When I was small I would often stay with my grandparents overnight, and at first, I would get very very homesick. I love my grandparents a lot, but as a young child, I wanted my familiar routine. I wanted to have the same things happen with the same person, night after night. And when I got a disruption in that I felt a strong yearning to go home.
I experienced this again, in the first few weeks and months of my time at uni. I wanted again to be somewhere I knew, understood, felt comfortable in.
But from that time at uni, I experienced something else. This yearning that I had suddenly went deeper than I had ever before realized. It became a fundamental understanding that rocked my world.
As a Christian, we know this world isn’t our own. We know we don’t truly belong here, but although many people struggle with not making this world our home, I know all too well that it isn’t. I know this because I feel homesick. Now you may push back and say how can you be homesick from a place you’ve never been, from someone you’ve never physically met.
My answer to this comes from the fundamental knowledge that God is our creator, and as Christians, we are told that we don’t belong here. So to illustrate what I mean I am going to use an analogy.
Imagine that you are moving to a house but the house isn’t ready for you yet, so you’ve been given a room in a hotel to be your ‘home’ until it’s ready for. The catch is you don’t know when the house will be ready, you don’t know when you will be called home.
There is a spectrum of what you will do in this situation (when my mum and I actually go to a hotel, she unpacks everything, while I just live out of my suitcase). Some people will not only unpack, but they will also hang pictures on the wall and change the bedding, they will act as if the hotel is the permanent home. They know they are moving but it isn’t in the forefront of their mind. They don’t think about it ever really. They make a temporary place a permanent home.
Then there are others (and I fall into this category), who even though they know they could be in the hotel for years they don’t unpack. They live out of their suitcase to the point that they don’t even put their toothbrush into the bathroom, because what if they forget it. They are so focused on this new house, and more importantly the family they will be reunited with they find it difficult to think about anything else.
They become so focused they want to get their now, they don’t want to wait. They know they don’t belong there so much, that they will do whatever possible to get there now. Even though they know it’s not time yet.
This is how I feel. I know this is not my true home. Here there is suffering, there is brokenness everywhere, poverty, war, constant striving, broken relationships, and mental illness. I don’t want to be in a place that has this much brokenness. I know that my friends and family know that, my God knows that.
And this may be difficult to hear, especially for those who love me, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be homesick. No matter how homesick I become I know I have a purpose here. And that’s one benefit of feeling homesick, of having depression and having had suicide attempts that didn’t work. I know that Jesus will keep me here as long as he wants me to be here until my work here is finished.
I have a laser focus on what I am doing here. I know that I’m to speak up in my suffering, to stand here in the middle of intense suffering to say God is still good, he still loves me and he is still my God.