It seems logical that I would experience homesickness while living on the other side of the world from where I grew up, but it has been especially difficult lately. I’m realizing that my natural response to homesickness is to seek comfort. When I can’t increase my comfort, however, I become frustrated, then homesick, then depressed.
Life for us in Papua New Guinea means changing houses every 6 months to a year, not even owning our own pots and pans, and bringing in wet laundry that I moved around all day between sun and cover and still never got dried. It means not owning a dryer, or a comfortable mattress for our bed. It means really regretting that we forgot to change our washing machine and shower over to river water before the dry season came, which in turn means boiling river water so it is clean enough to drink because we ran our tank water dry. It also means trying to take a shower at the end of a long day only to find that there wasn’t enough sun to heat the water or it’s scalding hot and we can’t add any cold because our pump is broken.
There are those days when my husband says, “Doesn’t Taco Del Mar sound good tonight?” and for just a moment we dream of buying dinner instead of making it from scratch, but there are no restaurants here. There are no coffee stands or movies or even ice cream right now. (At least I currently have a very large stash of chocolate that friends and family have sent.J)
But lately things have been so hard that I have begun to realize that the comfort I actually desire is only found in heaven. Even if I were surrounded by all I desire now, I know that I would simply desire other things. I try to make myself comfortable here, but I cannot. So then I see that it is only in heaven, free of sin, fully as I was meant to be, that I’ll truly be home.
How many of us are homesick for heaven and we’ve responded by trying to make this life more comfortable? What if we had a bigger house or remodeled the one we own; if we bought a new car or got away on a vacation; if we could wrap up a project and spend more time with our kids? On and on goes the list. Are they really any different than my wish for dry clothes and a hot shower?
Is it possible that we are seeking comfort because we are seeking home? It’s very enticing to believe that comfort will make it easier for us to be separated from home and in a way it does because it distracts us. If I can make a comfortable and busy life for myself here in Papua New Guinea, then maybe I won’t long for life in the US or . . . heaven.
But perhaps as Christians we should be longing for home. Maybe if we can accept that homesickness is a good part of life, something that keeps us focused on what matters most, we’ll be able to listen to what God is calling us to instead of spending so much of our lives trying to be comfortable.
I feel I have two choices no matter where I live. If I seek comfort, I will be forever striving and never satisfied, but often frustrated. If I seek the Spirit, I will be uncomfortable but filled with God’s strength to see life for what it is, temporary.
So my prayer is not “Lord, take me home to the US where I can be comfortable,” but rather, “Lord, teach me to be at peace with discomfort because it is a constant reminder that I am not home.”