experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.“he was homesick for America after five weeks in Europe”
synonyms: longing to be home, longing for home, yearning for home, (feeling) nostalgic, pining;
Instead of trying to come up with some hip, new age definition of “homesick”, I let Google do what it’s best at. Personally, I think this definition is quite accurate. Mind you, the first time I experienced this was when I moved. Yes, shocker, I know. Who knew I would get the slightest hint of nostalgia when I caught a whiff of an Evergreen tree? When I felt the first seasonal cold rain? When it was socially acceptable to be in sweats and a sweatshirt at all times? To be quite honest, I did not. I had never been away from home long enough to miss it. In all my 13 years of public schooling I moved once, but it was in the same city.. and I still went to the same school. Needless to say, I was more sick of home than homesick for the majority of my life (I love you mom, dad and siblings lol). I grew up having friends who were homesick after three days of not being home and I would be sitting there like what do you mean. You were just there. It’s still there. It will be there when you come back. Stop thinking about how you’re missing out on a jam packed house full of a people and animals. Or maybe that last one was just me. I had never experienced such an intense feeling so I always had a hard time empathizing with people struggling with that. It goes without saying, I can empathize with all those people x100 now.
Personally, I am experiencing this in a unconventional way. I can’t just hop on a plane and go “home”. Technically speaking, the house that I grew up in is still there, so I could go back to the house but it won’t ever really feel like home used to. It went from having my family all under one roof (niece and nephew included) to a gradual migration. My sister and her husband live three hours north. My brother lives three hours south. My parents live five hours east. I live too many hours south east. But my oldest sister is still holding down the fort where we all grew up. I am homesick for a place that doesn’t really exist anymore. But at the same time, I am homesick for a place that doesn’t exist yet. I am stuck somewhere in between wanting things to go back to how they were and being able to have a permanent home to call my own. Somewhere in between wishing I didn’t waste all those hours on failed relationships and attempting to tend to and cultivate the ones I have. Currently, I do not have a place to call “home” anymore but I’m not bitter. I don’t blame anyone but life and even being mad at life won’t change things.
Knowing what makes a home is an important part in understanding, appreciating and potentially rebuilding it. Since this whole concept has been on my brain so frequently, I decided to come up with words that describe what makes something or someone feel like home.
Stability was always a major part of my home life growing up. Knowing we had a house to come back to everyday with food on the table, it equipped my family as a whole to take in those who didn’t necessarily have that where they were living. My family may not have had a whole lot of money, but we had a whole lot of love and hospitality. Like, shoot. We already had six in the house, what was a couple more? My mom knows how to make portions of food that could feed small countries and enough laughter to fill your heart until you go to bed. If that’s not enticing, I don’t know what is. Along with stability, comfort is vital in a home. Comfort can be displayed and used in various different ways. Maybe comfort means walking around the house with socks and sandals and not being judged. Maybe it means singing at the top of your lungs when a Disney song comes on while you’re cleaning the kitchen. Maybe it means the kids who spread horrible rumors at school about you aren’t welcome. Maybe it means late nights with someone, crying about a broken heart in the living room. Maybe it means all of those things. Maybe it means love. Love. Love is so essential to a home. It binds people together even when sometimes you can’t stand the other. Love is the safety net that comes with every misunderstanding, disagreement and blowout fight. It is the reason why after a big fight you’ll want to reconcile with someone. It is the reason why you can learn to move past things. True, biblical love allows us to love like we never thought we could. It is sacrificial. It is gracious. It is patient. It is especially all of those things when discipline is at hand. While no one likes to be disciplined, or to discipline, it was a necessary part of every one’s lives if they want to grow. True, it was not exactly a hay day every time I got spanked or put in a corner, but you best believe I didn’t crumple up my clean clothes and put them under my bed instead of folding them after I was spanked. At the same time, my siblings also discovered that doing that was not the best way to avoid the wrath of the hand-to-butt action. Also, it gave my parents an opportunity to correct my behavior. They reinforced the idea that lying is never a good option (“why of course, I folded the clothes and put them away”) as well as pointing out that they may or may not have been my dad’s work clothes.. sorry dad.
While it is very easy to want to rebuild a place that feels like home ASAP, be wary of trying to make a permanent feeling home in temporary things and/or people. This is not to discourage loving people, or letting yourself be comfortable in a place, but it is to recognize that relationships can fall flat and environments alter without warning or consent. This is something that I especially have struggled with this past year. I wanted so desperately to feel at home again that I invested so much into people and things that I nearly lost touch with people who still wanted to be a part of my life. I poured so much of myself and time into rebuilding a place to call my own that when a relationship or two did falter, it hurt so much more than it should have. I was a little blindsided when it was quite obvious that I should have known that people change so much in general, but especially during the college years. Furthermore, be wary of idolizing places and people. It is so easy to worship something that brings you stability, comfort, love and even sometimes discipline. When you start to do this, you’re setting yourself up for failure as well as whatever you are worshiping. Nothing in this world is worthy of worship nor can anything handle that kind of affection and pressure. Set standards that are intentionally or unintentionally unattainable and they will fail no matter how infallible you want them to be, except God. Pour your foundation in Him and then learn to pick up your surroundings to build a temporary home. The foundation is portable but when you move on, acknowledge that everything else was in fact temporary. You can still hold on to those relationships and memories but just know it won’t ever be the same.
Lastly, it is okay to cry. The paragraph above wasn’t suppose to instruct you not to be a big baby. I don’t know who ever thought suppressing or deeming someone’s emotions invalid, was a great idea but it happens all the time. But for the love of pizza, cry. Let it all out. Be sad. Mourn the loss but don’t let it consume your future. Heck, I find myself crying quite often because of how homesick I am, but I am so hopeful that I will feel at home again at some point. My home right now is scattered across a couple states and the consequences of growing up but I am learning that my foundation must reside not in a place, not in a person, but in Christ alone. He is the essence of stability, comfort, love and discipline.
Here are just a couple verses that I found to be encouraging and convicting:
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance
Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.