My entire life I have woken up in my parent’s house on Christmas morning. For my growing up years it was because I lived there, but since adulthood I’ve made the trip home to spend Christmas with my family. Even when Daniel and I got married, we chose Christmas as the holiday we would spend with my family. I love all of the traditions, the food, the familiarity, and the company that my family brings. I love them and I love being with them at Christmas.
But this year we aren’t going home for Christmas, and as the days quickly move closer to December 25, I’m growing increasingly sad that we won’t be there. It’s not like I won’t have family around. I have my own family now, and I am very much looking forward to the traditions we will start with our kids, but there is a part of me that aches for the past.
How do you hold the excitement for the future along with the longing for the past?
This is what I’m wrestling with this Christmas season. But I think it is what we wrestle with the entirety of our lives. As children, we have no understanding that the wonder and joy we experience will one day give way to the reality of adulthood. People move on. Relationships change. Work, family, and outside commitments eventually shift us away from many of the things we held dear as a child. As children, we find comfort in safety and routine. But I don’t think adults are much different. We are creatures of habit. We like to feel safe. We tend to resist change. We tend to long for home and familiarity, even if it’s only a figment of our imagination.
Part of growing older is coming to terms with our finiteness (we can’t be in two places at one, we can’t do it all), but also coming to terms with the fact that even the homes we love the best are a passing thing. Even the traditions we cling to at Christmas time will one day either be forgotten or come to an end. For the more sentimental among us, it pains us to see this happen.
Deep within us we know that this ache should not be. It is reminding us that all is not well, that we were made for something better. We are all longing for a place we can call home, but what we are truly longing for is our eternal home (John 14:2). We were made for safety, communion, and never having to say goodbye. God created us to be in perfect fellowship with him and one another. With every tearful goodbye we are crying out for the fellowship that never ends, where there are no more tears and no more goodbyes (Rev. 21:4).We only see my parents a few times a year and every time we leave (or they leave us) my heart breaks again. The time we spend reminds me of what I’m missing, and my heart aches for us all to be together. We may long for our earthly parents and family this Christmas, but for the believer we are also longing for our heavenly Father to bring us home to him forever.
This is why we feel the ache. Even the best home is not eternal. Who hasn’t spent their childhood in a beloved home only to see it sold in adulthood? Every good thing in this broken, passing away world is coming to an end one day. But the home we are waiting for will not ever pass away. For those of us in Christ, we will one day be together, where goodbye will never come from our lips again.