Becoming a Belonger

Wanderer: (n) a person who travels aimlessly.

When I think of this person, I think of someone who has no place to call home. And sometimes I feel like that person, wandering about, never establishing roots deep enough to consider a place home. Yet most of the time, this description doesn’t really fit me. Because, after all, I don’t feel homeless or lost.

I was surprised by the feelings I experienced in my unanticipated arrival back into the States. Yes, I had been planning to go home for the past month, but it still caught me off guard. To be honest I had been worried about it. In the weeks leading up to the trip I was worried that my one week at home wouldn’t be worth it because it would only make the feelings of leaving home more fresh, a sort of teaser. Yet the whip lash that thrust me back into my parent’s large home in a small town in the US and then back en route to Thailand, had an effect quite contrary to what I expected.

As I entered the beloved “US of A” I was met with the stark contrast of cultures. Americans with their harsh demeanors, lofty words, and loud voices surrounded me and I found myself homesick for Thailand already. Each day I divvied up my time between family members, friends, and favorite restaurants, trying to savor each moment. And I did. I recognized the value of this time that I wasn’t supposed to be given with my family, and enjoyed it.

Surprisingly though, I found myself homesick for Thailand. Thailand, the place that I hadn’t planned to live in, the place I was in merely out of obedience to the call of God. And as I spent a mere 7 days away from my new home, I became even more aware of how God’s grace is over my season there, how He is already knitting my heart to the people and the land.

I was happy to feel this way because it helped me look forward to my return, after a short-lived visit with family. And yet, I felt even more torn because of it. Will I always feel homesick? Like I would fit better in the place I’m not? Like I don’t really have a home that I can go back to and feel completely established? Is this just part of being a missionary?

Then I realized: being a missionary requires making a choice. Daily. It is choosing not to succumb to permanent homesickness, always longing for the home where you aren’t. It is choosing to make every stop a home, whether through relationship, routine, or redecorating. It is treasuring where you are rather then emotionally dwelling somewhere else.It’s realizing that you are not a homeless wanderer, but a belonger, a citizen of many lands.

I want to be a “glass half full” kind of girl, and for me that means continually realizing the blessing of having many places to call home, and that I have family dispersed throughout the nations. I have surrendered, by choice, to the lifestyle of a wanderer. But I refuse to be a lonely one. I am a belonger.

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 11:15-16

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