I grew up near Atlanta, in a little city known only because it’s where the Falcons used to practice (though maybe they still do), but I call Birmingham home. In Birmingham, I have my university, friends, church, and church family. Though I’ve only lived there for 3 years, I call it home.
So when I left Birmingham to come to Memphis for the summer, I became homesick. I had never felt homesick before, and to say the least, I had no idea what to do with those feelings. In so many ways, Memphis was the most foreign place I had ever been for an extended period of time. It was a far stretch from the Birmingham and Samford cultures I loved.
Perhaps it was that I didn’t have any friends, know anyone outside of the church where I worked, and generally just felt disconnected from the city and people.
I can’t help but think that this was how Jesus felt when He was sent to Earth. God sent Jesus to a foreign place (Earth) for a specific purpose, just as He also had sent me to Memphis, a place foreign to me, for the purpose of loving on a bunch of 10th and 11th grade girls. Even though none of the other senior high interns could identify with me, Jesus could. He knew what it felt like to long for Home. The truth is that no matter what city or location I am in, I’ll always be a little homesick. We have been placed on Earth for a time, but our true Home is in Heaven seated beside the King, and until we reach that Heavenly Home, we will be longing for that place.
God has a way, through time, of changing things. Slowly, ever so slowly, Memphis began to feel familiar. I finally was able to get from my host family’s home to the church where I worked without the GPS. (Confession: it was only 5 turns away). I learned my students’ stories. I found some of the best eats in the city. Even though I came from a different background (both culturally and spiritually) than my coworkers, I began to slowly fall in love with them and all their quirks.
I wouldn’t call Memphis home, but maybe it’s close.