When Going Home is Hard to Do

“The Prodigal Son”

The phrase carries instant meaning in society.  The son returns to the family after a time away.  It is used to mean anyone returning home physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Yesterday, in church, we talked about the story in Luke 15.

For those unfamiliar, the younger son of a family asks for his inheritance so he can go on and live his life.  He takes off, disowning his father, and spurns his money on worldly pursuits. When he finally hits poverty, he goes home and is accepted by his father with open arms.  He’s given a robe, sandals, a signet ring and acceptance.

The message is an allegory of grace and faith, the idea that all are welcome home even if they’d strayed from their foundation.

What if going home isn’t that easy?


Our souls long for a place of permanence. We’ve taken the concept of home and weighted it with meaning, looking down on the homeless, the outcast and refugee. We circle our wagons and protect our homes.

When the economy collapsed in 2008, many homes were lost to debt and disarray.

Growing up I always loved my home.  Val’s family moved many times over the years to different homes. We often talk about our boys growing up here.  Do we want them to stay in this school district? This neighborhood?

Carter told us, the other night, that he’ll miss this place when the time comes to move.  Part of me, that little kid such a homebody, feels bad for him.

For some of us, home was hell.

Nights were nightmares. Days were long, hot, physically and emotionally difficult.  At the first chance to run, we took it and never looked back.  If you are one of those people, how do you read the prodigal son? I mean, who cares if you can go home again when it was the lowest point in your life?

I think there’s another side of the story.

Going home is about finding yourself. When we experience trauma, we set up bottom lines as motivation. Poverty can give us drive and hustle to never live that way again. The shadows of abuse can make us better parents and spouses. The harm of betrayal keeps us honest and true.

Going home is about stepping into a calling that existed from the moment you were conceived.   It is about facing down the ghosts of the past and understanding they are not you and you are not them. It is about acceptance by a Creator with open arms and endless grace.

If going home this week is too hard, step back and take a moment. See where you are and not where you were. Be thankful for the strength and life you have and know what is waiting.  You can, and you will, make it through.


Coming Home

On Wednesday afternoon I was finishing up a research interview for my current book project with Bryan Koch, head pastor of Glad Tidings church in Wyomissing.  Val and I have attended there for six years now and, after attempting to set up interviews at multiple area churches, Glad Tidings was the first, and only, one to reply.

Koch has guided the church for more than twenty-five years, from a single building and small numbers to a complex with multiple services and thousands of members. His passion is action, movement in the community to truly make a difference.  As we wrapped up our conversation, he said,

“If there is anything we can do as your home church to support you, let me know.”

I drove home thinking if I had ever, in thirty-two years, had a church leader tell me something similar.  The idea of having a home church settled in my head and on my spirit.


Photo Credit: hlkljgk via Compfight cc

The concept of “home” is a weighted term. There are plenty of people with negative experiences settled around the idea, people who left as soon as they could and never looked back.

Home, for some, symbolized conflict, poverty, abuse, anxiety, instability, and the knowledge that it would only last until the next eviction notice.

Home should stand for peace, unity, a place where worry and strife can be left outside the door and families can reconnect. Home means you are welcome inside.

So thank you Pastor Bryan for that statement, that sentiment that we’ve finally found a church where we can plant roots and grow together, where our boys will make friends and build relationships, where we feel like we belong.

I pray, this afternoon, that anyone reading this who feels like they are drifting will find their own home and place of peace.  The best journeys need a starting point and home is where it happens.