I exited Wal-Mart into the bright of day, still stunned by our conversation. The cashier and I had moved one another to tears:
“I left L.A. years ago,” she told me. “Never thought I’d stay here. All my family’s there. I’ve only got my husband here in Texas.” Her smile was strained as she typed in 4-digit codes for fruit. “I miss them so much… I go as often as I can.”
I nodded sympathetically. Of course, she had no idea that I’m preparing to leave *my* L.A.. “Once you leave, you never stop missing it.”
She spoke of the warmth of the beach and the warmth of her family.
I shared with her the only thing I had to give– the things I’d learned in my own experiences of missing home. “It’s tough. But you know, I’ve come to believe that those things– home and family– bring feelings that God means for us to feel. I think He wants us to ultimately realize: our TRUE Home is Heaven. Our true family is the family of God.”
Her eyes widened, and a look of calm overtook her face. She met my gaze. “I think He sent you here to tell me that. I needed to hear that today.” Her smile cracked, and she wiped the corner of her eye. “Look at that, you’ve got me crying.”
My eyes were filled with tears, too, as I smiled. “It’s hard. He’s built into us that wonderful feeling of ‘home.’ But I think we’re ultimately meant to feel that way about Heaven.”
“You’re right. Thank you. That was JUST what I needed to hear today.”
As I walked away, I knew the conversation was meant for me, too.
In our brief exchange, I hadn’t shared that *I’m* about to leave home… again. And it’s never easy. There’s always a piece of us that longs for that warm and “ahhhh” feeling that comes from the landscape, the roads, the familiar faces, the friendly accent– the feeling of home.
But because God tells me that Heaven is my home, the challenge for me is to intentionally let those feelings I possess for the big sky and big hearts of Texas reflect onto the beauty and love I’ll one day know in Heaven… to let my love and longing for this temporary home fuel and (to a vastly greater degree) enlarge my love and longing for my eternal Home.
Ultimately, my words to the cashier were a challenge for my own heart, too.
Consider some of the feelings different people have, in regard to this idea of “home”:
- the ache we feel as we leave the place that’s always been “home”
- (especially as women) the internal drive we have to prepare & nest in our “homes”
- the sometimes life-long loss & bitterness a person feels if “home” has been a confusing or hurtful place
- the sense of “home” in the life of an orphan or refugee is a place always longed-for, but never realized
- how the activities of home are the center of our lives
- the hurrying we feel to make a new house, apartment, or temporary living situation, into a restful, welcoming place
- anticipation and joy at returning “home” after a long time away
- the unsettledness that we feel in other places
- the way we love to make our homes reflect “us”
- the “ahhhhh” feeling that comes with being at home
I’m sure you can think of other instinctive, strong feelings associated with the idea of home.
Each culture, family, life experience, and personality puts their own spin on it, but each in its own way can point us, ultimately, heavenward. Each sensation gives us a glimpse of the delight we’re meant to have in our final HOME. Each facet of this idea of “home” sheds light on what Heaven will one day BE.
The RIGHT feelings–
- the way we feel at ease and relaxed in a place
- the comfort of being with people who love us unconditionally
- the wonder and beauty of God’s creation
- the joy of being with the ones who know us best, and with whom we can be ourselves
- being in a place that suits us, that feels like it was made for us
— give us a glimpse of some of the joys we’ll experience in Heaven.
And even the negative ones that many of us carry in regard to the idea of home–
- feeling uneasy because things weren’t done right
- the sense that we don’t belong
- the idea that things here on earth are broken and hurtful
- the embarrassment that can come from living among people who know all your past mistakes and sin
- the sorrow from missing a place we love
— can point us heavenward and make us long even more for that perfect “home” that will make right what has been broken and hurtful here on earth.
The more “homes” I’ve had, the more homes I’ve packed up and settled into, the more clearly I see the beauty of this. God has given us an internal sense of “home”, pointing us heavenward, making us long more and more for that great place.
- What feelings are evoked in your heart when you hear the word “home”?
- How can/how do those feelings point you heavenward?
6 thoughts on “Feelings of Home”
We moved to WA state from California (near L.A. 🙂 ) when I was about 3 so I don’t remember any other place as home. I grew up in a small but comfortable home until I moved out at 18. But I always thought of that house as Home – it was where my parents were, where the door was always open and I was always welcome. I moved around a bit in my early twenties but settled into a home of my own when my oldest was 8 and I remarried. It was our home and we have been here 12 years. It is where my next 4 children were born (3 literally in the house) and where every married memory has occurred. I can’t imagine leaving it. I always wanted my children to have A Home – one house that they associated childhood with. To know intimately all the nooks and crannies. It was newly built just for us so every fingerprint, every ding, every dent in the floor is ours. It is so cozy and comfortable. It isn’t perfect (HOA fees, hello!) and the yard is too small but it is OURS and I treasure it. Is that what Heaven is like? The place that fits perfectly, where everything (everyone) important lives and where you always want to be?
Dear Jess, as always, your post is honest, and God-focussed. It is hard to keep moving on, isn’t it? We are currently in a different country in sub-Saharan Africa for a month, potentially to come back for longer, and there are all the strange feelings of not knowing the language, being stared at on the streets, not knowing where to get the food we would like etc.
I wrote a bit about this kind of thing a few months ago; I guess it echoes a lot of what you have said but may be helpful. At least, if not helpful, maybe encourages you that you are far from alone. I think its harder for you right now because the reasons you are moving on are tinged with hurt (at least, that is what I have read between the other posts). That’s always harder. Praying that God helps you keep focussed and that your children embrace this as another God-give adventure!
What a sweet conversation with the cashier!
For me, the “home” that I truly long for is my family the way it used to be in the past. But there have been so many events, and each has changed the family and home profoundly. That sense of a happy, wholesome home that I once had has gone now, probably never to return. And it hurts. It has made me long for a heavenly home so much more. My security has shifted from the one I had in my family to a security in Christ and in his promises.
I spent most of my growing up years at the same “home” (building)…our family rarely went anywhere…I don’t think we ever had a family vacation. But I think The Lord began in me early to put a restlessness, or perhaps a better word would be unsettled. God put people in my life that loved missions (both my best friends, one of which wanted to go to china long term) I left home at 17 and didn’t really look back. Sure family was important but I wanted to move forward….during college I visited 4 different countries…after graduating I packed up my little car and moved across the US for gradschool…then God called me to Poland where I would begin a lifelong pull between 2 countries I would always call “home”. God has used all of these things to teach me so very much about holding loosely to the things and people of this world. Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” That phrase has encouraged me so very much. Every move or goodbye in my life has been characterized by tears, and heartache because it’s so important to invest in the people around you…so, leaving hurts! But then Gods grace & comfort washes over me and He whispers a sweet reminder: no matter where he lands me on this earth, it’s only temporary; home is where He holds my heart for eternity! As you move away, my heart is sad to watch you leave but joyful that the same God holds both of our hearts and both of our paths lead home! I love you friend!