Living as a Foreigner

When Adam and I moved to Nashville, we knew that we would be putting all of our things into storage and temporarily living with my sister, brother-in-law, and their two daughters.  We selected the clothes and household items that we thought we would absolutely need for the transition period, and moved those items into our bedroom, and then squeezed the rest into our storage unit.

We had no idea that we would be without our own home for three months (and there’s no end in sight just yet, folks).  We aren’t roughing it by any means.  We have a spacious bedroom and bathroom, and a home stocked with all the food, cable, and amenities that we could want.  But there are days when I just miss my stuff.  I actually miss my possessions less than I thought I would, but there are days when I miss my own kitchen utensils, my own decorations, and my own books.

There are also days when I just want my own space.  I’m not used to living with adults other than my husband, or children, or pets.  I’m not used to sharing the kitchen or tv.  I’m used to sleeping in on Saturdays, my own cleaning routines, and late evening dinners.

There have been times in the last three months when I have felt like a foreigner who’s living in an unfamiliar land.  There have been times in the last three months when I have longed for my own home.  And as I had another wave of that longing this week, it hit me that this feeling of being a foreigner who’s longing for home, is how I should feel all the time.

These last three months, many of my comforts have been stripped away – comforts like having job stability, knowing my way around a city, my possessions, my home…  And I’m finding that the longer all of that is stripped away, the more vulnerable and sensitive I become.

Because I haven’t had the stress of working and running a home, I’ve had more time to dedicate to prayer, reflection, and reading.  This season of discomfort has been an incredible time to remember my dependence on God and to remember that I’m not called to be comfortable anyway.

Adam and I have said many times that we want to live a simple life, that we don’t want to accrue too much, that we don’t want possessions to overrule us, but I think they do more than I would like to think.  Being without my stuff and my space has been a good reminder to me that my longing for home will never be fulfilled with an actual home (although a space of our own will be nice when we move there).

And in the midst of being reminded that my real home isn’t here anyway, I’ve been reflecting on the advent story, and how well those lessons go together…

It wasn’t comfortable for Jesus to leave heaven and come to earth to “make His home among us” (John 1:14).  I’m imagining what it was like for the Son of God to have to leave heaven for a very modest (at best) home, fit into a new family with a new mom and dad and then brothers and sisters, and eventually work a job as a carpenter…  When he was royalty, divine royalty at that.

I hope that as I continue to have pangs of longing for a home, I remember that my Savior didn’t model a life of comfort, if anything, he modeled a life of constant discomfort.  His advent is a reminder that our lives are to be bigger than our possessions, our job titles, and our homes because our lives are about a story much bigger than us.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

7 thoughts on “Living as a Foreigner

  1. I can certainly understand that feeling! Much as I have enjoyed the time we have spent with our families, it is always a little unsettling to be living out of a suitcase in someone else’s home. That and moving to a new city every couple of years can leave you quite unsettled. It has made me realize how much I look for comfort and belonging in my surroundings, when like you said, we aren’t meant to get all comfy-cozy here. That’s not the point! It’s good to be reminded of that, even if it’s difficult. I hope that this transition time won’t last forever though!! I’ve been thinking of you!

    1. Ruthie, you know all to well transitions! You literally are a foreigner. When I think of you and Kevin and Chip and Mal and other friends who are living out their callings abroad, I can’t help but think of that famous Jim Elliott quote, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”. Thank you for a life that reminds me and others that the Story is worth the sacrifice!

  2. Wow, Allison. That gave me chills. corny, but Carrie Underwood’s song, “Temporary Home” came to mind. It sounds like you are learning through this unique season.

    1. Kate, I have to confess I’d never heard that Carrie Underwood song before (I’m new to the south, don’t fault me just yet for not listening to country music), so I just listened to it (and of course I’m crying). Great lyrics and right where I’m at. Thanks for sharing!

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