“If you came back, you wanted to leave again. If you went away, you longed to come back.
Wherever you were, you could hear the call of the herdsman’s horn far away in the hills.
You had one home out there and one over here and yet you were an alien in both places.
Your true abiding place was the vision of something very far off, and your soul,
like the waves, always restless and forever in motion.”

Johan Bojer

Taken out the side window as the car raced along...
I’m not sure there is another people group on earth that relates to “home” in as complicated a way as the Third Culture community does. Home is kaleidoscopic for us. The savors, smells, sounds, textures and lifestyles of our past hum like static in the background of our present. Those places we’ve loved, the languages we’ve tasted, the remembered agony of imposed goodbyes and mandated transitions. They are anchored to our DNA and embedded in our cells.

And they are Home.

But they are not a single space. Home, for us, is not a location to point to or a person to embrace. It is mixed and muddled and meaningful in its indescribable, life-defining Homeness. Sometimes it buoys and charms us. And sometimes it reminds us that we can’t return again. (The pain of that is visceral.) We’ll never know that world as it was when we breathed in it.
As Tolkien said, “We feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
Some of us try to silence or ignore the melancholy longings for an us-shaped, soul-familiar place. Others let the yearnings drain the color from the newest sphere we’ve entered. Whatever its manifestation, we all, to some degree, carry the blessing and burden of our previous planets as we dwell between past and future.
You may have heard a Watermark piece (Google it…) called “My Heart, Your Home,” a simply spoken expression of commitment. It’s in inverting the words in its title that I’ve found a bit of an answer to the complexity and grief of Homeness: belonging can be mobile and changing (can follow and adapt with me) if it is based on his heart becoming my home.
This is an active concept that demands obedience and surrender. It requires “I wills.” I will pursue God’s heart and be content in it. I will enter into it as if it were my home and I will dwell in it.

But to make his heart my home, I need to know it.

I need to discover and absorb it. What is in his heart? Truth, comfort, joy, hope, direction. If I can dwell in those—if I can make of them my homethey will foster a constancy that transcends time zones and cultures. If I can pitch my nomad’s tent on the unchanging foundation of who God is and what he wants for me…perhaps the lostness so often associated with a TCK’s homelessness will find solace.

What does he want for me?
Relationship. With him. Period.

And what will his heart inspire when I immerse myself in it? Love for others, an eternal perspective, compassion, service… If I can set my goals according to his heart and find my fulfillment in cultivating his intentions, the kaleidoscope of my past will find a present and future purpose beyond a redemptive redefining of “home.”

IMG_3901 - Version 2

Will I still feel lonely when I remember my past communities? Of course, I will. Will I still crave familiarity, belonging and connection to the places I once knew? Without a doubt. The hunger for Home, the kind we can return to, is universal and good.
Being wrapped in God’s presence and inspired by his heart doesn’t eliminate the home-yearning, but it soothes and redirects its sting—and lends legacy to longing.
Making of God’s heart my center—digging my roots into the soil of his love for me and his hope for this planet—keeps me anchored to something greater and nobler than a pursuit of that illusive Home. It grants global nomads like me the mobile stability of soul-intimacy.
It makes of his Heart our Home.


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  1. Weeping even as I type. I’m not an adult TCK, but my son is. Somehow I feel for him as I read this and listen to the song. For all of us sojourners this side of home, this strikes a chord. Thank you so much for articulating it.

    • Deanna

    • 9 years ago

    What an inspiring, thought provoking post. Immersing my self in God’s heart – discovering it – and making it my home. Something to ponder and spend much time over. And in. Today I have been struck by the fleeting sense of time, how it seems to speed up each year, each month. And within that, an undefinable longing, something I have been trying to capture, and yet it is illusive, running through my hands like sand at the beach. After reading this, I think I am trying to find home. Home of the past, memories and feelings, perhaps. Thank you for this post. It is timely and i so appreciate it!

  2. I spent the morning talking to a missionary who after 38 years is retiring from her work in Africa. As I listened to her and her future plans back here in the states I was troubled about how hard it would be to transition. This post put my feelings into words. Now I know how to pray. Thank You.

    • Martha D.

    • 9 years ago

    Thank you for your comments, Michele. There is a sense in which we are all, whether we are TCKs or not, (I am one) looking for home. He is the One who has been with me through every change and experience and He knows all about me. I find great comfort and security in that.

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