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So … I’m homeless.

I recently visited my family in Gulfport, Mississippi (where I grew up) and a reality hit me: I began to realize that I don’t really consider that place to be my home anymore.

I mean, I moved away from Mississippi to the Baton Rouge, La., area 10 years ago, so that’s understandable, right? But the thing is, I don’t consider Baton Rouge/Port Allen to be home either. It’s more like a pit stop on my way to wherever home is.

Wherever home is.

It really started to sink in when I was at “home” in Mississippi and visited the church I grew up attending. The same thing happened during this trip that happens each time I go back – people see me and talk to me; they ask questions about how life is going, what I’ve been doing, why I’m not married yet… And then the kicker (it always comes), “When are you moving back here?”

To which I either reply with something like a “never” or a silent shrug accompanied by an eye-roll.

That may seem harsh to some. But truly, I don’t plan to go back. It’s not home.

Home is a place where your main sources of inspiration and support exist. Now sure, I have family and friends in Mississippi, but I’ve come to understand most of my inspiration comes from many places (everywhere, really) – and I’ve come to realize that sometimes I just have to do life without worrying about having the support of most people around me, or who I grew up around.

If I were relying on the support of others, I would have quit life a long time ago.

So home is nowhere right now (or everwhere?).

I feel like I was created for something big. I have a meaningful purpose. Each time I go home, I’m reminded of where I came from, which is not a bad thing. But it IS a bad thing when the people I once knew and had relationships and friendships with still see me as the same person I was years ago.

I’ve grown exponentially as a person in the last few years, and though I may appear to be the same on the outside, internally, there’s a lot more going on.

Have you ever had a family member – maybe a cousin or grandparent – come to you after not seeing you for years, and expect you to be the same little child you once were?

I have a family photo hanging in my living room. I look at it everyday and see my family; my parents, siblings and their families.

If I remained away from my family for an extended period and only saw that photo, never seeing the growth of my nephews and my niece, my expectations of how they look, speak and act would be drastically misshapen if I expected them to stay the children they are in that photo.

My uncle started calling me “Meatball” when I was around the age of 11, because I was short and chubby. When I turned 13, I hit a major growth spurt and grew six inches in one summer. All my baby fat was gone, and I slimmed up. Throughout the years, I’ve competed on athletic teams, including playing college football – and I’ve maintained a very healthy physique. At one point I was down to a mere 3% body fat.

Through all of that time, and even now when he sees me, that uncle still calls me “Meatball.”

That is not me anymore, and you can tell by my outward appearance.

A change happened in a short amount of time that caused me to no longer be able to identify with an identity that a specific person had for me.

And therein lies the issue – other people have created/maintained identities for me that I, myself, no longer identify with.

And that’s why I have no place to really call home.

It’s why I will not go back to live in Mississippi. I’m a completely different person than I was 10 years ago, but all most see is the 20-year-old prankster who has some talents, a good head on his shoulders and a bit of potential.

More than 10 years ago, I was in a band that recorded two albums. I can remember during the recording process of an album, I was pushing to get members of the band to allow me to sing a particular song (I had been told before recording that I would be singing during this album).

But without a second thought, all my effort was in vain as I was told, “your voice isn’t strong enough for this song,” or “maybe a different song later on.”

But the thing is … It was. I knew my voice would fit the song well, but no one had faith in me other than myself. In the end, my voice went unheard (literally and figuratively).

It was that day that I realized that other people’s opinions and expectations of me were not high, and that in order for me to have true growth in the gifts I believe God gave me, I’d have to cultivate them elsewhere.

And my “home” began to get further and further from the home that I knew.

Fast-forward to the present, and here I am, without a home. But I feel like it’s a great place to be. In my homelessness, I have realized that I have the unique ability to notice when other people are in the same situation, and create a place of refuge.

I have taken notice of people that have become downtrodden from the rigors of work, or church, or simply the expectations of others, and I’ve been able to extend a hand of friendship.

Which brings this post to a head – I now understand that sometimes we go through rough patches in life simply so we can be a place of refuge for other people that are going through those same things.

My Christian mindset tells me that God allowed me to go through certain hurts, pains and pangs by myself because He knew I could handle it alone – and He allowed me to go through things to help others who can’t go through it alone.

So, if nothing else, let this rambling be an encouragement to you. Everyone journey has rough roads, and some even have quicksand. Once you’ve gotten passed your rough road, help others get across as well, and help people to get out of the quicksand so that we can all continue, together, on this wonderful journey of life.

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