- Matthew Shedden
There is home. There is exile. But you can always find home again.
Home is where it all begins.
For most it isn’t a perfect place, but it’s stable and known. It is here where we know something of Good, how it feels, and the security in brings. In this home we are carefree to a fault. We learn how to relate, trust, and belong. Here we can always remember that we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good –a goodness we can trust. We assume that things will go on like this forever. It is this home we often try to protect, and for good reason. This home can be idyllic, but it cannot last.
We head into exile after a fight with our spouse that went too far, upon receiving a diagnosis that tells us everything has changed, or when we’re hit with a realization that things aren’t as they should be... and perhaps they never were. The move into exile can feel devastating –it can be easy to stop, dwell, stay in this place… But two things are clear: we can’t ever get away from what pushed us into exile and that we must move from it.
What is it for you- a diagnosis that shatters your future? A major career upset that robs your feeling of security? The breakdown of a marriage that was sure to last?
Exile pulls us out of what we once called home, but often healing means coming back to it. We have to step back into that place and feeling of pain, betrayal, and hurt. If we don’t acknowledge our experience, our feelings, we’ll never move forward.
This is a place of dissonance, but also a place where hope is formed, longing for something more than the present. This hope knows we can’t brush over what has happened and that if something comes on the other side of this it is more than what was before. It is something different.
Home on the Other Side
The home on the other side of exile isn’t just the return to what we knew-it’s different. This home on the other side is the place of reorientation towards a new thing. It is here that the pain of exile, which was intended for evil, has now been turned to good (Gen 50:20).
This return to home contains joy as much as it contains tears and confession. If we thought the first home was a place of peace, in the home after exile we find that peace is more than just the absence of conflict but the resolution of it. This is where love is formed. Not a vague kind of love but the love the bears all things, suffers all things, and forgives all things.
Stories help us make sense of our lives. This movement from home, exile, to home on the other side is as old as Eden, the fall, then to redemption. It is the pattern of the one we call Lord, and see in his own life, death, and resurrection.
And so we have home, exile, and home on the other side of exile. Or, if you prefer - faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
May we be people who walk faithfully through exile and embrace home on the other side.
Matthew Shedden is an associate pastor in Lebanon, Oregon. He is an editor at theotherjournal.com and he believes life is divided into two season: baseball and winter (also known as Champagne season). Follow him on twitter @sheddenm.