“When you lay me down to die / I’ll open up my eyes on the skies I’ve never known / In the place where I belong / And I’ll realize His love is just another word for Home.”
~ Songwriter Andrew Peterson, “Lay Me Down”
As the holidays approach, the highways fill with traffic and airport lines grow long as hordes of people try to fulfill their great desire—or obligation—to get home. Whether home is a safe and joyous place for you or a place filled with secrets and hurts, we all long to fill our home-shaped void. Sometimes our actual homes, unfortunately, just aren’t the places to satisfy our longings, no matter how great the distance we travel.
The word home connotes a place where safety, affection, and basic comforts like food, warmth, and water abound. But what if home is unable to meet your basic needs? For every family with windows fogged from warm food cooking in a hot oven to be served to laughing, loving people, others are lonely, wishing they had a family to celebrate with. Many suffer as the product of a broken home, or miss members serving in the military or those who have left this life. For these people, the hordes at the airport and on the roads contribute to their grief.
In Allison Pittman’s new book, Loving Luther, we meet Katharina von Bora, a young woman with a past filled with deprivation after her father sent her to live at a convent at an early age. The harsh living conditions, punishments, lack of love and possessions, and conditional approval all create an environment without grace, mercy, or belonging. Katharina longs for an escape from the rule-keeping that never results in love. Does this remind you of your own living conditions or those of anyone you know?
Home should be a place where we live in truth without harboring secrets, where we are loved for being our authentic selves and feel safe to disagree. But in Katharina’s story, despite confession, Scripture memorization, recited prayers, and paid penance, she becomes a liar and a sneak to hide the times she breaks the burdensome rules. Home should never be a place where we resort to sneaking and lying to avoid punishment.
Everyone is deserving of the dignity and safety offered in a loving home, but if home feels lacking for you on earth, we can remember our real home still awaits us. As we celebrate a King born in a stranger’s bed of straw, let’s remember we’re all truly homeless until we arrive in his presence at the end of this age. Our ultimate belonging happens with God and within the community of his church. At that point, we’ll all realize “his love is just another word for Home.”
Tyndale offers other titles that address the complicated relationships between family members. Maybe some of you need to consider how your parents’ pasts contributed to their parenting style. We see this play out in Francine Rivers’s novel Her Mother’s Hope as sensitive Hildemara interprets her mother Marta’s tough love as rejection when it’s actually an effort to instill independence and strength in her children to protect them from the hurts she experienced. Unfortunately, Marta’s tough love only pushes away her children. Often, understanding a person’s motives allows for healing and forgiveness. This Christmas, would you be helped by uncovering more of your own family story?
Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept also might provide some perspective. In this novel, protagonist Hannah Sterling longs for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following her mother’s death, Hannah discovers the existence of a grandfather she never knew who ends up holding the key to the family’s tragic past. Sometimes other family members hold the answers we seek.
This Christmas, may we strive to understand our family histories. And may we not forget those around us who have no safe place to go. If possible, invite them into your celebrations, to sit at your table and feast. And keep them in your prayers.
To continue the conversation about home and family, we’re offering these titles as e-book deals this month:
Visit E-book Extra for more great deals available this month!
Thanks for reading! When you think of home, do you think more of a person, a place, or a promise?
Let us know in the comments!