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Feeling Strange This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to return home. But what do you do if your idea of home has changed? I remember at 18 feeling this way. I had left for college in Chicago and was glad for the independence. Thanksgiving was the first vacation and my parents wanted me home. My two college buddies and I dr…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Thanksgiving is a time to return home. But what do you do if your idea of home has changed?

I remember at 18 feeling this way. I had left for college in Chicago and was glad for the independence. Thanksgiving was the first vacation and my parents wanted me home. My two college buddies and I drove seven hours, stopped for a meal at their house, but kept driving south to the beaches of Mexico.

What if you’ve changed and home hasn’t? The people at home treat you the same, but your journey has not only changed you, it’s made you an instrument of change.

Jesus experienced this after he’d left home. His conclusion? “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.

Homeless, he walks from town to town, making his home with those who are with him. Luke describes his traveling companions:

The Twelve

Some women who had been healed

And many others

God designed us for community, for connection. Maslow describes that need as the third of five needs hardwired into us. When we find those connections, we may call it “home.”

Jesus belonged to two communities – for thirty years he was known as Joseph’s son in the village of Nazareth. And for a few years, he was a traveling rabble-rouser surrounded by the rabble he had roused.

At one point, the two communities awkwardly collide when Jesus’ family comes to see him. Luke tells us that they can’t get close to him because of the crowd. We assume that means physically close, but what Jesus says shows us that it’s more than just proximity: “Who is my mother and my brothers?” He asks. Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Here they are.”

“Ouch,” we think, hoping that perhaps he later debriefed his family in a more private place. It would have been nice to say, “Look, it’s nothing personal – I was just making a point about community.”

As you sit around your Thanksgiving table, you may feel thankful and warm inside, but still a stranger. Jesus knows how you feel. Peter said we are “strangers and aliens here on earth.”

Feeling different and even a little strange in places where we once fit so naturally may be disconcerting to us, but it helps us to recognize the reality that we were made for something more than what we used to call home.

Comments (19)

  • I think Sara Groves sings this best..when she sings “I saw what I saw and I can’t forget it…” Those files in our God given brain move and shake us to grab, capture, embrace the HOPE of Christ and actually “in the end” whatever and however that looks like….leaves us pretty discontented until eternity calls…us HOME…what a day with Jesus that will be…may you find joy and peace with your amazing family. Thanks for saying what many aren’t sure how to. Please greet Karen for me.

  • Seth, why do I feel like I’ve known you all my life? I tweeted a phrase from this post. So very good and true.

  • Seth: spot on. I still experience this with some family, wanting so much to connect, and feeling the lack of depth. It’s then I remember that Jesus reached out first, coming into our (my) world, seeking me, extending grace, patiently reforming my view of reality, and then making me long for something far greater: true ‘family’ and ‘home’ that only be found within His Kingdom among the redeemed. Thanks for this reminder. Hope your Thanksgiving is warm, comfortable, and refreshing.

  • As the Coach for “O” Squad about to head out to our final debrief in the Philippines, I recommend this piece be sent to M, N, and P Squads returning in early December. I shared it with “my” Racers today.
    As the father of a returning Racer from X Squad 2011, I know they are about to experience one of the most difficult times of their eleven month journey when they come home to the US and don’t recognize it as their “home” anymore. Their love for each other has created a new family with deep community that will be nearly impossible to replace. Of course, they can’t wait to be home to see their own families, too!
    Please pray for these returning Racers as they re-enter our culture.

  • I hear you Seth. These sentiments fully express the way I feel during the holidays which unfortunately have now become romanticized and thoroughly saturated with consumer driven messages. The last part of Hebrews 11:13 says it all. We are “strangers and aliens on the earth”. Glad for our thirty year friendship. Peace.

  • Bruce – I pray that your trip to the Philippines goes well. You are truly a missionary as you go. You have a mission that you are going with. God bless.

  • For us it’s a real mixture of everything this year! On so many levels. Siblings, children, parents, grandparents. Connections and growth has become the theme.

  • Seth, it is thoughts like these that remind me that I’m not alone in feeling like an outsider in nearly every area of my life that isn’t revolving around true Christian community. You hit the nail on the head! and I can’t WAIT for the community of second generation Y squad as Sam and I squad lead them! thanks for writing this at the perfect time!

  • I was with you and yours at this time last year and what unforgettable memories. Thanks for welcoming this stranger, now made a son. Give the clan my love as you gather today. Thanks for these insightful words.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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