Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see. -Corrie ten Boom
That quote used to hang above my bed. I had a picture of myself and three friends enlarged and added those words along the bottom.
It didn’t matter where we were, it only mattered that we were together. I hadn’t known any of them for more than a year but God’s timetable is a funny thing.
As I type this I’m sitting at a long wooden table in a bustling coffee shop. There’s chatter in the background and the smell of roasted coffee beans fills the air. It’s one of my favorite places in Birmingham, partly for the coffee but mainly for the community.
I’ve been staring at the blinking cursor and trying to figure out what I could possibly write without awkwardly crying and making my table-sharing-neighbors uncomfortable.
Catch me at the right time and the word Birmingham will make me cry. I can’t even help it, I just love this place so much. The city is beautiful and a mix of old and new. It gives a big Southern welcome no matter where you go, the sky displays the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, and everything about it feels like home.
But as I talk with friends about places I may end up after graduation, moving to a new city isn’t what makes me sappy. Oh sure, I’ll miss Birmingham with every bit of me, but not for the coffee shops or my favorite places to grab a bite. Birmingham is where my people are.
Home is that safe place that will stay in your heart even if your feet move on.
They are home to me.
It’s not really about a place, it’s about the people.
They have walked my road with me, journeyed through the darkness and held my hand until I could see the light, shown me Jesus in their words and actions, and made me laugh until I fell to the floor. They have been a safe place for secret sharing, the first people I tell exciting news, and my late night drive companions.
These people have seen me dance and joined in (after laughing at my uncoordinated moves). They’ve put up with my not-so-lovely singing in the car. We’ve got inside jokes and memories that will last a life time. We’ve roadtripped and left the country on mission trips and gone on milkshake runs when we should have been fast asleep. These are the people that will watch Netflix with me for hours in a row, whisper jokes in class so we’ll both stay awake, put up with my need to take a picture of basically everything, and listen to me ramble as I tell stories over a shared meal.
They have carried me to the feet of Jesus more times than I can count. They have held my heart securely, prayed for me intently, and loved me fiercely.
My heart is safe in their hands. They are my home.
And so as I sit on this wooden bench typing away, tears sting my eyes at the thought of leaving. But there is a sweet comfort in the truth that we carry each other in our hearts.
No distance of place or lapse of time can lesson the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth. -Robert Southey
To the ones I call home:
You are my people. There is no place I’d rather be than with you. But as times change and roads lead to new places, some of us going and some of us staying, know that as I hug you hard and tear up at the silliest things I’m really just struck by how deeply I love you. I am fully persuaded of your worth. So many of my richest moments are with you, sacred moments when I have felt the Father’s love by the way that we love each other.
We’ve walked messy roads that have broken us, but we have rebuilt. We have misunderstood and made it right, we’ve loved until it hurt and then loved some more, we have invited and pulled up another seat, always another seat, because there is always more grace and more room. You have shown up to celebrate the joys and held me in the sad times. You are a part of my story and when the page turns, I’m taking your characters onto the next chapter. Because we’re all just walking each other home. I’m sniffling in the corner of the coffee shop and I bet not one of you are surprised because hi, you know me. But that means you should also know how deeply you are loved for all that you are. Home is where my people are. You are home to me.
There’s this book that just came out called Home Is Where My People Are and let me tell you, I have never laughed out loud so loudly (in public) while reading a book. Sophie Hudson has written pure gold and has woven stories of the South into the most beautiful tapestry. It’s a collection of stories about her people and the places she’s called home.
It is laugh out loud funny but also so very tender. I have to admit, because Sophie lives in Birmingham and writes so sweetly about the city I love best, I couldn’t help but feel she had snuck inside my mind. As she says, though, it’s not so much about the skyline or the sunsets or the roads you drive; it’s about the people who love you sitting around the table.
Home is where my people are. It is such sweet truth and a beautiful reminder. I highly (!) recommend this book.