“Go wherever you can,” was their message.
My parents were not the kind to make us stay. They were adventurous travelers, and encouraged my brothers and me to spread our wings and see as much of the world as we could. Homesickness was discouraged in favor of new experiences and new places. Home isn’t going anywhere: this was the unofficial motto of our family. In high school I joined clubs and did activities that would take me away from home.
Ours was a small town like so many others, sheltered and far from the larger, busier world. I cynically thought that no one would leave if they didn’t run as fast they could in the opposite direction, despite home being a pretty nice place. I was free to leave if I wanted to, and I did, right after the summer I graduated. Eventually, life led me away from home for good.
We – my husband and I – are not pioneers. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary by moving away from home. We lived in cities where our jobs took us, finally settling into and building a life within a smallish community not unlike the ones in which we grew up, but still hours away from our families. About half of the people we know are from somewhere else, often even further away. People just don’t stay home anymore.
“Home is where you hang your hat,” goes the saying. It’s true. Most of my immediate life is contained within the walls of our house. The things I need, the people I depend on and who depend on me – they are here. The friends we’ve made, the roads we take to school and to church and to work – they surround home now.
But home is still there, too. Away.
It takes a gathering – most recently, my grandmother’s funeral – for me to really focus on what we’ve built so far away and to become homesick. Familiar faces made strange by time and fading memories are brought to the forefront and remind me what we are missing. Time passes quickly everywhere.
People change and life goes on, and we miss it when we are gone. There’s no way to really catch up, to make up the time that we missed. It’s like we moved away, and everyone was lost.
I worry. I worry that we are far away, and might even move further away someday. I worry that I will miss more, that I won’t be able to help as I could, as I feel I should. I worry about the time I am missing with my parents and siblings, and the other relationships that have been left to weaken and fade.
God teaches us to pray when we struggle and to trust that we are where he placed us for reasons that go beyond our understanding. These truths hold me up, and I am thankful for them. I don’t really need to know why I’m here, and when the feelings of homesickness threaten to take residence in my heart, I am given the reassurance that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
And that even when I feel far away, he is ever so close.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.