Whenever we travel home to Chicago, I’m always grateful for time with family and the chance to catch up on the weeks or months that have taken place in between our last visit and the one we’re sharing over the latest holiday. I’m also always grateful to come home, and to settle back into life in our little house in this little town.
I like it here, and I like the world we’ve created around us.
I think I used to be somehow afraid to make my own life, hours away from family and where we grew up–and close, only to things that are new to our lives since becoming adults and coming into our own selves. There are pieces of family and home that were once hard to say goodbye to, even if we knew we’d revisit them and go back to where all of the memories from childhood had their day. Nowadays, the people are still hard to say goodbye to when we go. But the places (and sometimes the spaces) grow less and less difficult to leave. When we come home, I’ve missed our bed, the toilet that runs through the night, our bookshelves brimming with titles, and the quirkiness of an 80 year old house. I like watching Kruger run around comfortably because he knows each room and corner and smell. I like it when we’re all tucked in and curled up for the night where we belong.
It feels like there’s been a lot of heartache at home (amongst family) as of late–job loss and illness, strained relationships, economic hardship, life slipping away. My inclination as a person is to want to fix it all and to make everything as good as new. If I could, I’d carry a magic wand around with me and wave off difficult circumstances. I’d pray away all of the complications and worries that have piled up around people we love. Going home makes all of these challenges very fresh again, and coming home from them, I’m left feeling as if wounds have been opened up anew in my heart. It’s been hard to learn that I can’t make everything right, and that no matter how hard I may be inclined to try, it’s not always my job.
Coming home after a holiday weekend suddenly makes the new life we’ve created very tangible to me again. It outlines and highlights the things I’m responsible for, the items I’m called to make a priority, the role I’ve been given to play. And even as I struggle to leave other things simply to prayer and compassion and love, I recognize that I have primary responsibilities as a wife and a mother where they didn’t once use to be. I’m thankful for this. I’m grateful for a few things that I know have to be a priority before the rest. It isn’t that I want to put anything aside, or that I love anyone less than I’ve ever loved them before, but there’s freedom in being able to define what has to come first.
It’s amazing how God is already using this little baby (who I now feel and SEE kicking and moving in my belly on a daily basis!), to teach me things about family and priorities and home. When I carry the burden and weight of too many other things, I’m now responsible for what toll it might take on my body, and consequently, what toll that might take on our unborn child. More than that, I’m also responsible for what toll it might take on our marriage. Priorities. Clarity. Definition.
I have been so blessed with family, for many years, from many angles. But now there’s one family that comes absolutely first, without exception. And it lives in my house. Our house. In a little town where we’ve created and are busy creating home. My heart will always stretch across the big lake on over to the other side, but it has to be here first. I would expect to be called to nothing less. So this, tonight, is me handing everything else over to God again and asking Him to take the heartache and burden and pain and to carry it. I just can’t do it on my own, and it’s harrowing to try. This is me setting down my worry in the best way I know how, and putting it to bed with the day. It will be there tomorrow, I know, but maybe it will be there in a little bit lighter form. Meanwhile, I have baby to nourish and a husband to care for and a family to nurture. There is life in this place. May it grow, and grow, and grow.
for the joy of the Lord,