#61: Homeward Bound

#61: Homeward Bound

I have never been one for journaling regularly. As much as I love to hear myself think and share my thoughts with the world at large – or any poor soul within earshot — you’d think I would be. But for whatever reason, I’m just not.

I kind of envy people who do journal consistently, especially when they tell me about pulling out an old journal and reading their thoughts from five, ten, twenty years ago.

It’s because of this envy that I was thrilled a few days ago to discover that my parents had a copy of an e-mail I wrote ten years ago.  They had printed it out and taken it to my grandmother, and we all know grandmothers never throw anything away. As a matter of fact, I wrote this e-mail on April 14, 2003, which is a few days off from being ten years ago to the day that you’re reading this.

What made it more exciting for me is that it was not just any e-mail. Rather, it was written on the brink of a major life change: the end of my two-year missionary stint in Romania, and my return to the States and an uncertain future. Had I been keeping a journal at the time, this would surely have been an entry.

So here’s a little snapshot of Susan, ten years ago this week, balancing between two worlds.


I have a memory of being around six years of age and having a favorite outfit. It was a pair of purple shorts that we called ‘hotpants’ and a purple, thin-striped knit shirt – the kind of coordinating children’s outfit that Garanimals were known for in those days. As I remember it, I would come home from school and go straight to the little white chest of drawers in my bedroom and pull out the much-loved outfit to wear. Almost 30 years have passed now, so my memory may be skewed the way childhood memories often are. But I do remember the outfit. I can picture in my mind even now the shade of purple and the feel of the material. If I remember correctly, I would change into the shorts every day. It may not have been that often, but I’ve no doubt that it was still much more often than my mother would have liked to have washed them.  Yep—that was a great outfit.

I don’t remember the last time I wore the purple hotpants and matching top. I don’t know if there was a moment when I realized I had outgrown them. I somehow doubt it. Six year-olds don’t usually realize these things the way the rest of us do. Perhaps my mother realized it and simply removed them from my drawer without my noticing. Maybe I did notice and begged to keep wearing them. Maybe I grieved the loss of my purple hotpants the way a child grieves the loss of a beloved stuffed animal.

I’ve always been that way. Creature of habit, lover of routine, wearer of one-tenth of my wardrobe. Some may say I’m resistant to change. I say if the purple hotpants still fit, why not wear them?

Victory square, Timisoara

Four weeks from today I leave Romania, my adopted home for the past two years. Already the strain is there – the strain between looking forward to change and yearning for routine, between the excitement of the unknown and the comfort of the known. It’s an odd position to be in, playing host to so many conflicting thoughts and emotions. I have times of being so ready to move on and see what God has for me next. I also have times of almost overwhelming sadness at the thought of leaving. I know I’m growing and changing, but I just want to hang onto my purple hotpants.

Last Tuesday, I spent the evening with Cornel and Amalia. Making my way to the door, I couldn’t help but notice that the ‘goodbye’ was stretching out longer than usual. Finally, Amalia said what we were all thinking. “I feel sad that you are leaving. I miss you already.”

My walk home that evening was a leisurely one. Passing by the team office, I noticed a light in the window and kept walking, content to wonder who was on the computer at that hour. A glance across the street and up to the dim, flickering light of a television in Sarah and Cristina’s place made me smile. People and places that, foreign as they may be, have become as familiar and comfortable as anything I’ve ever known.

I’ve come to believe the strain I feel is really just a part of homesickness, not for any earthly domain, but rather, homesickness for heaven. It’s a yearning for the time when there will be no more packing up and moving out like Abraham to an unknown destination. It’s a longing for the day there will be no more painful goodbyes to say or tears to shed. It’s a yearning for the day I’ll hang my hat and kick off my shoes and settle down for good at the feet of Jesus.

But I’m not home yet. So until then? “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)

And maybe, just maybe, when I get there, I’ll find a pair of purple hotpants waiting for me.

Your fellow traveler,


In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers may serve. ~ Thomas Wilde






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