I've always had this vague sense of homesickness... At times it gets place-specific: West Michigan, San Diego, New England...and yes, even Africa, tho I've yet to get there. At other times it gets situation-specific - wishing for an actual house of my own, wanting to rearrange my furniture or paint the walls a different color, dreaming about having a family someday. But most of the time it's just sort of vaguely there. I'm homesick. For something. I don't really know what. For heaven, definitely... but for something between now and then, too - something between eternal life as I know it today and eternal life as I'll know it on the other side of death.
I found out yesterday that this might actually be normal.
I'm in this book-study group called Joshua's Army with my church - once a month we read a book and get together and have dinner and talk about the book. The goal of the course is to, as our pastor puts it, graduate us with the right tools in our toolbox to build a solid, God-honoring life and to lead our community well. So to that end, we're reading everything from books on leadership to intercessory prayer to relationships. This month's book for the girls is "Finding Your Purpose as a Mom: How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground" by Donna Otto. I'm not sure I would have ever picked it up. But it's got some good stuff in it, even for those of us who aren't moms. In the chapter I've just finished, she writes about how having a vision for what your home could look like helps you to make the smaller daily decisions that will lead you to it, much the way having a picture to refer to on the front of the puzzle box helps you put a puzzle together, and how each of us will find that we do actually have a vision for what we'd like our home to look like, whether we've thought much about it or not, because God has built an "essential homesickness into every human soul." (p. 36)
You have no idea how relieved I was to hear that. I'm supposed to be homesick.
Ultimately I think that "essential homesickness" she speaks of is really just a deep longing for things to be the way they were always meant to be. Walking with God in the cool of the evening in the Garden He made for us - in the Paradise of God. And we've never known that, actually, tho if we do walk with God we've caught glimpses here and there, and we do have a sense, deep down, that we'll know it when we see it, and it'll be perfect. "It's not supposed to be like this." An old friend and mentor said that when he was preaching once on the way sin wrecks our lives and our need for mercy, and I can still hear him say it... and there are moments in life when that phrase so definitely applies - and we know it's not supposed to be like this because we know it was supposed to be different. Better. Right. And whatever just happened wasn't right. But if we were home... if we could only get home... it would be okay again.
And that's life. Journeying home. Thank God for the journey, and all we learn on it, but, oh, Jesus - thank You that we're on the way to Home... to You. And that You walk with us every step of the way.
It's a strange thing this longing for home I have, tho - because while I've always had it, I've also always had this restless wanderlust - a need to travel, a need to go places and do things and have adventures... as long as I could come back... to somewhere, someone, something I could call home... I've written about it before - in April of 2007 to be exact. And it was funny, re-reading that post - there are parts of it that are still true and parts of it that aren't. I still want to go see the world and write about it... maybe I should go be a travel journalist or something... but that American dream? 2.5 kids and the white picket fence? Not so much anymore...
And that's not something I ever thought I would say.
I've always wanted that. That was my big career ambition. Get married, settle down, have a family, be happy. And then, a couple of years ago, I started coming to terms with my inner Donna Reed, and started to dare to believe that God might actually have something in addition to that for me. But now... I just don't know. It hit me yesterday that even if I got married next year, and had kids straight off (which is SO not likely to happen), I would be 40 when my oldest was in kindergarten. I'd be in my 60s when they started graduating from college... That's not what I wanted. That wasn't the dream....
So maybe it's time for a new dream...? I'm not sure. There's a part of me that doesn't want to let it go at all. That still wants to hope for "happily-ever-after" - or at least the real-life version of it that comes with people being human. But part of me says, "Hap, maybe it's time to just let it go. Go see the world. Do something with your life."
And I am, actually. Being a part of this church plant is incredibly exciting, and I feel like, at least for now, God's said to put down roots here. That these next few years will be incredible and fruitful, and foundational to something else. But that someday, that train I dreamed about last June will pull out of the station, and I will know that it's time to jump off, and who knows what's waiting at that end of that trail? Destiny? Maybe. Tho I think I'm already living into that here. I don't know. All I know is I'm incredibly homesick this morning...and I wish I knew what I was homesick for...