What If Your Childhood Was a Train Wreck?


“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” That’s what John Edward Pearce said. But what if your childhood was a train wreck? What if your memories of home are more akin to The Shining than The Waltons? It doesn’t matter. Home is not just a place; it’s a knowing in the soul, a vague premonition of a far-off country that we know exists but haven’t seen yet.”—Ian Morgan Cron in Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, p.3.

What if…

“…your childhood was a train wreck?”

“…your memories of home are more akin to The Shining…?”

…you grew up in poverty?

…your parents fought? A lot!

…they divorced?

…and the settlement’s aftermath proved toxic?

…you came from school every day to an empty apartment?

…you started each childhood year in a different school?

…he beat you?

…she abused you?

…you have no happy recollections of home?

“It doesn’t matter.”

Home is not just a place; it’s a knowing in the soul, a vague premonition of a far-off country that we know exists but haven’t seen yet.—Ian Morgan Cron

Every heart hungers for HOME.

The hunger can’t be denied…

…controlled…

…ignored…

…buried…

…forgotten…

…abandoned…

…satisfied…

…in this world.

We experience hints of HOME’s reality

…in the smell of a fresh sea breeze…

…in an unblemished sky…

…in the crunching of autumn leaves…

…in a baby’s laughter…

…in the taste and texture of warm-out-of-the-oven bread…

…and Godiva chocolates…

…and fresh guacamole…

…in romance…

…and beautiful music…

…and joyous dance…

…and …

…and…

…and…

…a myriad delightful ways.

So what can we say about the hints, desires, and glimpses?

1.)    Home hovers as an insatiate desire near our hearts. No matter how bad our home life is, we still dream about a special home and search for a better place. No matter how good it is, we still long for something both more and different.

2.)    Because the home desire remains unsatisfied, we respond in a number of ways. We change jobs. We change partners. We change addresses. We work harder. We play harder. We run, run, run away. For a week…a month…a lifetime. And as long as we believe the perfect home is just one more choice away, we continue on whatever path we’ve chosen.

3.)    But when we realize we don’t have a wiggling worm’s chance in a flock of robins of satiating our home hunger, we come to life’s two ultimate responses—despair and hope. One turns inward. The other upward. (Brilliant analysis, Mr. Spock.)

Based on Ian’s statements and my own observations, I want to place some questions into the conversational arena.

What choices do you make as you pursue the idea of HOME or, as Ian puts it, “a vague premonition of a far-off country”? What has been your “one more choice”?

What is your ultimate response—despair, hope, or somewhere in between?

If hope, why? (Yeah, I know the dreaded open-ended why question.)

Related article: A Glimpse of “Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me”

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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2 Responses to What If Your Childhood Was a Train Wreck?

  1. Mary Jeffries says:

    Is that longing what keeps you getting up in the morning? I spent a lot of time in the last few years really focused on the eternal home, because so much of what was happening in life had left me with little joy in my home here on earth. Now don’t get me wrong, I was not suicidal, just longing to be where God was, where LOVE was, true love. Then God sent someone to love me. Love me here and now. To bring joy to my life now.
    Do I still want to go “home” someday? Yes! But now I have a reason to make the home I have more of a home, because I look forward to sharing it with someone who loves me. So is home about where you feel LOVE? They say Home is where the heart is……and the heart of the Father, and our Brother is filled with love. Is that what we are really seeking? MJ

    • TNeal says:

      I believe even the best of places and people in this world cannot satisfy a deeper craving for community. They can point us in the right direction, give us reason to be thankful to God, and refuel our sense of hope, but they can’t fulfill our eternal longing for something greater.

      And, like you, I think about our future HOME but it’s not based on a last-resort-life-is-awful-here feeling. Just the simple fact that God has placed eternity in our hearts.

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