Homesickness – caused by a lack of physical connection to the ones we love. For some, being homesick is to long for familiar surroundings, and then being surrounded by the ones who care about us. Being homesick is something I’ve experienced most of my life. There are three places in my world where I always felt connected growing up. One was my childhood home on Maberly Street in Holdrege, another was my Grandpa & Grandma’s farm near Orleans, and the other place was my Uncle Galen and Aunt Shirley’s house near Stamford. If I stayed the night anywhere else before marrying Scott, I was homesick at some point. I found ways to cope by sleeping a lot to pass the time until I could go home, or playing and holding with babies if they were around. Otherwise, I just flat out got sick, and often my parents would come to get me because the host observed I just didn’t feel well.
Shortly before my 19th birthday, I moved to New York to be a nanny. Even though millions of people lived within miles of me I felt alone, I felt homesick many times. My East Coast ‘family’ was wonderful to me including me in their Sunday morning baseball games in the Irvington Park, Saturday walks with our dog Winston, and visits with their friends from the city who came out to see how people in the suburbs lived. However, nothing, no experience, no person, could take the place of my family back in Nebraska who I longed for. This time, my parents could not be called to come bring me home for a familiar night in my bed, a taste of Grandma’s wedding cake scraps could not be sent for a familiar taste (she baked wedding cakes for a living), and no one could afford to jump on a plane to come see me for a familiar hug. On top of this, long-distance phone calls cost a fortune, internet was still a dream, and cell phones were just for the super rich. This time, I was on my own to figure out homesickness.
My East Coast Family had left for the weekend to their country home in Connecticut, and I was alone. All my nanny-friends had to work that Sunday, and I was literally alone in the castle (yes we lived in a castle that was being renovated into condos). As tears were welling up in my eyes and a knot in my stomach, an image came to me. The image was a little church on a corner across from the grocery store in the next town over, just down Broadway (yes Broadway Street runs out of New York City up into the suburbs following the Hudson River).
Fear filled my gut, but desperation fueled my actions. I got up, got ready, and went to the little church. When I walked in the door, you would have thought I was the lost little sister who had just been found. The greetings were immense, the hugs almost felt familiar, and the hymns and prayers were the same as my church back in Nebraska. It was just the little bit of familiarity I needed to untie the knot in my stomach and dry the tears out of my eyes.
Looking back that day brings me comfort to know when I face my fears, when I turn my day over to the real Author of my life, I will be taken care of. The next time I felt that deep pit of sadness in my stomach, I was going to be alone on a Friday night, and the youth group leader called me. A sponsor had to cancel out on a youth group lock-in, and they invited me to come be a sponsor all night. I said yes, and once again, God was reassuring me that He will come to me in many forms to face my fears, and to give me comfort when I yearn for home, for a connection to those I love.