“I want to go home” was all I could think for three years — the whole time I lived in Africa! “If I was at home right now, all my problems would be gone. I’d be safe and happy with my friends and family.”
Maybe you want to go home but you’re actually already living at home and you feel out of place. Maybe you’re the black sheep of the family. Maybe the only family member who really understood you moved away or died. Maybe you moved away from home for school or work. You’re dealing with homesickness because you live far away but you can’t go home to your family.
My three tips are inspired by both my life in Africa and my childhood in foster homes. I moved around a lot and never had a true home. I remember many of the places I lived but none of them were home to me. I thought moving to Africa would be a breeze because I never settled into a true home or had a close family, but living overseas was harder in some ways because I had no roots. I was homesick for three years.
You’re not alone if all you can think is “I want to go home.” Many people feel homesick and lost even though they live at home. It’s because of God. He created us for one purpose: to know and glorify Him. Our feelings of homesickness aren’t really about missing our physical homes. Rather, we want to go home to Jesus…and we need the Holy Spirit’s love and wisdom to connect us to God forever and ever, amen.
Whether you want to go home to a physical house or you’re struggling with emotional or spiritual homesickness, my tips will get you one step closer.
3 Things to Remember When You Want to Go Home
The third thing that inspired me to write this article (besides living in Africa as an adult and foster homes as a child) is Leviticus 22. I’m working on a She Blossoms Through the Bible project, and am writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. Today is Leviticus 22: Priests and Their Food, and Acceptable Sacrifices. Talk about wanting to go home to Egypt! Holy manna.
You don’t have to believe in God or follow Jesus to benefit from my tips on coping when you want to go home. Just be curious! Who knows what might blossom in your life if you keep an open mind and spirit?
1. Your feelings of homesickness won’t last forever
The book of Leviticus mainly contains instructions for the priests after God brought Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt. The Lord rescued them from the bondage of slavery and oppression; He set apart the Israelites as His holy people, sacred and beloved. Leviticus (and the previous biblical book, Exodus) were rules for a new life. God was teaching Moses and the Israelites how to live in a new home, under new laws and in a new culture. God was also telling His people how to live under His new covenant, how to be holy and sacred. How did the Israelites respond? “I want to go home” was a common refrain.
Feeling like you want to go home is painful but temporary. Yesterday I wrote When You’re Feeling Homesick on the Mission Field; when I described how much I wanted to go home to Canada I remembered that it felt like I’d be in Africa forever…but the three years passed quite quickly. Now that it’s over I see that it was the deepest, richest experience of my life — and that was partly because I was so homesick. I would’ve coped with wanting to go home better if I knew that my feelings weren’t permanent. Neither would my life in Africa. Your feelings of homesickness won’t last forever.
2. Choosing to like something about your new home will lift your spirits
In Leviticus 22:1-3 the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons to deal respectfully with the holy offerings of the Israelites that they have consecrated to me, so they do not profane my holy name; I am the Lord. Say to them: If any man from any of your descendants throughout your generations is in a state of uncleanness yet approaches the holy offerings that the Israelites consecrate to the Lord, that person will be cut off from my presence; I am the Lord.” Almost every verse of the book of Leviticus contains precise instructions for the Israelites. One thing God repeats is “I am the Lord.” Moses and the priests were called to live under the new covenant in their new home because God brought them out of Egypt as His chosen people. How did the Israelites feel about being forced to move to a new home as God’s holy nation?
Acknowledge your feelings of homesickness — but don’t live in your longing to go home. Express your homesickness by writing, painting, running, fixing up your new space, making new friends, perhaps even sharing your home with a homeless dog, cat, bird or newt. Yes, you want to go home. Yes, your heart hurts and aches and longs to go home. Your loneliness and homesickness is part of your life right now. Your pain will ease if you choose to see the good parts of your new home and life. Here’s an idea: write what you like about your new home in the comments section below. You might start by writing why you want to go home and what you miss about your old place and people. But don’t overlook the good things in your new home, no matter how small they are.
3. Your life has to change so you can grow forward and blossom
In Leviticus 21:31-33 the Lord told Moses, “You are to keep my commands and do them; I am the Lord. You must not profane my holy name; I must be treated as holy among the Israelites. I am the Lord who sets you apart,the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord.” Why did God spent so much time giving Moses, the priests and the Israelites detailed rules for life in a new home? Because He brought them out of Egypt and saved them from slavery and oppression. God wanted the lives of His chosen people to change because He saved them. The Israelites were to live differently than the pagan nations and cultures around them. They may have been grumbling “I want to go home” but their lives had to change so they could blossom into who God created them to be.
How will you handle this season of your life? I lived in Africa for three years. That was 15 years ago, and I look back with wisdom and insight. I see how I dealt with my feelings of homesickness. I lived in isolation, fear, and insecurity. But I also know that I did the best I could with who I was and what I knew at that time in my life. You, too, are doing the best you can with who and where you are in this season of your life. How do I know? Because you’re searching for tips on how to cope when you want to go home! You’re looking for solutions and support, which means you’re not dwelling in homesickness.
Look up, and meet the gaze of God. He is your home, your only true shelter and security. You’ll always feel homesick in this world because you’re separated from God..but you will find rivers of joy, peace, hope, light and life in Jesus Christ. You can find love and wisdom in the Holy Spirit. How? Start by looking up and meeting God’s loving gaze. He wants you to come home to Him, where you belong.
With His love,
P.S. If you want to go home because you have no friends or people to talk to, read What to Do When You Feel Rejected by Everyone.