Home Sweet Home? — Abuse Robs Us of the Joy of Home
Joh 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
When I was teaching an ESL class a couple of years ago, one of the Spanish-speaking students asked me about the English word “house” and how it was different from our word “home.” I thought for a moment and told her that “home” es mas sentimental — is more sentimental. She told me that the same is true of the Spanish words casa (house) and hogar (home). A house is not necessarily a home, as is evident when we speak in ways like “home sweet home” or “boy, it was so good to be home” or “this place feels like home to me.” Home, in other words, is a place where we are loved and where we can feel that love. Home is a feeling, more than a place you might say.
Abusers then, necessarily destroy home. A house, which should be a home, becomes anything but. It is a place of suffering, a place of attack, a place that is anything but safe. No one is at ease in such a house. Everyone (except the abuser) is on guard against the next raging session. There is no rest in such a place. And that is tragic because our houses are meant to be homes. Families, husbands, wives, children, are meant to be blessed with a place called home. Home is a place we can run TO, not FROM, when troubles assail us.
Abuse victims begin their journey home when they leave such a place. Over time, hopefully, their new house or apartment – even if it is not nearly as luxurious as their old house – can become their home, their refuge. Why? Because the abuser is not there! They are no longer sleeping with the enemy. This surely is one chief reason that abuse victims and their children are able to begin healing once they are out of that old place. This seems like common sense, but it appears that often that “sense” is not at all common in the family court system. So many “experts” today still cling to the notion that children are better off having a relationship with both mother and father, even if one parent is a terrorist! Many of you can testify to the fact that your children just start to recover, and about that time they have to go back for a court-ordered visitation with the abuser. To a great degree they return having to start recovery all over again.
One of the greatest truths about heaven, about the New Heavens and the New Earth, is that it will be perfectly and finally our Home. Thirty years ago I resigned my career in the police department and our family headed out to the West-Central mountains of Montana to pastor our first church. Though this proved to be an extremely trying eight years (people who move to remote areas often get low marks in “plays well with others”), when it came to the mountain valley itself in which we lived, I was “home” very quickly. I loved that place. Deer, elk, moose, fish, firewood, snowmobiles, horses, mountain lakes, snow. It has been very, very difficult for me to get over Montana, and in fact I really never have. If I could somehow transport our present church congregation to that valley, it would be a bit of heaven on earth.
As I write this, I am sitting in our church building here in Tillamook. We have been here going on now, 21 years. We have a small but wonderful band of believers in Christ Reformation Church now, but this unity has not come without many battles. Over these past two decades, and to a degree in the first decade of our ministry, the Lord has allowed many classic abusers to work their deeds upon us. This place, this building, has been the scene of many battles and discouragement, especially in the years before we truly came to understand the mentality and tactics of abuse (of evil). As a result, it has not been a “home.” Many times it has been more of a place where we have felt like we were unwelcome guests.
Those feelings do not depart quickly, even when we have separated from the abusers. I am hoping that someday this building will have a different “feel” to it — that it will become a home. I suspect that it will as memories of abuse are replaced with those of kindness, loyalty, and Christlike love.
I hope the same for all of you. I hope that you can find a place free of abuse, where you feel that you have come home. This much I can be certain of. Every single one of Christ’s people will without fail come safely home. The Lord knows us intimately. He knows the kind of home we need, and He is building it for us right now. One of the things we are going to experience on the Day He comes for us is that we will see our custom-made mansion and we will gasp and say, “I’m home. I am finally home. THIS is my Father’s house, and it is mine too.”