I just want to go home.
It’s a thought that has crossed my mind recently more often than I would have expected. My husband and I have been settling into a new city for the past five months, and the transition has come slower than we might have liked. In fact, due to a handful of circumstances that aren’t worth the time to explain, we’ve had to move three times, my health has been in decline, and we haven’t had the chance to find much of a community since we arrived.
In the midst of it all, I’ve often fallen back upon this same refrain inside my head—let’s just go home.
I have to chuckle because, for all intents and purposes, this place we’re at now is our home. We’re married, we’ve moved on from our childhood and college lives, we have jobs here, and we’re now legal residents of the state of Georgia.
So why is it that I continue to long for something else beyond this?
I think it’s the same reason why so many of us cherish the holiday season so much. As soon as the weather starts to change, we break out all the scarves and blankets and lattés we can find. The leaves start to fall, and we almost forget about Thanksgiving in our haste to decorate our homes for Christmas and put up the tree. But why are the holidays so wonderful, and so full of warmth for many of us? It’s because of family, because of tradition, because of stability—and the feelings of home that bubble up from this.
Thoughts of home stir up a longing for comfort, for warmth, for security. It’s a place we envision without troubles, with those we love, rooted in family. It’s a place where we feel heard, known, valued, and protected. Some of us have been lucky enough to know these things in this life. Others among us only dream of it.
But is home a place that any of us will ever find in perfection on this earth?
I would argue that we never will. We spend so much of our lives pining after what we don’t have and longing for what’s coming next—whether that’s three years from now when we finally settle down and have a family, or five years from now when we finally have the experience to get the job we’ve been eyeing, or ten years from now when we’re financially secure and can finally move into our dream home.
That word finally is so dangerous because it makes us—as well as the chance for our deepest longings to be fulfilled—ultimately finite. It places our end and our being in those things we will have finally achieved. It promises us the stability and fulfillment of those feelings of home that we deeply long for, but it promises them in a way that we can someday reach on our own.
The truth, though, is that we never will.
If you’re like me, you might be so easily swept away in these thoughts that you don’t even realize you’re wishing your life away, day by precious day that the Lord has given you to be spent in useful and glorifying ways.
Richie Sessions, RUF campus minister at Vanderbilt University, has said much on this subject, but there’s one line of his that I have never quite been able to shake from my head. It goes something like this: “Why do you think we go to the beach every year on vacation, just to sit there and stare out at the vastness and beauty of the ocean? It’s because we’re all just longing to go home.”
We’re all just longing to go home—to our heavenly home. The only way that we can learn to be content with our earthly experiences of home—even when we’re unsettled, lonely, uprooted, disappointed, or left wanting—is to know that we will always be longing for something greater in this life, and it’s something that we won’t find here, no matter how many finallys we dream of, and no matter how hard we try. Rather, we must redirect our longings toward the home that we will have in glory—and that’s one that won’t disappoint.