We recently sold my childhood home. It was the home my mother dreamed of and the home my father worked hard to provide for his family. Along with the relief of the sale came emotions I wasn’t prepared for: grief, a sense of loss, and a longing for days gone by.
I’m in my early thirties now, with a husband, two children, and a home of my own. I haven’t lived in my childhood home since I was 18 years old and first set out for college, and yet I’ve felt a major loss in recent weeks. As the closing date approaches and we prepare to hand that home over to a new family, leaving it behind once and for all, it feels as though I’m closing the final chapter on an entire Act of my life. The Act that included making friends I still consider to be my closest, the awkward years of middle school, and the final days of my father before he passed away. If the walls of that home could talk, they would tell tales of decades of Christmas Eve family dinners, countless sleepovers, late nights scrambling to finish school projects, and yes, the painful memories of an adjustment to life without my dad.
For me, my childhood home was a place of refuge and rest, and yet also a place of tremendous growth and growing pains. Proverbs 24:3-4 says this, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Realizing how to cope with the feelings of loss I was experiencing began with beginning to understand what made that home so special. It was not the furniture, decor, or collected items that inhabited its nooks and crannies, but rather the lessons we learned within those walls, the wisdom that came from watching my parents raise three children, and the treasure my father gifted me of a deep faith in God.
I knew that my memories weren’t tethered to that house. I knew that the lessons I learned there wouldn’t be erased once it belonged to a new family. I knew my father wasn’t in that home anymore and that my mother staying there was never going to bring him back. And yet, there was a gnawing feeling in my heart that we were leaving behind an entire life… abandoning something we once were.
This isn’t the first time change has inspired feelings of loss and worry in my life. But as I’ve grown spiritually, I’m no longer satisfied with simply accepting my feelings and allowing them to control how I think. I wanted to know why so often big changes bring about feelings of grief and anxiety. As I began to pray about it, the Holy Spirit revealed both an intricate pattern of lies from the enemy as well as a spiritual truth from Him that my soul was identifying with.
It begins here, with identifying the catalyst for our feelings. So often, how we react to situations is not random, but rather a pattern of habits developed over time, shaped by truth and lies. For me, the enemy has long crafted a lie in my heart that the past is comfortable and that the future is not trustworthy. When it comes to things in the past, we have certainty and the unique ability to repaint events with rose-colored glasses. The future, however, was another story. The enemy had led me to believe that it is full of uncertainty and that it cannot be trusted. This lie serves a unique purpose: to keep us stagnant, unwilling to grow, unwilling to move forward towards the promises of our future or the fulfillment of a purpose God has designed us for. Living in the past robs us of our future.
But I also believe God understands our nature to grieve transitions and change. That’s because what makes change difficult for so many of us is the fact that we are constantly being reminded that nothing of this world is eternal. The sequence of our lives reflects this truth as we transition from various stages of life–infancy through our elder years, without so much as a nod of acknowledgment from time. And so often when we grieve these events or transitions, it’s because deep within our soul we long for a place of stability, unchanged by time, unmarred by pain or disruption. Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and earth embodies every bit of the stability we yearn for, for He is “…the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).
I believe God has deep mercy for these feelings of loss and the journeys of grief we all walk through many times in this life. I believe He is close to us as we mourn the loss of a childhood home, a dream job, or that relationship we thought was forever…but, I believe He calls us to walk through that grief in its fullness, not to set up camp there. It’s when we decide to stay there longer than we should that the enemy can plant more lies in our hearts, again making us believe it’ll never be as good as it once was.
Walking through transitions and change with eyes on the Lord can look a lot like remembering and reciting scriptural truth over ourselves. We long for stability and a home that is unchanging because that is ultimately the eternal Heavenly home we were made for. The apostle Paul describes “a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made by hands.” (2 Cor. 5:1)
We have the promise of inheriting a home that is not conformed or confined by the terms of this world, nor the fragility of humanity itself. John describes heaven as a city that “… has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21: 23-25). In our final home in heaven, there will be no darkness, no pain, no loss– just the fullness and perfection of the glory of God.
When you are experiencing a change in the seasons of life, whether it was planned for or suddenly thrust upon you, I challenge you to examine the way this makes you feel. If, like me, you find yourself dreading change, take those thoughts and emotions and interrogate them alongside the Holy Spirit. Oftentimes our emotions are signal fires to spiritual truths from God and occasionally, lies from the enemy at work to rob us of joy and peace.
Going through the motions without diving deeper into our feelings can result in a pattern of thoughts that are counter to God’s word. Instead, go to scripture and speak God’s truth over your life; The Word is very clear that God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. Pray and declare these truths over yourselves daily and ask God to transform your own thoughts to align with His word and His promises.
This past year has seen many experience loss or, at times, painful transitions. Some have lost their jobs or their businesses. Others have lost loved ones or the fellowship with family and friends. Perhaps you’ve felt somewhat like I have these past few weeks, at some point in this last year. I do believe that sense of loss and longing for how things used to be is very much our souls longing for our heavenly home.
The Holy Spirit has been mending my heart and transforming my mind from a yearning for a return to how things used to be to a yearning for what is to come. Scripture is clear on this: “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20) We were never meant to stay here (or in any one particular stage here), and although at times we grieve the loss of things here on this earth, whether that’s a home, a job or a loved one, our minds and hearts should be fixed on Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and earth who embodies every bit of the stability we yearn for, for He is “the same yesterday, today and forevermore.” (Hebrews 13:8)
So, as the closing date approaches on the sale of my childhood home (and on the part of our lives that occurred there), I hold to this final truth: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) I’m choosing to move forward with confidence about my future rooted in Christ, grateful for the past with its memories and lessons, but no longer believing that change is something to fear.