Prior to our home assignment in 2012, I daydreamed about the places I could go that had been favorites before life overseas: strolling down the sparkly-clean aisles of Target, walks at a best-loved park, cups of steamy drinks at my favorite cafe. I imagined myself sitting relaxed and smiling, wearing winter clothes for the first time in years, chatting over coffee with girlfriends, so much to share.
The truth is, things were not the same, coming back “home.” Our life was not the same as it was in the post-college, pre-kids era, with lazy evenings out for drinks and chatting. In addition to our erratic travel and speaking schedule, coffee out with two under two was much more difficult in this new season.
Our growing family was not the only thing that was different. We had been away for five years. My husband and I were not the same people we had been. Our friends’ lives had continued moving in the same direction together, and our life had veered sharply in another. After months of eagerly anticipating deep fellowship and renewed relationships, I found myself struggling with where my “place” was, often feeling on the outside and out of the loop. This feeling was not entirely foreign to me, of course. It is just that, on the field, where I was not from the same culture and language of most people, it was easier to be an outsider. I did not expect that I could fully fit there, so I did not mind as much when I felt that way.
It felt different, though, to be in a place I used to belong only to realize that somehow I no longer fit there any more either. It caused an ache and longing that caught me off guard and prompted a strange sort of grieving in my heart.
When would I live in a place where I could truly be understood, and belong?
The crumpled pages of the Scriptures opened in my hands, and these words bring comfort and hope…
They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16, The Message)
Homesickness, loneliness, the seemingly endless cycle of transition, and being a stranger on earth. One day all these things will cease and I will be rejoicing in the City God has ready for me in heaven country. I will be there, one hundred percent at home, completely belonging, maybe even with a cup o’ joe in hand!
Question to consider: How have you dealt with the struggle to find your “place” and “feeling on the outside and out of the loop”?