Homesickness is one of those strange phenomena every human being experiences at one point or another, yet interestingly, it presents a challenging puzzle to try to define. I fully believe in that age-old cliché “home is where the heart is”, especially during the past four years that I’ve spent in constant transition between my hometown (Nashville) and my “other” home (Lee). If you asked this quiet, close-minded, sheltered freshman if she ever thought that Lee would feel like home upon her arrival to her freshman dorm, she would have probably given a skeptical shake of her head. What I did not realize back then was that home is not defined by latitude and longitude, but by the relationships present and the posture of the heart that are tied to a certain place.
With that in mind, I suppose you could say I have pieces of home scattered in a variety of places, as I tend to leave fragments of my heart wherever I create memories. Nashville, home of my family; Iowa, location of my childhood; Cleveland, site of the most life-changing experiences to date; even the UK, the place that stole my heart after just 17 days of travel (that’s another story for another post). All that these things really have in common is that they are physical places with strong emotions tied to them for various reasons. But when I was driving back to Cleveland Sunday night after a weekend in Nashville, a light bulb went off and I felt a type of homesickness I have never known before.
One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes reads, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This resonates deeply every time I hear it, but I have always struggled to wrap my head around the concept of longing for heaven and eternity, because, quite honestly, I enjoy the life God has given me here. However on Sunday night as I began reflecting on His faithfulness in my life as of late, I was reminded how beautiful God’s plans are when I let go and let Him work. It is remarkable how God tends to surprise me with small blessings that add up to be a rather large reminder of his abounding grace that I don’t deserve at all. Feeling overwhelmingly grateful, I searched through my mind for some way to express to Him just how thankful I was and, much to my dismay, I was at a loss for words. I found myself desperately wishing that He was in the passenger seat next to me so I could look Him in the eyes, truly say thank you and (as cheesy as it sounds) give him a hug or something. But as we all know, we trust in what our eyes cannot see, and even though God was in my car with me, I would not actually be able to physically see Him. Not tonight.
This was the moment where I truly understood what it means when people say they are homesick for heaven. And it was in that moment that I truly understood that nothing in this world will ever truly satisfy me, because even though pieces of my heart are scattered throughout multiple “homes” here, the entirety of my spirit belongs in heaven. As lovely as I have found this place to be, authentic satisfaction only comes from God because we were not designed to settle for anything less than unity with Him. I felt that hollow pang in the core of my being, an aching, something telling me that yes, this life is wonderful, but you are still not complete. Perhaps I never will be, not until I am reunited with my Creator. I don’t know why it took me 22 years to begin to understand this concept, but God knew my heart was wired this way all along. Everyone’s soul yearns for the place we belong, whether they realize it or not.
And you want to know the craziest part about it?
As homesick as we may get for the place we belong, He wants to be near our hearts even more than we would ever find ourselves wanting to be near His. His love for us is just that deep.