During the span of the 3 months following graduation, I can safely say that I’ve done a fair share of introspection, reflection, and self-discovery. This was the first time in awhile where I felt like I was truly ending one chapter of my life and beginning a new one as I said goodbye to my undergraduate days and dove headfirst into true adulthood. Just this summer, I earned my Bachelor’s degree, watched one of my best friends get married, reconnected with people I’d lost contact with, and silently cheered on other friends as they began new and exciting adventures in their own lives. Despite all of these huge strides my friends and I have taken in the short summer, the one thing that I’ve been spending a lot of my time reflecting on was moving house – not once, but twice – and the emotions and conclusions that came along with it.
At seventeen, I moved out of the town I grew up in to begin a new journey here in southern California. I always viewed Sacramento as home. It was the place I always looked forward going back to during the holiday breaks, a place that holds so many cherished memories, and a place that will always hold a special place in my heart. Sacramento was home.
I’ve always been picky with what place I call home. To some, “going home” rolls off the tongue without a bat of an eyelash. “Home” to some people is synonymous with the place that you sleep every night. To a lot of people, “home” is a just a place, a location, a structure with a bed, doors, and windows. Over the years, I’ve realized that “home” is so much more than the place you take naps in between classes. Home is a feeling. I’ve always been hesitant with the places I call home because to me, home is a place where I feel safe. The longer I lived in Pomona and the surrounding LA County cities, the less I felt my heart yearning to go back to Sacramento. I was making (and losing) friendships here, going through major life changes, and creating new memories that ultimately made this place my home.
As a handful of my friends and family have noticed, I have moved more times during the time I’ve lived here in southern California than the amount of years I’ve actually lived down here. In the 6 years I’ve lived in southern California, I’ve moved to and from Pomona (multiple times), Azusa, Glendora, Chino Hills (twice), Diamond Bar, and Montclair. I’ve probably seen more of the counties of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, and parts of Riverside and Orange counties, than I’ve seen of my own hometown. For majority of this past school year, I lived in my friend’s parents’ house in Pomona before moving into an apartment with a few friends in Diamond Bar for the remainder of the school year. This past summer, two friends and I subleased a house in Montclair before securing a place of our own in Chino Hills. It was during all of this moving that I began to realize that I had lost all sense of permanency and what it truly felt like to be at home. I also realized that my feeling lost didn’t just come from living out of boxes for a good part of the year, but also from having the rug get pulled out from under me multiple times.
When I moved into the apartment in Diamond Bar, I started to feel myself get comfortable when I came back from school or work. I was finally living in the presence of people who were more or less on the same page of life as I was, and who genuinely cared about me. But just as I became more and more comfortable calling that place my home, it was time to move out and into the next place. Through a tumultuous year of uncertainty and toxic circumstances, I regarded my job at the Annual Fund on campus as my safe place and my refuge among the chaos that my life had become. After almost 2 years of working there, I had to say goodbye when I graduated. After (finally) graduating with my Bachelor’s degree, Cal Poly was soon added to the long list of places I had to say goodbye to, along with my days as a student. When I went back to Sacramento for my graduation party this past June, as I looked around the room at the people I grew up with in the town I grew up in, I came to the realization that Sacramento, the place I once called home, was no longer my home.
I’ve wrestled with the feeling of being lost and unattached. As I packed my life into boxes for the umpteenth time, I wondered when I would be able to hang stuff up on my bedroom walls again, when I would once again feel at home, if that place even exists anymore. Through further introspection, I realized that the reason why all of these places are held so near and dear to my heart is that I’ve felt God’s presence in each of those places – I wasn’t home unless the Lord was there also. This explains why I felt more at home in the three and a half months I lived in Diamond Bar than I did in the 9 months I lived in Pomona the first time I moved out on my own. It explains why I found a home at the Annual Fund and not at my job in Orange County this past year – the Lord led me in my work and my creations at one job and not the other. I reignited my relationship with Christ at Cal Poly, and the events in the years leading up to that were the fingerprints of God as He worked on my life. I grew up in the church and was first introduced to the idea of God in the place I spent majority of my life.
As I was going through one change after another over the past year or so, I realized that God wasn’t taking these places away from me – He was removing me from those places. Having understood the idea that I’m not at home where God isn’t present, I know that home can’t be taken away from me as long as I’m pursuing the Lord. As I unpacked my boxes in my new room in my new house, the sinking realization came that someday, I’m going to be uprooted once again and planted somewhere else. God’s going to remove me from the new job I’ve once again found comfort in and the house that I’m starting to call home, but He’s going to bring me where He needs me to be. He’s going to do this over and over again until I’m truly Home – at His side, where I belong, and where He’s ultimately going to bring me.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.” -Psalms 127: 1-2