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?