Homesickness: The Side Effect of Wanderlust


A Post Inspired By Birthdays and Epic Moves

Note: I’ve debated posting this. It’s personal, and I don’t want to freak people out. I don’t want compliments or frantic phone calls asking me if I’m all right. I’m not sure what I want. I started this fully intending to write a post about my summer reading list, and this is what came out instead.

I’m currently sitting in my apartment in New York City at the dining room table, ignoring the half-finished chapter of my second novel on my desktop and the fact that my stomach is demanding dinner.

The windows are open, and the white curtains are trying to escape. It’s cooler today than it has been, the result of severe weather in other states on the Eastern seaboard, but the sun is shining, and the street outside is noisy with chatter and cars. The ice cream truck is taking another lap around our building. I’ve lost track how many times I have heard “Pop Goes the Weasel” since coming home from grocery shopping.

There’s something absolutely beautiful about today, especially since early this morning, in a fit of panic, I texted this to my best friend,

I’m feeling super homesick right now. I hate this.

I don’t even know what that means. Homesick? Homesick for where? For Virginia? I love Virginia, and I love my family and friends who live there, but it’s not home. For Kazakhstan? That’s been the closest thing I’ve had to a home, I guess, but it still doesn’t quite make the cut.

I think I’ve been homesick all my life.

My parents live in Turkey. My sister, brother-in-law, and their bun-in-the-oven live in Virginia with my grandparents and extended family. My brother lives in Texas. And I have the misfortune of having many wonderful friends who live scattered throughout the earth. Kazakhstan, England, Haiti, Virginia, Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Missouri—Why can’t you all live in the same place with me? Why can’t I pack you up in my suitcase and lug you around to every place I run away to? Who needs clothes and shoes—who needs books?—if we could all just be together?

You know what’s brought this on? This homesickness?

The fact that tomorrow is Sunday.

You see, that crazy, dreadful, bittersweet twenty-fifth year of my life that is now dead and gone gave me two very beautiful things: the courage to write, and the desire for church.

(There goes that ice cream truck again.)

Since leaving Kazakhstan, I feel like God has poked and prodded and ripped from me everything until all I had left was Him. Sundays became my favorite day of the week for the first time ever in my life. (I used to envy atheists because they got two days to sleep in.) I learned so much about God and myself this year because of my church, my family, and my friends.

And because of church and God and family and friends, I know the answer to this homesickness—this frustration of wishing to be settled while at the same time unable to stop exploring—the answer is that one day I will be settled, and I will have people I love and care for with me, never leaving me, never saying goodbye.

(I hate that word. Goodbye. It’s the ugliest word in every language.)

One day, I’ll be in heaven, and every tear will be wiped away from my eyes. Death, mourning, crying and pain will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4). I know that answer. I believe that answer. I have hope in that answer.

But as Nathan said in church last Sunday, hope is not an emotion. It’s not a feeling. The warm fuzzy feelings are just a spiritual by-product.

So even though I have hope, I don’t always feel comforted or satisfied.

And tomorrow I want to go to a new church in my new city of New York. I also want to hide under my covers and wait for Monday. I have to make new friends all over again.

It feels like the first day of school, and I don’t like it.

The sad thing about meeting new people is that saying “goodbye” is always a probability.

In the Book of Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote,

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus… For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
(1:3-6, 8)

I read the words, I say the words, I pray the words, I believe the words—but I still really miss… something. Some place. Someone. My citizenship is in heaven, and one day I’ll go home.

Until then, I guess homesickness will just be a way of life.

There’s something beautiful about today. Maybe it’s the beauty of this city. Maybe it’s the beauty of my dreams. Of my God.

Maybe it’s hope working.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

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8 thoughts on “Homesickness: The Side Effect of Wanderlust

  1. I am very reminded of the song Wayfaring Stranger. That song paints too grim a portrait of earth for me, but there’s something to it that speaks, nonetheless. That feeling that we really are strangers in a strange land, traveling on our way home is familiar.
    As someone who has roots running deep in a single place on earth, I can say I still know the feeling. I suspect that it is a feeling common to humanity, whether we realize/admit it or not.

    • Kudos to you for Wayfaring Stranger. Great song, but yes, it is rather grim.
      And I agree with you. Sadly, it is something most people feel, although I envy those who seem more able to ignore it than I can.

  2. Love this! I have never met you but I live in istanbul and know your mom and dad. This is beautifully written and very encouraging. Thank you for your honesty.

  3. Beautiful Emily, (oh, and the words you wrote are beautiful too.) I’m planning on sharing this with dear friends who always miss their daughter who has gone on to heaven ahead of them. Also with a few tcks that I know. Thanks for writing. Hope your Sunday morning was the beginning of something good for you. I know He will lead you to just the right place to worship. BTW your words are encouraging me also as I really miss Kazakhstan and other dear ones these days.

    • Thank you very much, Ruthie. It’s so nice to hear from you! I had a very good Sunday. We visited Hillsong NYC, and it was phenomenal. It was a great way to start the week in New York! 🙂

      I’m so thankful that I could encourage you. Like I said, I didn’t plan on posting that, but knowing that it meant something to you leads me to believe I did the right thing.

      Bless you, and my best regards to you and your family!

  4. Beautifully written. I agree with your thoughts about “goodbye”, it is an ugly word… I’m telling all of our local friends and those staying in Kazakhstan for another year “see you later” instead, my heart is too full for anything else. Just remember, it’s OK to be homesick. I remember living in Manhattan in the middle of everything that I thought life had to offer and feeling very lonely. My home has always been where my loved ones were, and when they are not around, it doesn’t quite feel right. But you’re on a wonderful path there, so just imagine it’s a detour on your way to another home of friends and family. Or creating a new one with new friends soon enough. And good luck with the writing, I have great hopes that I’ll be able to brag that I “knew you when” someday… PS, a student from your class last year is doing her Honors Project on Edgar Allan Poe because of the stories she read in your class. Thought you’d like to know. ❤ Blessings on your hopeful heart!

    • Thank you, Nadia!

      “I remember living in Manhattan in the middle of everything that I thought life had to offer and feeling very lonely.” That’s exactly what it’s like.

      I hope you can brag about me one day, too! 🙂

      And thank you for telling me about that student! That’s wonderful to hear.

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