For the past three and a half years I spent at the University of Georgia I came home almost every weekend. I moved back home after graduation, started working at the high school I attended which is five minutes away, and my fiancé and I will be living on the same street as my family when we get married in May. We will also be visiting his family, an hour away, as much as we can.
There are many people who would consider us crazy for our decisions. Staying close to home is definitely not the norm among “college-educated” young adults (neither is getting married at twenty-one.)
It is true that there are unhealthy ways to stay at or close to home, especially when such a decision is based out of fear or laziness. Sometimes staying close to home restricts the exercise of one’s own talents and purpose in life. Many must leave home to find this purpose. Some must leave home because of dangerous or detrimental situations. Many value being close to family, but don’t have that luxury, or have other priorities that justifiably outweigh being close to home.
But aside from these specific situations, in our culture there is a fundamental belief that staying close to home is inherently immature and detrimental. And they can’t understand why, if not out of an unhealthy attachment, one would choose to do so.
But the reason is simple—love—and that should be obvious. But it’s not anymore. Because nowadays many people think of home in a very different way. More importantly, they think of love in a very different way. They want love to be simple and easy. They don’t want the entanglements of longterm commitment because commitment is difficult. So they choose not to make such longterm commitments. The problem is, love requires commitment and so love is necessarily difficult. And we don’t like things that are difficult.
What we often forget is that it is the difficult things that usually bring about the most joy. It is commitment through even the hard times that bring about the fruits of true love. And this commitment is so worth it. It is the only truly worth it thing in the world.
And while we may know this, we fear it. Women especially have a tendency to believe that commitment is the end of something, a kind of death. There are so many negative connotations associated with being a stay at home mom or getting– rather, staying married. And of course there are such connotations because the truth is, well, commitment does require death. It is the death of selfishness. And it is often a slow and laborious death. Usually the little vermin continues to revitalize himself throughout the course of our lives. But the smaller and smaller he gets– the more we submit to such a death– the more room is opened up inside of us. And then– what would be seen as a restriction of freedom becomes the gateway to a lifted and joyful soul, truly free and full of life.
We need not fear home. Perhaps it is not four walls we are avoiding– perhaps those four walls or family members don’t even exist or don’t even want us there– but even if we may feel homeless, somewhere, someone is asking for our commitment, asking for our love, asking for us to come home. Coming home does not necessarily demand that we “settle down” in a particular town or house. Neither does it necessarily mean we must “settle down” with a particular person or group of people. Each of us knows deep down the path home. We know what we run from that pulls at our heartstrings and we know whose voice we drown out with each heavy stomp of our frightened feet. As J.R.R. Tolkien says, “not all who wander are lost.” How true this is. Many of us must wander to find our home. But let us not wander so much that we wander aimlessly. For if we do this for too long, no matter how many parties we may attend, no matter how many Facebook friends we may have or how many dates we go on or how ever many places we may travel– we will end up very lonely. And we were not made to be lonely. We were made for Home. And home can be a lovely place, and it can be full of adventure– even if that adventure is only to the mailbox and back.