in a week and a half, i am returning to Liberia for another six months, my fifth trip since late 2008. in the four years i’ve been involved in missions, my entire world has been turned upside down. i’m constantly on the go (which is exhausting for a creature of habit like myself), rarely spending much time in one place before heading off to a new one. my days in Liberia are nothing at all like those while i’m in the States:: different cultures, different landscapes, different relationships, different foods, different routines, different struggles, everything so. very. different.
perhaps the greatest indicator of this life unsettled, however, is that so much of me is compartmentalized. even now, as i prepare to go back and have started packing suitcases, the dissociation hits me hard, a slap across the face. there is the pile of things to be packed for Liberia. there’s the pile of things to be put away in storage for the life i’ll live when i get back. there’s a pile to be sold, a pile to be donated, a pile of things from another season, when i was somebody else entirely, that holds no meaning for me anymore, and i don’t know what to do with them. at times it seems my existence is summed up in suitcases and boxes and plastic bins tucked away in closets. pieces of my heart and pieces of my life and pieces of myself are scattered all across the world, and sometimes the ache of being broken seems just too much to bear, and i want nothing more than to be put back together, to feel whole once again. i’ve been wandering–through countries and airports and moments in time, as if it were all one long dream that wove me into itself.
then one day, i woke up to find myself far, far away from where i’m supposed to be. and i just want to go home.
and i know–i know; oh how i know–that this longing is nothing new. it’s something each one of us feels at some point or another, from the very beginning of time. i study the scriptures and i think about the Israelites, lives lived in perpetual exile, and i connect to them because i too know what it feels like to not know which place to call home. i read the words of the prophets, promises from a God who rebuilds and restores and leads his own beside green pastures. and it appears that he must understand this ache, know something of the longing, and that he must have something to satisfy it. he beckons the weary wanderers to come to him, for he will give them rest.
“instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (hebrews 11.sixteen)