Tag Archives: heaven

A Longing Unfulfilled

Some moments are so beautiful that you almost find yourself dreading their passing before they’ve even ended.

You sit and soak it all in, because you know this is all you have. You can’t bottle it up. A picture can never convey the way you feel in this moment—complete, content, satisfied.

If you told me to think of one of these moments, I could flash back to several in my mind. Moments I tried to capture, but couldn’t—not fully.

I remember one Christmas season in particular. I was home on winter break from college. It was Christmas Eve and we were all opening presents, as is tradition in my family. I remember hearing the Christmas music, noticing the glow of the Christmas lights, and watching all my brothers and sisters open their gifts.  Sitting there on my fold out bed in the middle of the living room, I just remember feeling so content, so full. But I also felt a strange pang of sadness, because I knew that moment had to end—that life would not always feel that way.

christmas tree 3

Because, sometimes life is made up of other moments—moments of longing. Times when you look back on those moments of contentment, trying to grasp them—to make them materialize into something real and concrete. If you can grow them, just maybe, they will fill you. Maybe… you will be satisfied.

I know this feeling all too well. When things get hard or stressful, I live in those moments. Today, I spent a good ten minutes or so just looking through my dad’s pictures, wanting to be home and missing my family. I’m a trained expert in nostalgia, flashing back through my Rolodex of photographic memories at every whim. In a moment, I’m back.

But back where? I’m inside a memory, and a false one at that, painted over with a golden hue and infused with the emotion I’ve given it every time I’ve recalled it.

Our memories are not bad. We should remember Christmases with our families, the good parts of a relationship, and the beautiful parts of a growing friendship. There is beauty in those moments, but the beauty doesn’t come because those moments last.

Polaroid at the Beach
The beauty comes because those moments are fleeting. They are for a second and you will never get them back; but for that glorious second, you can catch a glimpse of glory. In that moment, you can catch what it feels like to belong, to be loved, to be full and complete, filled and overflowing in every way.

And those glimpses are beautiful because they point to a time when we will be complete.

Our families on earth are not perfect, but we know what it’s like to long for that. We know what it’s like to cling to the moments that are good and block out the memories that hurt. We know what it’s like to want to belong and what it’s like to long for home.

We know what it’s like to long for a relationship or a friendship. We want to know someone and be known. We want to know that, at the core of who we are, we are truly loved and accepted.

Our longings are strong. Sometimes we choose to feel them, sometimes we choose to deny them, and sometimes we run to fill them with something that can’t hold the weight of our heart.

When I feel these longings—the cries of my heart to be accepted, to be loved—I remember the one place where I have been truly loved and recklessly pursued. I remember that Jesus chose to give Himself for me while I was deliberately and intentionally hurting him.

I remember that he adopted me and calls me daughter.

I remember that he gave me grace and freedom from the things that enslaved me.

I remember that he pursued me with a reckless abandon.

I remember that He created me and knows me more fully than any human ever could.

He knows me, the real me, the worst parts of me…

and yet…

… He still loves me.

He calls me home and that is where I belong. Every desire I have that is unfulfilled, every pang of loneliness I feel will be met in Him one day. He has given me friends and family, joy and beauty, in this life; but it doesn’t end here.

I rejoice in my unfulfilled longings, because they point me to a day when I will finally exclaim, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”*

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“I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy. The most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

*From ‘The Last Battle’ by C.S. Lewis, his seventh book in the Chronicles of Narnia series

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“Tell That One About Heaven”

Every year, I live in a different place–a new apartment, a new address. This summer I lived in a hotel in Central Asia for a month and a half. So when I heard my family and I were moving to Santa Cruz, I thought it wouldn’t affect me much. I’m hardly ever home anyways. I don’t even go to Calvary Chapel Gilroy for the majority of the year, because I’m here at school. “It will really affect my family more than it will affect me,” I kept telling people. “How are you doing with it all?” people kept asking. I would always respond, “It’s really crazy, but I know God’s in it. It will be good.”

All of that is true. God is in this move, and it will be good. I believe that with all my heart. But that answer did not prepare me for the tears that came last Sunday at church. It was my family’s last Sunday at the church we started 12 years ago. Old friends flew out, we had a huge reunited worship band up on stage… and I could not take it. I could not get the words out, I was so choked up. I left the sanctuary during worship to calm down and get some water; and when I came back in and saw my church family worshipping together, I lost it. I was sobbing. And that was not going to be the last time I cried.

We watched a slide show of the last twelve years of Calvary Chapel Gilroy and I was undone. I cried watching all the pictures of people whom I never realized I loved so much. There were baptisms, church camps, barbecues. I remembered that crazy move in the middle of the night, when our church came together to move all our stuff until three in the morning. I remembered that Sunday school class. I remembered helping my mom paint those palm leaves. And more than that, I remembered the hearts behind all that. I’ve seen people truly find life and life more abundantly in Jesus Christ. I’ve seen strong friendships formed, and I found a family bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.

When I moved to college, I missed my family so much. It wasn’t until I left them that I realized how much I loved them and how hard it was to be away from them. And now, I’m realizing the same hard and beautiful truth. I didn’t realize how much I loved everyone at Calvary Chapel Gilroy until I had to leave. I can’t tell you how closely my heart is knit to every person at CCG. I’m going to miss the hugs on Sunday mornings and all the people I’ve known for so long. I’m going to miss hearing people say a million times, “How is school?,” “When are you going back?”, or “We’re praying for you.” And knowing they meant it. And these people care about me. I’ve never doubted that. What a blessing it is to have a huge family who loves you, who prays for you, and who is bonded together with a common love for the same Savior.

Even though I’m here at USC right now and I’m busy with school and ministry on campus, I’m still thinking about this move and about the home and family I am leaving at Calvary Chapel Gilroy. And you know what I realized? I think God gives us family and homes and churches to give us a flicker of what life will be like someday. This feeling of home is just a snapshot of what we have to look forward to. All of us who know Jesus are living for eternity, waiting for heaven. And because of this, we have purpose. We have hope.

I am reminded of Lenny and George in Of Mice and Men. They work and work, because they have a dream of having a home someday- of living in peace and companionship with each other. As they work long hours, day after day, they are sustained by this hope.

An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that George.”

Don’t we all want to feel like we have a home? Like there is a place where we belong?

In Revelation, John has a vision where he says,

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 6:9-10, ESV)

This is home. This is where we belong. This is where my whole family in Christ, those at Calvary Chapel Gilroy, those at Calvary Chapel Santa Cruz, and those from around the world whom I never met; will come together and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Leaving friends and family is hard, but having them in the first place is a blessing I could never measure. It’s a glimpse of my true home. And when life gets tough, when moving is hard; I can look upwards and say, “Tell that one about heaven again.”

Video for My Family
(My dad my made this video for my family. It’s to the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips. I started crying during the first three notes..)

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You can follow me on twitter @bekahvalencia. Thanks for reading!

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