After months of feeling almost content with our new normal, today I felt, once again, the pain of being displaced. I couldn’t have told you why, but there it was. It sat heavy on my chest, crushing the air out of my lungs, as I sat gingerly in a plush armchair in a coffee house in downtown Budapest. One minute I was admiring the homey decor and humming along to the familiar song playing in the background, the next I was biting my lips, my throat constricting as I looked up and blinked repeatedly to keep tears from dripping down my cheeks.
The episode was over almost as quickly as it began, but I can’t stop thinking about it. What is going on deep inside to cause such ripples on the surface? Right before it happened, I had been enjoying a moment of real happiness, thankful for the rare opportunity to get out and spend time with friends in a place that felt familiar and welcoming. Then suddenly I was overcome with a sharp longing for something beyond my reach, for a sweetness of friendship yet untasted, a sense of home still impossible to achieve.
At the time, I thought it was merely an aftershock of being torn away from our life in Kyiv, but now I’m not so sure. I think it was more profound than that.
I think it was a cry of the soul for its true home. But why was my soul crying?
When I left the United States to move overseas as a missionary, I learned to be thankful for the rootless, displaced feeling that resulted from living in a place where I never felt quite at ease. It was a constant reminder that this world is not my home. It helped me keep my priorities in order and my mind set on my eternal home with Jesus. Over the years, I came to appreciate living in this tension and even considered it a privilege to be unable to get so comfortable with my surroundings that I forgot this reality.
Now, as a person displaced not just by calling but by war, I experience this tension even more acutely. I will never truly feel at home until the day I am finally at home with the family of God on the New Earth. Can I learn to be thankful for this more painful reminder of that glorious future? Today is the first time I’ve seen the trauma of the past 20 months in this light. It dignifies our suffering. I think I can learn to be thankful even for this.
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of in-depth reflecting on our life since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine. With the vantage point of a little time, the shape of our story is becoming clearer. A number of people have encouraged me to write a book about it, and I’ve started. I wanted you to know. I may not post here as frequently as I used to, but I haven’t stopped writing.
I’m writing more than I ever have before.
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I would be honored to have you along on this journey!