How many American flag-themed décor items are appropriate to have in any given room? Asking for a friend. It’s me, actually. I have at least six in my living room but there are some empty spots on the wall, so I could still add more.
I love America. I’ve served her both in the military and as a spouse to a soldier-turned-diplomat. I’ve given up years of my life to be deployed and to be a solo-parent when it was my husband’s turn to go. I’ve given crisp salutes to officers at the Pentagon and pushed my kids’ strollers past guards in embassies overseas.
Though I obviously love my country, and our flag, my ideas of what it means to be American are ever-evolving and I’d sway a little if you asked me to pin it down to just one thing.
As a child, I loved looking at world maps, noticing the difference in the green of America and the brown and tan of “over there.” I’d study the maps in my Bible, tracing first the Israelites’ journey, then the ministries of Jesus and Paul in the Holy Land. Maybe it’s because my dad’s family is genetically linked to those 12 wandering tribes, or maybe it’s because my mom is a travel agent who showed me how big the world is, that my heart has leaned outside American borders as long as I can remember. I boarded my first international flight when I was 14 and have yet to be cured of my wanderlust.
For me now, far-off cities contain rugged and beautiful memories. The dark-robed women are real people with names and voices, not just images used for comparison. My son even has a birth certificate in a language I can’t read or speak, a lifelong memento of the dusty land where he took his first breath. I’ve been homesick and had culture shock on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
I didn’t expect to have any issues adjusting back into American culture when we recently moved back to Washington, D.C. from three years in the Middle East, but my country changed while I was gone. There’s no denying the tension, dissatisfaction, and division in America today, especially potent here in the capital.
I’m thankful to be “home,” but I’ve changed, too. I even question the idea of “home,” as my sense of belonging isn’t as strong as I remembered it and I’m more restless than ever.
God’s Word is giving me answers, directing me once again to look up from and out of my American setting. Philippians 3:20 says I’m a citizen of heaven. I’ve been a citizen of one place while living in another, so I relate, but what about my “it’s complicated” feelings about America?
Psalm 24:1 says,
The Earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.
God is a loving Father and He doesn’t play favorites with His children.
My patriotic credentials might be as legitimate as they come, but the deeper I go into God’s Word and the more stamps I add to my passport, I increasingly see my homeland as a piece of the world. It’s a wonderful, multi-colored, jumbled piece, but still just a part of a much bigger picture.
My time in America, or any country, is only a temporary assignment. I’m here as an ambassador of heaven, if you will. I can love America, enjoy her freedoms, and pray for her blessing, but my citizenship or residency here isn’t my “factory setting.” This gives me so much hope as I watch the world seem to crumble around me, making it hard to get solid footing in any one place for too long. I wasn’t created to be here permanently, nor was this world ever meant to be my permanent home.
Jesus told us in John 14:2 that He himself is preparing our home in heaven.
I’m not sure how many flags, if any at all, He will hang on those walls, but I’m sure it will be absolutely perfect.