In the seven months I’ve been living in Australia, full-time, I haven’t really been homesick. I sometimes miss my mom and sister, a specific food, or being able to legally drive, but I’ve very rarely wanted to go “home.” Life is pretty good: we have a home that meets our needs, jobs that pay the bills and allow us to chip away at the debts, and our health.
A few months ago, I shared that Harli and I had started going to a new church. Things seemed really good. Amazingly kind pastors, and some very timely messages. That ended quick. About six weeks ago, I started breaking into tears during worship. Not the “He is so Good, I’m so blessed by His love,” tears, but the kind that run down in hot streaks as I hiccup, trying to stop. At first, I tried to truck through it, but seemed to miss out on most of the service while recovering from the emotional tornado that had just ripped through the trailer park that is my heart. Three weeks ago, I made Harli leave five minutes into worship. I couldn’t handle it. The moment the music began, I had the overwhelming urge to run as far away as I could get.
Chalking this up to the church being overly-charismatic, and “not where God wants me to be,” I decided I wouldn’t be going back. The hunt for a new church began.
Last week, I came across the website for a young, dynamic, and very enthusiastic church nearby. Harli wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to go alone. Four minutes before church began, I was weeping. No warning, no dwelling, no stewing; went from “fine” to “hysterical” in about 10 seconds. Needless to say, I ran out of the room, called my husband, and waited for him to come get me.
While I may wrong, I think I’ve figured out why church now makes me cry, when it’s always been a vital part of my week. A lot of thought, prayer, and wise counsel from godly women, has lead me to the following conclusion: I miss home, and church is the most vibrant reminder that my life has changed in a radical way since moving across the world.
A quick breakdown of my reasoning: I’m still in contact with the vast majority of my friends via Facebook, Twitter, or Skype; my mom and I speak via email or phone at least twice a week; Harli and I are fine; my job is less than ideal, but I don’t dread it. But, I can’t transplant my church family. The people who shared my burdens and joys for years are not here, and I have to come to peace with the fact that “church” is no longer in a familiar place, with people who already love me.
“Church” has become the conduit of all of my “missing.” It’s where I see that I’m trying to start all over again in a foreign country, away from all that I’m comfortable with, where I don’t know many people. It’s as though I only allow myself to see all that has changed when a song by the Crowder Band is playing.
Unfortunate as this may be, I’m resolved to not let it keep me from being part of a faith community. The community and accountability that come from church are important, and not to be run from in the interest of keeping unpleasant emotions away. I’ll start fighting through the homesick sludge, even when it hurts.
As I’ve said before, life is very different here in Oz. Most of the differences are wonderful, but some are incredibly frustrating. There’s a song by Sara Groves called “Painting Pictures of Egypt” that embodies much of this unholy discontent. “The places I long for the most are the places that I’ve been/they are calling out to me like a long lost friend…I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt/leaving out what it lacks/the future feels so hard and I wanna go back/but the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned/those roads were closed off to me when my back was turned.”
I used to say that “home is where my momma is.” That isn’t true, anymore. “Home” is where God has placed me, and it’s where I’m made to flourish. So, here’s to battling the fact that I’m 15,000 miles away from the life I knew, and stepping into the prosperity of God’s plan for us. He is Good, and His plans are for Good.