two girls walking down a dirt lane
Encouragement Hope Suffering

Why Our Longing for Home Never Goes Away

“Are you going home for the holidays?” This is a question I hear from some of the sweet people in our new state. 

We all long for home. And that sense of home can be elusive, and almost hard to recognize until it’s threatened. My relationship with the concept of home is complicated and full of both loss and riches. I doubt I’m the only one. 

One example: Just when we thought we were rooting ourselves deep into our home state, we ended up moving to South Dakota, and leaving not only our communities but both of our families “back home.” It painfully felt like the death of something beautiful and good, even while new things were being borne for us. Leaving “home” was one of the hardest things we’ve done. This is how life is – the death of some dreams and hopes and the growth of new ones. 

It’s been almost three years since our out-of-state move, and we feel incredibly blessed to move into a new little home surrounded by a national forest and we are still unpacking boxes. Being up in the hills is helpful for my health, and I am gobsmacked at how beautiful it is up here. 

Buying a house also brings up painful memories as the only other house we owned ended up being a significant trigger for my scary ill-health, as it had hidden mold issues. I’m still learning what it means to have had our home make me incredibly sick, including sending me to the ER multiple times. My health is still recovering. It has complicated our relationship with home and created a sense of uncertainty. This is an extra burden we carry now, infused into our sense of home. 

There are other ways that our sense of being rooted in a location has been challenged. Both my husband and I have seen our parents sell their houses and properties and move on in life. It was a strange thing to realize that your family house, that you grew up in, was no longer there for you to return to. We saw the wisdom in this decision for both sides of our families, but also experienced a sense of loss. Nothing in life can be grasped too tightly. 

After we moved from our moldy house, forced to get rid of many of our belongings, I found that it didn’t take much to make a cozy space. I also learned through that experience that I don’t mind an uncluttered (that is, with little in it) house, but that my children, having lost so much previously, now hold on tightly to all of their beloved toys and belongings. (So our house certainly isn’t minimalist anymore!)

We have furniture, books, belongings, and even a piano. And they fill our home out, but love is what made the difference. 

Love is enough, yet love can only buffer losses, not take them away. Love can fill up your life, but it won’t take away the realities of your home and its limitations too. Love creates a sense of longing when you live far away from your loved ones. Love didn’t prevent our water-damaged house from seriously impacting my health. Love doesn’t take away the feeling of uncertainty that bad or unsafe neighbors or neighborhoods can cause. But love does create a sense of belonging despite all of those realities. 

As a Christian, I am told that this world is not my home. That this longing I feel for home is God-given, but won’t be perfectly met until Jesus returns, and a New Heavens and a New Earth are made. This is comforting, this thought of being an exile, a stranger, a sojourner. Because it makes sense of how I can feel all of those warm feelings of comfort and joy as I bake bread for my children, read books with them, curl up in a cozy blanket to watch a favorite movie, and see friends laugh around my table, while also sometimes experiencing an unfilled longing still deep in my soul for something more. 

As we unpack our house, I am reminded of the goodness of creating a cozy safe place for our family and a hospitable place to share our home with others. I am reminded to hold on loosely to what I’ve been given. I am reminded that it’s okay to feel the warmth of my earthly home, found with the people I love, while also accepting that deep longing in my heart for my true home. It’s not discontentedness. It’s a gift reminding me that the best is still to come.