Looking for Home

Last month, my husband and I moved from the home we’ve lived in for 24 years—the house we built after moving back to Michigan, where we raised our family. There were several moments throughout the stressful process when I felt like I’d foolishly launched into the deep end of the pool and wasn’t going to surface.

When our kids were still young, we decided to build a pool in our backyard, investing in a space where we could relax, play, and invite others to do the same. Since I hadn’t taken swim lessons growing up, and still had a healthy fear of deep water, I was determined our kids would have a different experience. In many ways, I learned alongside them, as they learned the skills and courage needed to move from the shallow end, where their toes could still touch the bottom, to the deep end that required them to move their bodies in ways that kept them from sinking.

Over time, I came to appreciate the sense of freedom and aliveness I felt when I would venture into the deep end, settling the fear as it began to rise, reminding myself with each breath to let myself be buoyed by the warm, crystal-clear water.

The deep end is where I learned to trust in the wisdom of my body and in the resources I’d learned to stay afloat.

As Chris and I talked about the new stage of life we’ve entered with our adult kids grown and established in their own lives, we felt ready to mark the end of that phase, represented by our home, and move into a new one. I am keenly aware that every ending is a reminder of death, and every new beginning is disruptive because it is not yet familiar—not yet home. The in-between space reminds me of that feeling after the plunge—pushing up towards the light dancing on the surface of the water, but not yet sure what awaits me above the surface.

I’ve had to remind myself intentionally to look for signs of hope in this process. The exhausting reality of several unexpected obstacles threatened to mar the goodness of our dreaming together about the future. More than once, Chris and I turned to each other and said, “What were we thinking?”

Amid this angst, a dear friend sent this message: “Be encouraged that you will not regret doing this at this time of your life.  Be kind to yourself as you transition.  It takes time to settle. Be safe…don’t push too hard…love you.”

As I sat with my emotions and let them settle, I knew I didn’t regret making the decision to move—our home no longer felt like it fit. And it was painful to leave. It was the space where not only our kids grew up, but we did, too. On our last day there, Chris and I walked through the rooms, remembering the stories each one held, and said “Thank you. Thank you for holding us, for providing shelter and comfort, a place to laugh, cry, play, and live.”

As things settle in our new home, we ask for the same things, knowing they will look and feel different in this space, and trusting that eventually it will feel like home.

Janet Stark is a deeply feeling introvert who has learned the value of creating nurturing, restful space in a loud world. She loves the connection that is possible when we slow down and listen to each other with intention. A few of her favorite things include the smell of freshly baked bread, soft blankets, good books, and the warmth of her puppy, Oliver, snuggled up close. Janet and her husband Chris love traveling, especially to spend time with their three adult children.