My Psalm 73
Long Way Home
What is the reason that we do what we do? Many would respond with the answer that we are constantly trying to better ourselves and so, we do what we can to make that happen. Others might simply say they are following their way of life, their beliefs. Still more are simply doing what they do because it is expected of them; it was taught to them as children and so what they do is not perhaps their own individual expectation but that of their family, their tribe, their community. For the spiritual and faithful, we do what we do in an effort to arrive at our eternal home.
IN a 2011 article for “The Atlantic”, Julie Beck discussed “The Psychology of Home: Why Where You Live Means So Much”. In her article, Beck references environmental psychologist Susan Clayton of the College of Wooster. Clayton maintains that, for many people, their home is part of their self-definition. Their home, exterior and interior, and even the yard are part of the public face people put on. They see their home as an extension of themselves.
However, as Beck notes, people seldom stay in one house forever, especially in Western society. As people gain promotions or change positions to a better job with a higher salary, they often purchase a larger home or move to a perceived better neighborhood. So, if our homes are an extension of ourselves and part of our identities, does the person change when their address changes and seemingly becomes “better” as determined not necessarily by looks but by purchase price? Beck says conventional Western viewpoints would say no. The individual remains unchanged.
Writing about a Hindu pilgrimage, author William Sax explained the Asian view: “People and the places where they reside are engaged in a continuing set of exchanges. They have determinate, mutual effects upon each other because they are part of a single, interactive system.” Wax believes that in Western society a person’s psychology and consciousness are not dependent upon their address or home. “They come from inside – from inside your brain, r inside your soul or inside your personality.” He contrasts this with the south Asian concept that one’s home is not just where one lives; it defines who the individual is.
How does this affect our belief systems? A professor in human geography at the University of Exeter, Patrick Devine-Wright explains one possible effect, based upon Western expectation of growing up, buying a home, and then jumping “through all the hoops that home ownership entails”. “That kind of economic system is predicated on marketing people to live in a different home, or a better home than the one they’re in,” Devine-Wright says.
The endless options available in the real estate market can leave us constantly wondering if there isn’t some place with better schools, a better neighborhood, more green space, and on and on. There is always that nagging question hiding in our subconscious: Could there be a better place out there for me?
If home is where the heart is, then wherever we are is our home because our heart is always with us. For most of us, home may not be where we are from, as it is in the Asian communities Sax discovered. Home is that place [or places] that has meaning, that left a mark on our hearts and, possibly, helped influence our personal identity.
In her article, Beck notes that our personalities are not context-free. We live in both social and physical environments and they have an impact on us. The important thing is to make note of those factors influencing us and strive to live where it is most healthy for us and our belief system. She describes the various places she has called home this way: “Looking back, many of my homes feel more like places borrowed than places possessed, and while I sometimes sift through mental souvenirs of my time there, in the scope of a lifetime, I was only a tourist.”
Whether renting or owning, we all have the chance to own our lives. We need to actively dust out the chaos and clear out the past. We need to walk in the present using our beliefs as our pathway to the future. Above all, we need to remember that we are actively living and residing in ourselves. We should not be tourists in our faith but lifelong residents, wearing the identity of the believer not only in our mind but in our hearts and through our actions.
My Psalm 73
You are my home, dear God.
I walk the days of my life
With you as my compass;
Your teachings are my guide.
I walk in your mercy, Lord
Through the thorns others place before me.
Because I follow my faith,
I expect it to be easy.
It is not, Lord; it is hard.
They mock my faith
And say I should not have tears.
Jesus wept, Lord.
I can expect no less at times.
But you comfort me with your grace.
I walk in your mercy, Lord,
Amidst the treacheries of others.
You lift me up, God, when I stumbled.
As I walk all the way to you,
You are there beside me, holding my right hand,
Leading me to your glory.
By the grace of God,
We walk through the floods of life to the rainbows of heaven.