August 14, 2014


Sometime last week while driving home from somewhere, I turned to Wayne and said, "Wayne, I am homesick, and I don't even know where I am homesick for."

"Tell me about it," he said. "Today I told someone that I was looking forward to being home... wherever that is."

In the last three years we have lived in three different countries on two separate continents. We have occupied three different residences. We have been part of four different church congregations. I have worked three different jobs. We have undergone at least six different physical location or community-based transition times thanks to internships and study opportunities, and will have to get through at least two more of those transitions in the next ten months.

It has been exciting, certainly -- a whirlwind of exploration and new experiences. Our web of contacts and friends is vast and reaches further than we though possible when we left the rooted foundations of our childhood homes. But it is a very horizontal web, and not particularly vertical. We meet, we relate, we say goodbye and we'll stay in touch. It is like being terribly thirsty and wanting nothing more than to drink a whole glass of water -- but only being able to take a tiny sip before moving on and getting going elsewhere.

Yes, we are in some places and communities for longer stretches than others, but even then, there are reminders written in red pen scrawled across dates on calendars and in agendas, warning us of impending expiration dates for visas and work authorizations. There is always paperwork, and you are guaranteed a sufficiently peevish questioning period when trying to get through a border crossing, trying to get through your front door, closer to that place that you think is probably, for now, home.

We are constantly faced with reminders that we do not belong here -- wherever here is at the time. We have pulled anchor and locked up our house so many times that even in our own country it is easy to forget that our birth certificates declare us to be proper and legal citizens.

To put it plainly, we are not quite sure where we belong.

Lord willing, within the next year we'll hopefully find a place to set our feet for at least a little longer than a ten month period of time. For now, though, we live a nomadic life. When I am curled up on a couch and tired with making new friends, or when I wake up in the morning and am groggily unsure of where I am, I am reminded of the fact that I am a wanderer. And yet, as I look back over the last three years, I am okay with this, because I think it is maybe a little bit good to feel displaced.

Part of me welcomes that deep longing for home -- and not just a home I can decorate for Christmas or dig up a garden around -- but a home that is not of this age. It helps me understand what Peter meant when he addresses his letters to the pilgrims, sojourners, strangers and aliens of the world -- the saints, the followers of Christ, who understand that their real citizenship is in heaven. It is good to recognize that I do not permanently belong here, or anywhere on earth, because this is not the last stop. It is good to enjoy the blessings of homes and families and communities, but it is important to realize that the misleading permanency of a job and a mortgage and a nice garden is not the end of the line. It is important to realize that none of this is here for good; that clinging too tightly to earthly things will result in a dependency that will only disappoint and crush. The fear of and aversion to change will stunt our growth, keeping our focus on the here and now; keeping us from stretching and maturing into more faithful followers of Christ.

Wayne and I can say with great certainty that we do not know what the future holds. It is more than possible that we will settle down and grow some roots, but it could be that we will always be nomads -- and that is hard, but that is also okay, because why should we expect any different? The world is a shifting, changing place -- and only "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." So I will seek a permanence in heaven and dig some roots into the very solid, never changing ground of the King of all kings, and grow where I'm planted, wherever that may be. 


  1. Beautiful post Suzanne. What a great reminder. I can't wait to see you two soon!

  2. You have a great talent for saying exactly what so many of us feel and know to be true but cannot put into words. Thanks Suz!

  3. What a wonderful post Suzanne! You put your thoughts so beautifully into words that are so true. I am missing both you and Waye! Can't wait for you to come back to MI (I am glad that some of your wanderings have led you to Grand Rapids for my sake!)

  4. I needed to be reminded of this! Lately I've been longing for a more permanent living situation that I can put my own touch on and stability in a job, and it's good to remember that wherever I am or wherever I end up, this is not my true home.

  5. Hey Suzanne,
    I recently read this post by a Canadian living in Australia. Thought you might like to check it out.

    Take care, Leah

  6. Suzanne, thank you for taking the time to write out what so many of us have been feeling, but have been unable to articulate. You did it in such an eloquent and insightful way. Your words have spoken to me. I love how you ended your thoughts by relating the nomadic lifestyle with our need to feel the permanence of heaven. Way to see the silver lining!

    Most of the people that I have conversed with on the topic of moving around have told me that it takes an average of 2 years to love a new city and feel at home. It's no surprise that you feel dislocated and "thirsty for a full glass." It's comforting to know that soon we will be able to start that 2 year process of settling, but while we wait we can be sure that the Lord is using all of these experiences leading up to it to shape us into who He wants us to be.

    We should stay in touch. Miss you.

  7. Well said, although I must admit I love it when your home is close to ours ;0)

  8. Thank you for this, Suzanne. You are becoming quite the word-smith, hitting the nail right on the head. I'm sure that you are looking forward to getting back to your cozy little GR home!

  9. Resonating strongly with your beautifully articulated yearning for home: Gerry and I had experiences similar to yours and Wayne's when we first were married -- had to move EIGHT times in the first ten years. Altho' there were times when we ached so for the familiar, we learned to celebrate the (life-long, we now know) friends we made along the way and God's amazing gift(s) in each of the new places -- it was amazing how He delivered just what we needed at that particular time. I know He continues in His faithful ways so I look forward to what He will do for/with/in/through you guys. Let's compare notes in GR .....

  10. Your writing is always so calming yet enriching - I hope you write a book someday!