A thoughtful friend sent me an article this morning. It was kind of her to read it and think of me, and the article itself was true in every way and resonated deeply with me. The author described her uneasiness and her unsettledness in the face of various moves–her realization there would never be a true settledness here, because as a Christian, this world is not her home. So if the post was true (it was) and it spoke to my heart because I relate to so much to the author’s personal experience (it did) then why was it discouraging to me to read her words? Why, instead of feeling encouragement, did my heart feel rubbed raw and tears sting my eyes? I decided to go run it out with Jesus, because that’s just how I tend to handle moments like these. I knew the condemnation and guilt were not from Him because that’s just not how He operates, and I needed to get HIS perspective on the matter.
I stepped out into the brilliant, frosty morning, my emotions sending my feet flying before I even reached the driveway. “Why does this bother me so much!” I may or may not have exclaimed this to all of Spring Valley, but really my question was only directed toward one Person. “I mean, I KNOW you are “home” and the only “home” I was truly meant for. I cherish that. And the truth is, I would choose YOU over 1000 “perfect homes” here on earth. But LORD, this still hurts! Is that ok?!”
And then I realized it. That’s why the blog post stung. It stung because I had had a similar post reeling around in my mind for a long, long while. That post, though different because it shared my own story details rather than this author’s, imparted the same message: we will never feel truly at home because this world is not our home.
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:13-16
And that’s truth. I know it. I believe it. I experience it. But the post in my mind remained unwritten. Unwritten even in my personal journals. Why? Because I didn’t feel ready…maybe felt unqualified? to share. You see, though I know and believe that truth with every ounce of my soul, I am still hurting. I’m still struggling. My husband and children are still hurting and struggling as well. I guess I thought that in order to write that post I should be able to stand confidently and smile and proclaim that everything is ok because of that truth. While that is true in a deeper soul sense, there’s still the daily life logistics to contend with. And perhaps I thought I needed to be completely at ease with that in order to be qualified to share my reeling-in-my-mind blog post. I wanted to wrap that post up with a perfectly-tied bow.
We’ve been settled earth-side before. We know what that’s like, and we long to experience it again. No it wasn’t perfect. And we didn’t expect it to be. But it was home. It was a sense of comfort which made the day-to-day details of raising family and working and living easier. However, even with that sense of comfort we had when we were at home, there was still that nagging sense of unsettledness. That knowing of “this isn’t final” and that “we were made for something more.” I’m forever thankful for that nagging sense, because that pointed me to Christ then and it points me to Him now. I need that reminder of my true home, my true comfort, my sufficiency.
So yes, the post I read this morning? I totally get it. I think about that fact every day, because in my present season of still struggling to find home for nearly 5 years, it means more to me than ever before. But still, I never wrote the message myself. And now I realize that’s because I’m wrestling with the fact that I’m hurting and discouraged even though I know and believe the truth.
The sun cascaded down on my frosty breath as I ran waaay faster than usual. I felt Him speak to my heart, “It’s ok that you’re hurting and struggling even in the midst of believing and trusting me. I don’t expect you to shut off your feelings. Knowing and trusting doesn’t mean you don’t feel. I don’t expect you to pretend it’s all ok.”
At that moment I realized I had wanted to be a larger-than-life Believer. I wanted to be able to share my struggles but then point to our Sufficiency and smile and say Look! I’m totally ok and I feel so awesome because the truth is this world is not our home!” Except that wouldn’t be honest. Maybe someday it will be so, but I’m not there yet. So instead, I’m going to be honest and share that we will always feel like strangers in a strange land because this world is not our home, yes. But sometimes life circumstances make the struggle seem even more so. Does this resonate with you? For me it looks like living out of boxes and kids growing up like wild fire amidst chaos and anticipating needing to pack up yet a 5th time whenever we might find that healthy landing place this side of Heaven. The daily tasks of living are extra-arduous because 1/2 the kitchen is in storage, and no it doesn’t feel very homey when we wake to something gnawing (WHAT) up in the wall of our 1905 farmhouse rental and oh yes we can’t make a permanent solution for the uranium in the water coming out of our sink. There are emotions that accompany these things. YES we are so thankful for this provision of a roof and walls and water and a gorgeous view and loved neighbors. But NO it’s not all puppies and rainbows and THANK THE HOLY LORD we don’t have to pretend so. And so we hurt. And we struggle. It doesn’t make our faith in the Person who is our HOME any less. It doesn’t steal away the deep soul peace we have in knowing Who is in charge and that He is good. We can be honest about the hard while still being thankful for present provision and trusting the Giver’s good for us and our future.
How about you? I’m guessing it’s not all puppies and rainbows for you, either? Whatever life is throwing at you right now, there is deep, soul peace to be had. And you can have that soul peace and things may still not look real pretty or feel very good on the outside. And that’s ok. We don’t have to pretend. Page through the Psalms and you’ll see we’re not alone in the struggling. And if you, too, are feeling like a bit of a mess even though you know and believe He’s got your back, it’s ok.
I’m so glad my friend sent me that link this morning. It was the push I needed to confront my current struggles more honestly. And maybe it can encourage you to do the same.