Physical + Spiritual Journeys
At the young, adventurous, and naive age of eighteen, you want nothing more than to prove your adulthood and success to everyone, including yourself. To say that you’re homesick would destroy all that and reveal your true vulnerability and struggle.
Yet, there I was sitting in my English 101 classroom staring at my glitter oxford shoes, pondering life, and writing a poem for an assignment in class. The next day, to our surprise, the professor revealed that we would be sharing our poems with the class. Oh dear, I thought, I wrote about glitter, dresses, and growing up. Not the best, I must say.
After I shared (and thought about how I should take this class more seriously) the girl who came up after me looked completely terrified. She didn’t know we were going to share with the class, and she wrote something really personal. She wrote about how lonely she feels at this Christian university, how she hasn’t made many friends, and that she was okay with it. We all really got a piercing view into her mind and soul that day. No one knew how to respond to how honest this girl had been.
Yet I knew exactly how she felt – because I felt the same way.
I admire that girl for being bold and actually writing a poem about her true feelings and thoughts. It made me feel like a coward, disguising my true homesick feelings with a nonstop happy facade. The plan was to attend college for the next four years (full of chapels, pep rallies, and dorm activities), receive my BSN in nursing, get that ring by spring, and then have all my roommates as my bridesmaids/lifelong best friends.
Oh, how very wrong I was. What was it that foiled my perfect plan? I was terribly, terribly homesick. I missed the familiarity of high school – always having someone to eat lunch with and endless hangouts after school. I missed having my own room where I could freely be an introvert without anyone peering in. I missed having my car to take me wherever I wanted, and I even missed my family. Simply, I missed how easy my life was.
Luckily, my college was 45 minutes away from home. So grown up, eh? I went home every other weekend. The weekends I didn’t go home, I forced myself to stay in the dorms so I could soak up the full college experience.
Those were some of the darkest moments of my life.
I couldn’t handle it. My roommates went home every weekend and so did the majority of the university. I joined the popularity contest on Facebook and posted all my “I’m having the time of my life!” photos, when, in reality, I couldn’t wait until it was the weekend so I could go back home. Don’t get me wrong, there were parts of college that I absolutely loved, and I gained some wonderful friends and life experiences I couldn’t get anywhere else. Yet, my joy was constantly being robbed and I didn’t know why.
At the time it was so frustrating. Why is nothing working out here? Why do I feel so completely empty and unaccomplished here? It felt like I was running in place, doing the exact same things over and over again but trying to get somewhere different.
God is so good, though. He loved and guided me through this long trial of my life, though not in the way I wanted.
I wanted God to work everything out while I was at school, but He didn’t. Instead the feeling to move back home for good grew stronger and stronger as the year progressed. But even as I returned home, I didn’t feel at home anymore. Something changed, and I couldn’t pinpoint it.
Great. So, God reveals Himself to me personally in high school and reveals all these amazing things to me then just ditches?
One day I was reading my Bible, desperate for an answer. (Sadly, I had turned to prayer and the Bible as a last resort.) A verse caught my eye, resonated in my heart, and then scared the heck out of me. It was the story of Samson and Delilah in Judges 16:20. After Delilah lulled Samson to sleep and cut off his hair (the source of his strength), “she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, as other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him” (NKJV).
The enemy knew my weaknesses, which were the familiar comforts I had at home. After those were cut off, I hadn’t realized until reading this passage that the Lord had departed from me. My relationship with Him wasn’t a real one. I wasn’t obeying His commands or putting God as a priority in my life. God draws near to those who draw near to Him (James 4:8), and I certainly had not been drawing near.
The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind that His presence had departed from me, because I knew I had departed from Him. I hadn’t exactly turned to drinking, drugs, or rebellion, but I definitely wasn’t seeking God’s will for my life. For God’s will, is where any Christian will feel most at home. My soul missed having Jesus at home in my heart, as the center of it all. I had replaced Jesus with myself, forcing Him out of the focus of my life. Jesus never left my side, though.
I can’t help but look back and see God’s hand of protection over my life and His unfailing love.
I can confidently say I am no longer homesick. Christ is dwelling within me. I am learning that wherever I go in life, physically or spiritually, I will never feel more at home than in the presence of the Lord. One day, my faith will become sight as I’m standing face to face with my Savior. Until then, I rely on the Holy Spirit to lead me in this life focused on Jesus and on accomplishing the Father’s will.
When I truly place my faith in Jesus, I feel right at home in the family of God.