We just returned from our annual trip to northern California to visit family in Humboldt County and Marysville. It was a great trip! My brother Rob and his family made the trip up north too, so the whole gang was there! We got to spend a lot of time just hanging out with our loved ones, watching the cousins play and make precious memories. I got to cuddle my sweet, little nieces a bunch! The only missing part of the trip was a visit to the ranch. We opted out because we couldn’t pull the kids away from their cousins!
Over the past several years, I find myself romanticizing the idea of living back in Humboldt County again. There’s so much I love about it – the natural beauty including the amazing redwood trees, the quaint homes and shops, and the fact that I lived there for the first 18 years of my life! But, mostly I want to live closer to my mom, dad, stepmom, my sister Sarah and her family. I love these people so much! As all the cousins have bonded over the years, it’s especially sweet when we’re together. They love one another and run around in this big pack of kids, it’s the best.
This trip, I let my thoughts wander to the possibility of living up north more than usual. My thoughts became judgements as I mentally listed the pros and cons of Humboldt versus the pros and cons of San Diego. Then, I started to brood. Why did we all have to live so far apart? Why is California such a long state? Why does the traffic in Southern California have to be so terrible?? This last part kicked in as we sat in a traffic jam at 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday.
By the time we arrived home, I was super irritable. Maybe it was the transition back to “real” life, or the fact it was 90 degrees in our house, or the annoyance of traffic. Or, all of those contributing factors! I could feel my crankiness growing as the evening went on. I prayed for patience and tried to get to bed as soon as possible. The nagging feeling of being conflicted between wanting to live in Humboldt and San Diego continued the following morning. My thoughts were swirling with a negativity that was not helpful.
Then, as I unpacked some of my purchases from the trip, I opened a little bowl for holding jewelry. I read the quote inside: “Home is Where the Heart Is…” This very familiar expression caught my attention with its poignancy. Instead of feeling conflicted, I thought, what if I fused with another thought: “How lucky am I to have some many places that feel like home?! Aren’t I fortunate to have a heart that loves people in both places?” I sighed a peaceful sigh as I put the little bowl on my dresser. What a great example of reframing!
At church later that morning, God continued to reveal a lesson I needed to learn. Pastor Brian preached on the metaphor of Jesus being the bread of life. He started by describing the universal human condition of searching for life’s meaning: “There must be more to life…” we’ve all asked at some point. When I heard that expression, I related deeply. That’s exactly what I was doing on this trip. Looking for the idyllic, perfect place to live. When, in reality, no place this side of heaven is perfect. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.
This lead me to think about the concept of home along with the verse from Matthew, chapter 6: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What am I treasuring in this seeking? Ultimately, what I treasure is God and the people he’s called me to love and serve. My family are the most treasured, so it makes sense that I feel a pull to be with them more. However, I have friends and a church family in San Diego that also feels like home. So much love.
I also jotted down this part of Pastor’s sermon: “When Jesus says he’s the bread of life, he means he’s the most important part of your life.” Ah, yes. I reflected back on my lack of prayer during this trip. When I get into one of my “control” mindsets, striving to figure things out overwhelms my thoughts. Turning to God and asking him to enlighten this seeking didn’t occur to me. Until it did. When I released my desire to “figure it out” and surrendered to God’s perfect will, I felt peace, which after all, is what he promises. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 5-7.