In an uncovered memory, I am 6 and my tall Daddy is strong and laughing while tossing me in the air—air thick with the weight of summer heat and the smell of growing wheat. Air thick with my squeals and persistent pleas to throw me high just one more time.
But in reality, the earth has moved around the sun 36 times since I was 6, and Dad has moved into a nursing home. Dad was diagnosed with MS decades ago, but in the last few years, his condition deteriorated to such a degree he now needs the around-the-clock care this facility provides.
While in my hometown, my husband, kids and I visit him there for the first time. When we walk inside, air thick with expected and unexpected smells meet us at the door. And while I’m so thankful for the good care and attentive staff available here, I tear up when I see Dad in this unfamiliar place.
Dad tears up too when he sees us. Even as his memories of us fade with time, he is still loving and kind as ever. We talk, look at family pictures, and hang framed artwork on one of the walls. At some point during our visit, he wants to know the answer to this question, “Are we all going home now?”
Because how can you already be home when you’re in a place that feels anything but?
Difficult change often does that, you know. It takes you from what’s familiar to a new place that makes you sigh and squirm and stare out the window for the quickest ride back to the corner of Settled & Safe. I’ve spent much time resenting how change brings the dark, scary new into my life while boldly pushing the calm reliable outside of it. That is no neighborhood I want to dwell in because it feels far, far from home.
I’ll take anything that will take me back to the way things used to be. So I ask God,
Can you get me out of here and take me back to what’s familiar? To what feels like home?
And the Lord kindly answers me Darling, I can get you out of here, but the only way out is through.
Death, disease, debt and divorce—no matter the change that rocks us, it matters that we remember we have the Rock to help us through. It’s not a warm ‘n fuzzy cliché but a solid slab of truth. And isn’t it also true that every change carries God’s same promise of presence?
And what’s more, could this current season of change be in our lives so we can experience God’s presence in greater, more personal ways than ever before?
Moses might tell us absolutely. He ran smack-dab into change while leading his people out of Egypt and through the desert, and along the way he experienced God’s presence like no other. At one point while with God on Mount Sinai, Moses boldly asks God, “Show me your glory.” (Exodus 33: 18). But knowing a direct view of his glory would be too much for Moses, God places him in a crevice of a rock and covers him with his hand while passing by. And what I uncover is this: When change places me in unfamiliar territory, is it rather dark because God’s hand covers me too? Could it be dark due to mercy and protection rather than from abandonment? Because God is still mercifully maneuvering my best interest in the middle of change as He is before and after it.
Even when it doesn’t look or feel like it.
Scripture tells us Jesus’ own words: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). Look up that verse and you’ll find there are no caveats or special circumstances outside this promise. It’s every bit as true during times of stormy change as it is during times of calm familiar.
With the passing of time, I see Dad slipping away from us. But with every slipping away of one kind, there is a slipping toward of another.
And in his room, the sunlight shines through the windows like a benediction that changes the view of everything. And I see it more clearly—how every change can bring us closer to the warmth of Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer Who invites us to make our home in Him.
If you find yourself slipping away from the familiar or slipping toward a change right now, perhaps this will help.
Carrie Strand says
Girl, I have so needed this. This move has been so much harder than I thought, and I have been struggling with feeling so numb. Thank you for the reminder that HOME is wherever God is, and whoever He has put us. “Because how can you feel at home in a place that feels anything but?” I was doing okay, then I read that and cried. That is exactly how I am feeling. I’m trying to put on a courageous and brave face for my girls, especially Abie, but man, when I am alone, oh boy. Thank you friend. Miss you and your kindness. ❤️❤️
Girl, you have had a BIG year full of change and transition, so it’s no wonder you’ve struggled. I sure would have! Praying for you and your family now, that what you know in your head is what you feel in your heart. You are so loved, Carrie, and missed like crazy. xoxo
Your perspective on change and hard places really touched me. I hope He is covering me with his hand and so that’s what I choose to believe.
Beth Williams says
I can so relate to this story of your dad. I watched my mom’s health decline and for two years she was bedridden before God lovingly took her home. My dad moved into an assisted living in 2014. He grew to dislike being there and missed his freedom. That year he had many hospitalizations & medical issues-some major. June 2015 I quit my job to be more available for him and two weeks later we put him on hospice. His mental status declined sharply. After 2 months in 2016 we got a good diagnosis and medication changes. He is now living in a different assisted living in memory care and doing quite well.
It’s tough to watch your parents slip away like this. You want the familiar back. You long for the good old days. Like you said: God will get us through these trials.
Sheri Prescott says
Kristen, our Heavenly Father has given you such a beautiful way of writing with hope and joy, in the midst of so much “hard.” Thank you for encouraging my heart today… it is pcs season and as always, friends going and hearts being pulled. My grandmother’s 88th birthday party is happening far away and I can’t be there, and my youngest boy said good-bye to his first “best friend” last week. May my home always be made in Jesus!