I believe that we leave pieces of our hearts wherever we go. Sometimes those pieces are left with places. Sometimes they go with people. But either way, they get scattered & give us something to miss when we have to leave them. Our heart can go on without them, that’s for sure, but there are still feelings of homesickness that arise when we are placed so distant from them.
Although my body is in California (for now), my heart is in so many places.
A piece of my heart is in the greater Chicagoland area, in the suburbs. Where I was born & raised. Where my roots are. Where my life was established. Where family is. Where I met Jesus. Where old friendships originate. It’s my true home. One that forever holds a significant fragment of my heart.
A piece of my heart is at Olivet. My alma mater. The best four years of my life (thus far) were spent there. Where I ventured out & started a new stage of life. Where I learned a lot about who I am, and who I’m not. Where I established some of the sweetest friendships I’ve come to know – especially the ones that became family. & as a result pieces of my heart are with them too. There’s a piece in Kenya with Hannah as she is teaching fourth graders at a missionary school. Another piece is in Alaska with Taryn as she is finishing up a long summer of being a nanny in an entirely foreign land to her. There’s another piece in Minnesota where Vanessa & Joe are settling into a new home while managing her PT school & his full time job responsibilities. I’ve got many pieces in Michigan, Indiana, Missouri & still in Illinois. As my family has spread out far beyond what I ever thought possible, my heart is going with them.
A piece of my heart is in Southern Illinois. Where we spent the first year of our marriage. Where our family’s foundation was laid. Where I transitioned from the college life to true adulthood & started my first full time job. Where we came to be a part of an incredible church that deepened our faith & has forever changed our hearts. Where I experienced God actively working in my heart more deeply than he has since I first came to know him in high school. Where our time with the people we were building relationships with was cut short.
My heart is in a lot of places. It’s been aching lately of the distance between. I wish I could create a space that could combine all of these people & places. Where we could go on living together forever in perfect, wonderful harmony. But the fact of the matter is that’s not how life works. & the even bigger reality is that’s not how following Jesus works. If I had stayed put in Joliet, & never ventured out for college, I never would have met my family at Olivet. If Adam & I waited another year to get married, I would never have moved to Southern Illinois & gotten plugged into Vine Church, or built relationships with those that I did. As much as I want to hold it all close & never loosen my grip, God’s asked me to unclench my fists. He’s asked me to keep moving & look towards Him & His plans. To trust in His faithfulness. To keep going out into the world & investing in places & people by sharing the pieces of my heart.
The good thing about having scattered pieces is that when we’re reunited with them, we feel at home. We feel the over-joyed, fulfilling peace that comes when we meet up with the long lost friends. I may be getting real deep & abstract here, but the truth is, I’ve been missing my pieces lately. & as a result, I’ve been homesick for a whole lot.
I got to speak to that piece of my heart that’s in Africa this past Friday night. Every time we talk we marvel at how God has placed us literally on opposite ends of the earth & in entirely different circumstances, yet we are still experiencing & going through a lot of the same heart issues. We’re both adjusting to new places, dealing with homesickness, & learning to trust God with the details AND the big picture. & we came to the conclusion that it’s okay to feel homesick. It’s natural, normal & expected – especially when you have pieces of your heart in so many places. But what’s not okay is letting your homesickness infect your every day. When you let it become all you think about. When you let it prevent you from investing in & making the most of where you are at. When you let it cause you to look in the rearview mirror more than you look out the windshield. If you do those things, you’ll be living in memories that have already passed. You’ll miss out on opportunities to make more, & potentially even better memories. You’ll miss out on more people & places that can host a piece of your heart.
I’m trying to pick myself up by my nonexistent bootstraps & keep moving forward. Those homes & those people are a part of who I am. They’ve helped shape me & mold me. They’ve helped push me to where I am right now. & no doubt they are what keeps encouraging me ahead. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to visiting with some of these heart pieces in a week and a half, however short that time may be. I believe that God has perfectly planned the timing of this upcoming trip for us. But after it’s over, I only hope to keep trusting in my faithful God as he pulls me onward for my good & for His glory.