Over the last week or so, I have been in observation of the Lent season in preparation for Easter Sunday in April.
Lent was something I always grew up around, but I more saw as a time to maybe shed a few pounds before the summer if I gave up sugar, gluten, or some other type of food that is considered to be “bad” for you. Lent, as of recent years, has become much more to me. It is a time to be present with the Lord, to grow in my prayer, and to be in relation with Him as I prepare my heart for Easter.
This year, I decided to take it a step further and I purchased myself a $1.99 daily devotional on iBooks to do in preparation for Easter Sunday. I am currently on day six of this devotional (written on Monday, March 11) titled Lasting Hope: Devotions for Lent 2019. We have begun this devotional by reading scripture from Psalm, one of my favorite books in the Bible.
The scripture for today’s devotion was Psalm 91:9-10 “Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your habitation, no evil will befall you, not shall affliction come near your dwelling.”
A year ago, around this time, I was really struggling in my faith. As someone who had outlived a horribly tragic fire, to walk freely from the flames only to be chained to the heaviness of grief and of extreme loss, I felt alone. I felt helpless. And most importantly, I felt faithless. I did not want to accept my new reality of never going home to the only place I have ever truly called home and most importantly, I did not want to allow my mind to go to a dark place of asking God why we had to lose everything. If I went there, I knew that I would not be able to come back.
And so in that season, I allowed myself to grieve some of the hardest grief, to reveal some of my deepest fears, and to let out some of the most painful cries of hurt, of anger, and of sorrow. In that time, I found my deepest fear was the fear of losing my home again. Losing a home in a fire is something we all see on the news, but when it happens to you, it is completely different. You are in shock the first time you hear someone tell you that your home of 16 years is gone. You are in shock the first time you see a photo of your driveway, which now leads to a pile of ash and rubble. You are in shock the first time you have to actually feel the weight of the world fall on your shoulders when you finally utter the words, “my home is gone forever.” In my mind, I thought that if it happened once to me, it would probably happen again, so why fill another house with more sentimental and meaningful things that will just go up in flames again in another 16 years?
(Oof. Like I said: I was not in a good place)
As I began to “heal” (I say “heal” because I really was just suppressing my grief and not allowing myself time and space to truly heal) from the loss of our home, I began to deny myself of calling any place “home.” I denied myself that comfort, that security, and the beauty of building a home with someone. I strategically did not call places my “home” because I was so angry at the world and at anyone I could blame for the loss of my actual home that I wanted to reaffirm to them that no place would ever be my home again. My home is a place that will always be there right. Isn’t that what Alan Jackson says? “You can always come home; wherever life’s road leads, you can come back to a place that is wild and free. You will never be alone, in your heart there is still a place; no matter how right or wrong you’ve gone: you can always come home.”
So why couldn’t I go home now?
In a time when all I wanted was to go home, why couldn’t I?
Over the course of a year, I got the help that I needed to truly grieve the horrible loss and to allow my heart to heal. I turned to Jesus. I turned to a counselor. I turned to music, to friends, to family, to fitness, and most importantly, I turned to my Bible. In a time when I just needed someone or something to tell me that I would find a home again, that I would be okay, and that I would get past this huge hurdle of despair, I found that comfort in God’s word. I have many verses that I turned to during this process, but Psalm 91:9-10 is the one for today.
This past Sunday, I had an unexpected wave of grief. This happens occasionally still, even though it has now been over a year since the loss of the house and we are currently in the process of building a new one. These waves are nowhere near as bad as the ones I would experience right after the loss, but they still will knock you off your feet for a moment and cause you to go back to some dark places. As I woke up Monday morning, ready to take on a busy week of midterm exams, homework, and late night rehearsals, I read Psalm 91:9-10 for my Lent devotion and my reality finally hit me.
While the loss of my home will forever be life-changing and devastating, I know in my heart now that my home is not a place, my home is in my heart: my home is with my God, in His word, and in His comfort. For I know now that my God is my refuge and my habitation. I know that He will not let evil befall me and I know that affliction will not come near my dwelling. And I know this because of my faith in Him and in Jesus: who was crucified, and on the third day, rose again.
Lent 2018 was about allowing myself to heal after a devastating event for my family and my hometown, but Lent 2019 already has a much different agenda and a much different connotation. It is no longer a time for me to give up the brave face I was hiding my grief behind, but it is a time for me to grow into the person that He truly means to me to be. It is a time for me to make myself comfortable in my new home, which is in Him and all that He provides for me. It is a time for me to love the Lord with all my heart and to know that no matter what may happen to the physical refuge, I will always have an emotional and a stable refuge in Him.