Stranger Things Season 2: Home
As season 2 of Stranger things took us back to the nerdy 80's world of Hawkins, it ran the gamut with the Mind Flayer, introduced Demi-dogs, Max and her shirtless mullet-haired brother, the overall thing that stayed with me through the story was the concept of "home." The theme of home, specifically to Eleven, was something that was woven through the entire arch of the story, and I think it helped make it a solid installment of the Netflix drama.
El went through so much as a character in season 1. Seeing her trying to actually find a balance and a place to belong was an undertaking in itself. She was looking for where she truly fit. She didn't want to be something just wedged into someone else's world. Instead, she wanted to actually be a real part of life. She wanted to find out not only who she was, but where she belonged. It seemed at every stop of her journey, someone was telling her where her home was. When Hopper rescued her and took her to that Evil Dead looking cabin, he worked so hard to not only make her safe, but to build some semblance of a life. He told her that the cabin was now her home. More than the cabin, but that the cabin with him, hiding from the world, living in secrets, and separated from everything was her home. Not that Hopper wasn't a good father or that the cabin wasn't a fine structure, but when a place being home means you are cut off from everything else, it's hard to truly see it as a place you belong.
Hopper did his best while still operating out of fear. He kept her from the friends that had made her life worth living. He hid secrets about her past that would have helped her further understand who she really was. Every chance he had of truly making that place a home with her initially was sabotaged because he was so bent of keeping her alive that he was refusing to let her live.
Even with Aunt Becky and Mama, Eleven was once again told where her home was. Aunt Becky was obviously much less receptive and desiring to make her home with Eleven, and I understand that. Eleven's trippy blindfold escapades with Mama are a bit weird and concerning. Even though Becky expressed that this place was now Eleven's home, she was never going to let Eleven have any sense of comfort or intimacy. She made it clear that Eleven's presence was an interruption on her life, and that would only make things more complicated. It took Becky no time at all to turn on Eleven and call in the reinforcements. Even with blood relatives, a home built around lies is hard to do. And, as we well know, friends don't lie. Even if Becky hadn't betrayed her, it wasn't going to be a place that Eleven could ever really be home.
Kali, El's sister, also tried to create a home for Eleven. She brings El into the circus of misfits that is her hodgepodge family. Kali of course had some ulterior motives, but she also genuinely was happy at the concept of having a sister. She
says, “I just feel whole, like a piece of me was missing and now it’s not.” She builds their base for home on their shared experience, their mission for the future, and vengeance. Kali, like Hopper, tells El that his is her home now and where she belongs. El was prone to believe her and hope for the future of what her home and family could be, but again, no family or home is unflawed. Like Hopper's home was tainted with fear and isolation, Kali's home was tainted with violence, bitterness, and vengeance. Part of it felt right to Eleven, but there were equal elements that showed her that even though part of her heart belonged there, it wasn't where she truly needed to be.
One of the themes we see in our own life so often is that we are looking for our own home. Not like a residence, but we are constantly looking for the place we truly fit in and the place we truly belong. We are looking for that place, that situation, that environment, and those people that make us feel like this is where we are meant to be. We want a place we are welcomed and accepted above all else. It's so hard to find. None of the places El came across in her travels felt like home. The only place that really felt like home to her had been with Mike in her little tent fort surrounded by friends because everywhere she went she felt like she was being used or manipulated. Even when we are surrounded by people who may love us, the wrong actions and motives can make that place feel like it's not home. The people that love us, the people that commit to
us, and the people that stand by us make any place feel like home.
I grew up in a tiny town in N.C. called St. Pauls. I lived there my whole life till I moved into my first home as an adult. I went to elementary, middle, and high school there. I was the town paperboy. I won awards in my community. My first kiss was walking a girl home from school there. It was my home for almost 20 years. Now, my mom has died. My father and grandmother are gone, too. The things that made that town my home are gone. I sold the house and haven't looked back. When I pass by or have errands to run in that town, I have memories there, but it doesn't feel like home.
My home now is the place I live with my wife and my daughters. My home now is with my church family and my comicon family. It's something we are all looking for and isn't bound to just one location. I think these verses show what we are looking for:
"But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” - Ruth 1:16-17 I think this is what we are all looking for. I think this is what Eleven was looking for, too. She had seen what it looked like to have people that were willing to fight for her, to sacrifice for her, and to even die for her. She wanted that again. Everywhere she looked for all the other "home" options, she was looking for what she had already briefly experienced with her friends. While each "home" had a compelling reason to stay, her friends are what made where she lived worthwhile. The above Ruth passage is often quoted in romantic situations or weddings, but this passage was between friends, between family, and that commitment that was made out of pure selfless love. We are looking for that from others and need to be that for others as well. Be good to the people who make a place home; commit to them and make your friendship a home for them as well.
Jesus looks at His relationship with us the way that Eleven and Ruth looked at the people in their lives that created home for them. Jesus says in John 14:23, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Jesus states that His home is going to be in the hearts and lives of the people that love Him and obey Him. He doesn't say that He will make His home in the temple or in a specific geographic location or amongst a certain culture. He said that when we love Him and obey Him, that relationship of surrender, adoration, and obedience becomes our foundation to the doorway into Jesus making His home with us.
Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and their relationship with Eleven made her know that inside their friendship was where she could make her home. As Eleven said to the bus lady once she finally made this realization, “I’m going to my friends. I’m going home.” The way we worship Jesus with our heart and actions is the indicator that we actually desire Jesus to make His home within us. Think about that. The God of all creation wants to make His home with us. We show that we want that with our actions. On the reverse of that though, just like Hopper, Kali, and Becky, our actions can also show that we aren't ready to be a home. Clinging to sins and choosing our own selfishness over obedience can be as ugly as Hopper and Eleven's fight. Our open intentional disobedience towards God makes it clear that our love is more words than action, and He isn't our priority.
Please understand that finding friends in this world that make it feel more like home is important, but if we make people feel like home and reject making God home in our lives, we are truly missing out. Give God the love and devotion you hope to find in others and watch how He pours out on you. There are a lot of us who feel like God is distant from us and far away. The reality is the only thing keeping Him away is the fact we don't actually care, or our actions tell Him that He isn't welcome.
We are all lost in this world. We are all looking for home. We can find a taste of it in the people that love us, but we find our true home in the presence of the God who loves us, created us, and redeemed us. Come home, and be home.