It’s such a simple word and yet it can cause some extreme emotions.
For some it will induce a powerful sense of longing for somewhere we once felt safe, ‘at home’ in that it now lost to us.
For others it will evoke pleasure that as you read my words, you are home.
And for still others, the idea of home is an anathema, an unrealised dream and impossible goal.
It is part of our humanity to yearn for a place to call our own – since Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden – we have been searching for home.
On a economic level, many of my generation dream of owning their own homes and feel the dream is simply out of their reach. And all around the world, there are men, women and children who do not have a place to call home; who sofa-surf, live on the streets or bounce between hospital rooms.
As I’ve been reading Jo Swinney’s great book “Home” this past week, I’ve been struck by how much having a home is vital to mental health; having a home both materially but also having a home within ourselves.
“One of the ways depression sucks…is the way it alienates you from yourself. You become a person you don’t recognise.”
The most gregarious and outgoing may retreat into themselves when depression makes itself at home in them; depression singles you out and stops you feeling at home in your own skin.
For me, becoming at home in my own skin has been a part of my healing. I’m not trying to be someone else, or another version of myself, depression might have the guest bed in my life sometimes – but it’s not the whole house.
I’ve come to accept that it might come to stay from time to time, but I’ve worked out ways to see it on its way again.
Becoming at home within myself has involved coming to terms with my story – even the parts I’d like to delete.
I’m making myself a safe home for my story – and I think we’ve got a role to play in making our homes and churches safe places in which to live and seek God.
“Making our peace with where we’ve come from is how we’ll be able to find home in the story from here on.”
You can buy Jo’s book here.