Find home in your heart

photo If you would have told me during my early college years that upon graduation I would be living in the state of Oregon, I probably would have laughed in your face. Adventurer was by no means a word that I would have selected to describe myself. I was fine in my bubble and saw no need to adventure out of it. I saw no need to look outside of my walls. Here are three of the definitions that Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary provides for the word home.

  1. One’s place of residence
  2. A place of origin
  3. A familiar or usual setting

There are three specific locations where I have lived that I would call home for some time period of my life—York, PA, Mechanicsburg, PA, and Roseburg, OR. I grew up in York, went to college in Mechanicsburg, and completed my AmeriCorps service terms in Roseburg. If I had gone to Messiah College and not been on the track team, not made friends, and not became one with the community, I do not think I would have ever called it home. What if I had grown up in a house where I did not feel loved or supported by my parents, would I have called it home? If I hated my AmeriCorps service term, did not like my position, and had no friends, I am sure that it would not have made the list of places that I call home.

Clearly, the idea of home is not defined by the location in which you live. Home is defined by experiences, by love, by fulfilling your hearts passion, by friendships, by a support system, and by living in an environment that brings out the best in you where you can say “this is me”.

Within the past 2 years I have moved to Oregon, back to Pennsylvania, back to Oregon, and in August I will be moving back to Pennsylvania yet again. When I returned back to Pennsylvania after living in Oregon for my first year, I realized that I had forgotten something out in Oregon— my heart. So, I came back here to find it. I came back to the place where I had lived for the year after I graduated from college. I came back in search of where I had left my heart.

Did I find it, you ask? I found my heart in the Oregon trees. I found it in the children who I work with every day. I found it in the stillness of my river journaling spot. I found it in the simple, laid back Oregon lifestyle. Yes, I would say that I found my heart. Well, part of it at least.

Life was easy when I had one place I called home. Heck, it was even easy when I had two places that I called home because they were only 45 minutes from each other. But now that I have a place I call home that is 3,000 miles away from my other two homes, my heart becomes torn.

You frequently hear that “home is where your heart is”. This definition makes my heart feel slightly confused as it is defined by a location in which you feel the deepest affection. I think that it is more accurate to say that home is where you left a piece of your heart. Home is a chunk of your heart that you permanently left somewhere that you will never get back.

As I have struggled to discover my true home, I realized that there is not one specific place that I can say is my home. My actual house where I grew up in, the apartment that I stayed in during college, and the house that I am currently renting from are only bricks and wood. A physical home is easily demolished while a heart home can last forever.

But sometimes you unfortunately find that something that was home has become home no more. A broken friendship. Sometimes home doesn’t last forever. Sometimes certain homes are meant to come and go– change us, teach us, and prepare us for our next home.

I like to think that I have a big heart. My big heart can hold a whole lot of home. While my heart is at home with the children in Roseburg Oregon, it is also at home with my friends in Mechanicsburg, PA. My heart is at home when I am at my church in York as it is when I am in my church in Mechanicsburg and Roseburg. Home is everywhere where two souls connect.

When I leave Roseburg in a little over a month, I am at first saddened by the thought of what I will be leaving behind. I will once again leave behind a part of my heart. What I find comfort in, is the fact that the same heart that will be losing a part will be regaining a part that it had not seen recently. I no longer look at it as a piece of my heart that I have forgotten, but a piece of my heart that will forever be a part of who I am.

There are so many places in this country and in this world that are looking to enter my heart. New places with people I can impact and with people who can impact me. New views on life and the world that I can discover; new journaling places. With every stranger you have the potential of becoming friends just like with every place that you visit you have the potential of finding a new home.

I was once asked what it is that I am searching for—why I can’t seem to settle in one place. I could not answer the question at the time I was asked. But know I can see that I am returning to PA for a rejuvenation of part of my heart before I adventure off to discover yet another new part.

Find the adventurer inside of you and discover your heart in a new place. This may be somewhere nearby or it may be that big move you’ve always dreamed of. Take a chance in discovering a piece of your heart that you never knew was missing.

Home is the make-up of everything that has stolen a piece of your heart. Therefore your heart is the make-up of what you call home.

Follow your heart’s true joy-fulfilling passion

You may or may not have known, but I spent the past year serving with AmeriCorps at a Boys & Girls Club. Above all else, this experience has taught me about true fulfilling joy.

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In sum what I have discovered is that true joy is not found through anything that you receive. You find true joy through what you give. It is found in celebrating the successes of others and in feeling a fulfillment you only experience when you embrace someone else’s reason to smile.

I have discovered a type of love that I have termed need-love. It is a love that can be directly connected with joy. When someone counts on you and you are willing to protect them and support them with all that you have. When a child loses a friend or family member, is struggling with who they are, struggling with their home life, there is nothing that makes you feel more needed or more internally fulfilled than the feeling of someone turning to you when they do not have that support elsewhere. One of the most fulfilling experiences of joy is through helping someone in their time of need return a smile back to their beautiful face.

This need love is not a one-way street. Although you may be fulfilling the needs of someone else, whether you know it or not, they are somehow filling a need that you may or may not know you had. You do not go about looking for these people. They just come, impact your life and you wonder what you ever could have done without them entering in. Soon you find yourself wanting to be there for them, which then brings you back to joy.

Deep, deep down inside of every heart is a hole– a hole that we all too often try to fill with materialistic things of this world. This year I had thought that I felt a distancing from God, but really I had just stopped looking for Him. While I was not pursuing Him, He was still pursuing me. What filled the hole for me was this deep feeling of joy that now when looking back on it, I know only came from the Lord and using the passion I had been given. He was with me from the start and this joy that I found was evidence that He lives inside of me and was working on me even when I could not see it. Now that I am back in Pennsylvania, I can see that I was connected to my faith all along. Maybe I just needed to leave Oregon so that my foggy vision could be made clear.

Everyone has been given a gift or a passion that can be used to help others. Everyone. God would not give us a true good-hearted passion that he would not want us to use.

Do you wake up in the morning and cannot wait to begin your day? Are you doing what you truly love and what you are most passionate about? Is your heart filled with this joy, with this feeling of completeness? Imagine what the world would be like if everyone did what they were passionate about everyday.

I have been asked a countless number of times since returning to PA, “What’s next?” When sharing a few potential ideas about my future I have been told, “That is a great step up from what you were doing” and that I will “keep working my way up”. Instead of looking at what the next step is, look at the now and analyze what gives you joy. We all too often like to plan our lives out with the overly used 5-year plan. By using this 5-year plan you may be missing out on your true joy and passion that is trying to reveal itself to you in the meantime.

I think of the path that I am to take with my degree. Sure, I could go down that road which would give me more money than some of my other avenues. But what is money when my joy lies elsewhere? At the end of my life am I going to wish that I settled into this mold that we call life or am I going to wish that I explored every path and avenue?

I will not be confined by what reality appears to be but only be the passion that is in my heart. When your heart sets your soul’s passion on fire, YOU are unstoppable.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love.” – Maya Angelou

When you follow your heart’s passion, the joy that you feel will be contagious.