The Way Back to Kansas


Once upon a time, I found myself in a foreign land far from home. I didn’t know the language. I didn’t know what the social norms were. And there was zero part of me that wanted to learn. 

Sometimes, life will carry you to unfamiliar territories of grief and new, unwanted realities. The saddest, heaviest part is that first waking moment of the morning. When you awake from your slumber to a heavy heart and the bitter taste of your unwanted circumstances. It’s that crushing realization that it wasn’t just a bad dream. It was an event that really did happen and now you’re left to learn how to carry it somehow. 

When that tornado ripped through my life and carried me far from my own Kansas, I used to imagine those ruby red slippers Dorothy wore. I could see her in the memory of my little girl heart that must have watched the film a hundred times. I could see her clicking her heels and repeating, “there’s no place like home.” I wished it were that easy. That somehow clicking my heels would wake me from my own bad dream. That I would awake and be back in Kansas and with the people that make my world feel like home. 

Maybe you’re still in your own Kansas. What I know about Kansas (or at least the part I’ve been to) is that it’s flatter than a pancake. Sometimes life can feel that way. Flat and monotonous. I am all for switching routines up. Driving a different route home. Venturing to surrounding areas I haven’t been to. But let’s be honest. We all have routines and daily practices that sometimes feel monotonous. Same wake up time. Take the dog out. Make the coffee. Shout for the fifteenth time for my teenage son to wake up. Shout again, and this time with a threat attached. My husband and I eat takeout from the same pizza place every Tuesday evening. And we get the same exact thing every time. Sometimes I feel embarrassed when I call our order in. I imagine the girl answering the phone times our call every Tuesday evening and announces that the Davis’s are calling again

But let me tell you something. I love this routine and sometimes monotonous life. It’s all of these ordinary moments that make a beautiful life. And I promise you that if yours is ever interrupted or stripped away, you will agree. It’s so easy to take the routine for granted and it's the thing we miss the most when it’s gone. 

Maybe you find yourself in the aftermath of a tornado that has leveled your life and left you feeling far from your own Kansas. 

Maybe your life has been disrupted. 
Maybe your heart has been broken. 
Maybe the divorce was the last thing you wanted. 
Maybe the death was the last thing you expected or feel equipped to survive. 
Maybe the future looks like a million scattered and unknown pieces that will never be whole again. 

Take heart. Don’t you dare give up

Recent news has been that the ruby red slippers Dorothy wore in Wizard of Oz were stolen from a museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota thirteen years ago and have finally been recovered by the FBI. Yes of course, my first thought was wondering why the FBI was involved in such matters, all things of our current world considered. 

But here’s another thought: 

You will be found too. That lost, scattered, and broken part of you will be returned home. Somewhere on the yellow brick road of your journey, you will gain knowledge, heart, and courage like you’ve never had before. Not in some Pollyanna “everything happens for a reason” way of thinking. I don’t buy that. It brings no lasting comfort to a broken heart. We live in a fallen world. But our pain isn’t all loss and it isn’t wasted. 

Once I learned that, I embraced the journey through my foreign land. I learned the language of the other inhabitants. I learned their social norms and their names. I learned that they also did not want to be in this place of shattered dreams. I was not as alone as I thought. 

You will eventually find your way back to Kansas. Back to home, and comfort and wholeness. I promise you will. It may look different than it once did and you may look different too. And that’s okay. There is no place like the home you will find within your own heart. A place of knowing who you are deep down. Strong and resilient.

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