Years ago, in 2008, I quoted Donald Miller in a blog post about leaving home. It’s still one of my favorite pieces of writing on life and finding its meaning and finding its adventure. It ends with this: “It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. I want to repeat one word for you: ‘Leave.’ Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
On Tuesday morning I’m going to pack up my car and drive from middle Tennessee to South Texas. I’ve not driven that bit of highway since I moved to Nashville five years ago. This time, I’ll drive it in the other direction. I’m not moving; I’m just going for a little while. I’m just going home, for a little while.
The desire hit me two weeks ago. I was sitting at my desk, writing and suddenly, I needed to take a road trip and that road trip needed to be to my home state and it needed to last longer than a week.
Traveling, wandering, exploring—that stuff has always been a part of me, but usually in the way that takes me away from home. Now, I’m desiring for the wandering and exploring to bring me back home.
I’ve always thought life had two options: settle in or near my hometown or move far away, far enough that I could only afford to return on major holidays. I’ve taken much pride in doing the latter, the type of leaving I quoted above. I’ve studied overseas, lived overseas and have lived a few states away for several years. And now, I can’t wait for Tuesday to get here. I can’t wait to see the familiar things and faces. It’s like I just want to sit in Texas’ lap and curl up in it for days. Odd imagery, but it’s how I feel. It’s how much I’m needing home.
I think my extreme ideas of life and where it should be lived are trying to find middle ground. I think I put “leaving home” and “coming home” at odds with each other when really, I should let them work together. The Bible says He has put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and I’ve become really fascinated with that phrase. If eternity is truly in our hearts, then we’re longing for home, yet, we are longing to leave. Maybe our pull toward and away from home is simply an echo of this desire that is in us. Maybe we should give ourselves grace to be where we need to be when we need to be there, whether that be far away or close by.
They say you can’t go home again, but sometimes you have to. For me, I know it’s a job transition and a bunch of change around me that’s beckoning me back for a taste of familiarity. For others, it’s a tragedy or hardship or a celebration that’s making them long for the place they call home. I think it’s important to go (if you can) when you feel those longings. It’s important to remember those places and to reconnect with people you’ve slowly been letting go. Sometimes it’s time to leave and sometimes it’s time to go back.