?
At first, I thought I’d get over it. But five years is a long time to still be “getting over it”. The place I moved from is only a state away, but it may as well be a continent, in my heart. I’ve kept in touch with my friends, but it’s not the same. And I’d never gotten the chance for a visit.
I’ve told myself that I need to be like the Biblical Ruth: “whither thou goest…” but it didn’t work. And it does no good to remind myself of the vows I took when I married Joe. I haven’t had any problem with “love, honor and obey,” but if “forsaking all others” means leaving home behind, I haven’t even come close.
This Christmas, if I still believed in such things, I would have wished for some cosmic Wizard of Oz to tell me to click my heels and head for home. I know it’s not fair. Joe’s so loving and supportive. He even tells me it’s OK to miss my old home so much. Any other guy would probably say, “get over it!”
This season, as the music on the radio changed from standards to carols, and as the houses on our lane turned on their red and green lights, all I could think was, “Why am I here?” Joe or no Joe; the only thing I wanted was to run as fast as I could toward my true home.
Even so, I was amazed when Joe handed me a plain white envelope, and looked on tearfully as I unwrapped it. I looked up at him in wonder as I saw it held a round-trip bus ticket to my hometown.
“Why, Joe?” Didn’t he know I was afraid, if I visited; I might not want to come back?
”Oh, honey, I love you. I’ve seen how unhappy you’ve been and I want you to do what makes you happy.”
”Oh, Joe, I do love you. And, you do make me happy.”
”I know, sweetheart. But I can see you still long for home. I love you enough to let you go back, if that’s what you want. And, everyone should be home, for Christmas. So, I’ve talked to your supervisor and arranged for a week off. I’ve checked online and the place you used to work is hiring. Your sister says you can stay with her until you find a place to live.”
Home! I could go home, for Christmas!
I shook myself awake; the dream had seemed so real! I looked down at my hands and – of course, there was no envelope; no ticket home. I’d be spending Christmas here, in a place that still felt like an alien outpost.
And yet, I knew that the love I’d dreamed of was a gift I already possessed. Joe may not have given me a ticket back to my hometown, but he’d helped me to create a home here. I can’t pretend it’s the same as the home I left, but had I ever truly said goodbye to that other place, in my heart? If I asked, I knew God could change my heart and help me find a home, here.
If home is where the heart is, this year I’ll be home – with Joe - for Christmas.
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