Leaving Home. Finding Home. Being Home.

One of the hardest questions for me to answer is, “Where are you from?”

Are you asking where I was born? I was born in Wilson, North Carolina, but I never lived there.

Are you asking where I graduated from high school? I graduated in New Bern, North Carolina, but I only lived there for five years.

Are you asking where I lived the longest? I lived in Fayetteville, North Carolina the longest, but my family isn’t from there and I don’t have any ties there now that I’ve left it.

But one of the charms of living all over Eastern North Carolina, is that I know all of the area pretty well. I can get from Fayetteville to New Bern on back roads at 3 AM, practically with my eyes closed. Needing to use a map in my lifetime has been rare. And I lived thirty-four and a half years without ever needing to use a GPS.

51 weeks ago, I got into my car equipped with more than a dozen maps and a GPS, and I left home. For the first time in my life, I drove myself out of the Carolinas, heading almost 3000 miles from home. And you’d better believe I utilized those maps. They were practically my Bible for the trip west. And once I got to my new home in the Pacific Northwest, my GPS became my best friend. For a while, I couldn’t go a block without it.

Similarly, all of my life, I’ve stayed pretty close to “home” in my beliefs. For years, I knew exactly how to handle most of the situations and people I came face to face with, because I essentially dealt with the same people and situations over and over again.

But then, I left home.

And what I learned was that I don’t know how to read maps nearly as well as I thought I did.

And I don’t listen to the GPS so well sometimes.

But I do have a pretty darn good sense of in-born direction, so I never get too far off track.

And I’ve learned not to panic when I get lost, because eventually, if I drive long enough, something is going to look familiar enough to lead me back to familiar territory. And if not, there are plenty of people I can call to come lead me home.

Jonah didn’t just leave home. He looked at the map God gave him, and he bought a ticket to go as far in the opposite direction as he could. I’ve heard it said that “when you run from God, you go nowhere.” But I like the way that Andy Stanley said it better. He said that when people run from God, “they run to the strangest, most dangerous places and make the most nonsensical decisions.”

I’ve done a little of that, too. When I was 18, I decided I’d played it safe long enough. I started dating a guy nine years older than I was, and one weekend, I decided I was a big enough girl to lie to my parents and drive three hours away from home to party with my boyfriend. It was one of the single most stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life, with consequences that have reached all the way to today. It was definitely “strange” and “dangerous” and “nonsensical,” to borrow Andy Stanley’s words.

I was really fortunate. Lucky. Blessed. The painful consequences of the emotional brick wall I ran into were enough to tell me that I didn’t want to run away from God anymore. I was more than ready to run back to the safe, sheltered place I called “home.”

So, now I’m in a different place that I call “home.” It’s not always safe. It’s not always sheltered. It doesn’t always feel comfortable. But it’s home because He’s here with me. His grace is here with me. His grace is my home. Always has been. No matter where I’ve laid my head.

This post is part of our weekly discussion on Andy Stanley’s book, “The Grace of God.”  You don’t have to read the book to stick around and chat with us, though! If you have read the chapter and written a response, please link up at the widget below. And also run by my co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen’s place, and join the chat there, too!

About Sarah Salter


  1. Barbara says:

    You gotta explain the “No ties to Fayetteville” part…. ??? All in all I think you done pretty good for yourself, being from the “South”… Being from North Carolina… Dont you think… Love ya.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Barbara, there’s nothing in Fayetteville that would be reason enough for me to come back. No family there. No home there. No job there. No roots there.

  3. “His grace is my home” I LOVE that!
    No better place to be than in the arms of God.
    Oh, and He’s the best GPS ever!

  4. Getting ready for a move myself, I’m definitely with you, Sarah! I have several “homes” in the earthly sense as far as regions go, but I can be at home anywhere because I was made for another home entirely and I can live there (or live from there) now. Good stuff. Congrats on almost of a full year in the Pacific Northwest–that’s awesome. 🙂

  5. Sarah, it took a while, but it finally dawned on me what it means to be strangers and aliens here. I was born in California, raised in Massachusetts, called Virginia home for twenty-odd years, and have been living here in the mid-west for a while now – but none of these places *are* home. California was pretty when I went back to visit or to work, but it isn’t a place *I* would want to live (unless it was San Francisco or farther north – but I’ve never even seen that country). Massachusetts, like Minnesota and South Dakota – nice, pretty in their own way, but winter is too cold and hangs on too long for me to call it home. Virginia is where my children were born, and while I still have friends there, it no longer is home. Heaven is home, and those of us who are His will never be at home here – settle down someplace for a while, maybe, but call it home? Naaah 🙂

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