“There’s no place like home,” said Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, as she clicked her heels together. But what does it truly mean to come home?

I started pondering this word, home, after hearing a sermon at church and reading a sentence from my current favorite inspirational book that begged me to use my highlighter to mark it.

This pondering also comes at a time when my husband and I will be moving into a new home.

Robert and I met in mid-life and have been married for fourteen years as of this writing. When we married, I moved into Robert’s house. It’s been home ever since.

But after evaluating our future needs (Robert was diagnosed with Parkinson’s), and personal desires for more space (room for grandchildren to visit as well as out of town friends), we made the decision to move.

I turned to my well-worn Random House paperback dictionary (which no longer has a back) for the definition of home.

The Dictionary Meaning of Home

  1. A place of residence
  2. The place in which one’s domestic affections are centered
  3. The native place or region of a thing
  4. Any place of refuge

Other Sayings Using the Word Home

  1. At home: in one’s house, at ease
  2. Home free: safe, secure, settled

Home as a Place of Residence 

Except for a brief stint at college in Chicago, St. Louis has always been my home.

My son lives here. Robert’s parents and my mother lived here. As our parents aged, we were grateful to be able to take care of their needs until they passed away.

We reside in a community within the St. Louis metro area called Kirkwood. Robert and I are very involved in our church. We both have sports groups and organizations that we belong to. Kirkwood is where our roots are planted. It’s home.

Being in Exile from Home

The sermon that sparked this home pondering was called: At Home Even in Exile.

The passage used was Isaiah 51:1-6 where the Israelites were exiled from their homes. The promise was that God never leaves them and will deliver them.

The pastor shared her story of depression. It flares up like the bad disk in her back. Unlike the disk, which causes physical pain, depression will attack her emotionally. Left unchecked, it will question her existential truths: does God love me, does my husband love me, does what I do matter?

Her simple garden variety anxiety turns into a place where she no longer feels at home in her family, mind, or with God. She is in exile from meaning and purpose and in need of finding her joy in coming back home to her true self.

Home – The Place that Never Goes Away

The book I mentioned is The In-Between – Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins. The sub-title of his second chapter is, Finding Your Way Home.

There are two sentences that caused me to journal about this meaning of home and all the homes I’ve lived in.

“I was starting to identify more with where I lived, not where I was from.”

The home I grew up in holds no sentimental value for me. In fact, it holds a lot of pain. It was a broken home, hardly a place of refuge due to my father’s alcohol induced violent outbursts. I couldn’t wait to leave home and couldn’t identify with where I was from.

Five homes followed. The sixth became my refuge where I finally came home to myself after a painful divorce. I found my joy there.

The second sentence from The In-Between is:

“It’s the one place that never truly goes away; it’s always there, wherever there may be.”

I like to put it this way:

 Home is the deepest part of ourselves, where we find our hearts and souls.

Finding Joy in Coming Home

I’m looking forward to this move to a new home where we will enjoy what I call more gracious space. There will be things I will miss about our current home.

But we searched for the perfect location, found the floor plan to meet our needs, and picked out the features for function and to express our personal style. Most importantly, it will be our place of refuge and to offer hospitality where we were not able before.

We will be finding joy in coming home to our new place. That’s because Robert and I have both discovered what it means to come home to ourselves, a place where we feel at ease, safe, secure, and settled.

I hope my pondering about finding joy in coming home and what it truly means to come home will spark some pondering of your own. What’s the meaning of home for you? I’d love for you share in the comment section below.