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.
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.
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…
… 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!”*
“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