I know it’s been a couple weeks since I last posted. For the past two weeks I have been in North Carolina visiting family, attending weddings, and throwing baby showers. Ike and I also squeezed in a quick trip to Charleston where we celebrated our anniversary and ate way too much delicious food.
The trip has been wonderful and just what I needed. Whenever I come back to North Carolina I feel like I am home. It’s a beautiful place full of beautiful people, and I miss it every day.
However, my trips home are also bittersweet. Whenever I come home I realize that I am not the same woman I was when I left. In many ways I have changed and grown, so I don’t fit here the way that I once did. It’s like trying to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy jeans–I might be able to get them on, but they’ll never quite fit the way they used to.
For that reason there is always a strange ache that accompanies the joy of coming home. About a year and a half ago I wrote about this ache in my heart and its eternal significance. I wrote the post while on a women’s retreat in which the speaker confessed her own aching for home. At the time it was a real epiphany for me.
Over the last two weeks I’ve found myself returning to the speaker’s words again and again, drawing on it for perspective and comfort. Since that is where I am today, I want to share one section from that original post. In it, I interact with the retreat speaker’s experience, and how it spoke into mine:
As she reflected on it, she realized that the ache was not, ultimately, about her earthly home. What her heart was yearning for, on a deep spiritual level, was the kind of home that we only taste in brief moments on earth. We snatch slivers of it here and there–in time with our family and friends, in the watching of a sunset or the hearing of sweet music–but the sensation is always fleeting. It never lasts.
That ache or that longing you feel, whatever its source, will never be fully satisfied this side of eternity. Nothing on earth is capable of soothing it completely, but we shouldn’t despair. The ache is painful, but it is also sacred.
That aching and longing we feel for something just outside our grasp is a reminder. It reminds us that we are not home yet; we were created for another world.
However you find yourself aching today, know that you are not alone. Even in our most sublime moments the ache is always there, lurking in the shadows, quiet but ever-present.
The ache is common to many of us because it points to something true about this world, and the world to come. Hebrews 13:14 tells us,
For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
As Christians we live a life of looking. Our souls are always straining forward toward the “enduring city” in which we will ultimately find rest. As Augustine famously put it, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”
So today I encourage you to join me in embracing the restlessness and embracing the ache. Embrace the weakness that draws you nearer to Christ, and embrace the inadequacy that finds its full sufficiency in Him.
Because that ache in your heart, that ache that follows you as closely as your own shadow through good times and bad, that ache is sacred. And in some strange way, it is actually good.