A Place Called Home.

“Where are you headed?”

“I’m going back home,” I said.

The irony was that I didn’t really think of the city I grew up in as home.  At least, not in the same way most people would.

I didn’t have warm memories from my childhood.  I grew up feeling that I didn’t belong anywhere.  I felt that I was always different.  I couldn’t relate to people, they couldn’t relate to me.  Many times, I felt really lonely and really alone.  Even in my own family.  So I spent a lot of my time by myself, reading books and doing origami and other art-related things.  In my childhood years, my need for belongingness used to bother me a lot.  Until one day I decided that I should just deal with it.  I stopped caring about other people.  I got used to being on my own, and developed an independent spirit.  Instead of being surrounded by people, actually preferred to be left alone.

I carried this all the way to my adult life – I often made my own decisions, and I would not let the absence of company keep me from doing things that I wanted to do.  Not belonging anywhere made me free to do many things – there were no emotional attachments that would keep me from leaving one thing to pursue another.  I actually enjoyed my independence.  I became itinerant.

From 2005 to 2012, I moved houses ten times, across three countries and two time zones.  My already weak concept of home became even more fluid.  At some point, the country where I worked and stayed for 340 days in a year felt more like home than the place I return to for Christmas.

In 2012, circumstances made me decide to come back to Manila.  It was tough.  I had to adjust to living with my parents again.  The people I knew from before had gone on with their own lives.  To top it off, my parents moved houses while I was overseas.  Everything was actually new.  The house I used to go home to is no longer the house I live in.  Imagine coming back to a place that other people consider to be YOUR home, and feeling that it is anything BUT home.

2012 was the year I came back, and it was also the year I started attending Sunday services regularly at my current church.  Shortly after my move, I decided to sign up for a discipleship group almost immediately.  For some reason, I felt this need to be part of a church community.  Maybe because I ran out of friends after being gone for seven years.  Maybe I realised that I needed to get serious with my spiritual walk.  Whatever it was, it made me give my name and contact number to a stranger without knowing what kind of group I’ll end up with.

In less than a week’s time, someone called and invited me to their DGroup.  It was awkward.  I felt more like a guest or an observer than an actual member.  But the genuine, open, and caring nature of the ladies I’m with finally won me over. In a few months, I was able to adjust and integrate.

After settling into my DGroup, I decided to be more actively involved in the church by joining the singles ministry.  The people were also warm, friendly and encouraging.  In some strange way, I had moved from being an outsider to becoming a part of this community.  In my many years of not belonging anywhere, I had finally felt that I was part of something meaningful.  This church had become my home, and the people here had become my family.

It’s difficult to explain in words, this new sense of belongingness.  But I guess it boils down to this – my church felt so much like home because this is where I had felt, received, and given so much love and acceptance.  This is where I saw Colossians 3:14 lived out

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

This love that binds is the love that every believer has received first from Jesus.  It is the promise that God has given us in John 1:12

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

This is home.  And here I’ve found real brothers and sisters – not by blood, but by His amazing grace.

People wonder how I can be such a happy single person.  It boils down to being and feeling loved – by a heavenly Father and his son Jesus.  And experiencing that love through my earthly and spiritual families.  Though I go through the pains of this world just like every other human being, I know that the best is yet to come.  Because as God’s daughter, heaven is my permanent home.

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