Tag Archives: nostalgia

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.

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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.

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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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I Can’t Deny the Beauty

What are you looking for? Right now. In your quiet thoughts, when you’re riding your bike to school, when you’re working… What are you dreaming about? As you’re scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, what are you wishing you had? What are those moments you wish you could visit again–the ones you relive every night when your head hits the pillow?

The other day, when I was feeling homesick for the first time since being in Madrid, I started thinking about moments–mostly past moments. I was in one of those terribly nostalgic moments fit for a tumblr post, so I turned on some Tay Swift and started journaling (No shame). And I was thinking about how moments are so precious because they are fleeting–how I can never again experience those happy sepia toned moments I treasure in my mind.

However, the irony of it all is that as I was writing about those moments, I was in a moment. I was looking out the window of a bus at the beautiful city of Madrid.

The irony is that while I’m stuck in nostalgia or fixed on the future, I’m missing the beauty all around me. We are constantly living an adventure. Life is a beautiful romance and life is made up of moments–not only moments in the past and in the future, but moments in the present. The now is full of beauty and you don’t have to leave the country to experience it.

I used to feel a bit guilty being joyful. I would be loving life, smiling at the sun, and spinning while I walked; then suddenly I would wonder if that’s okay. There is so much suffering in the world and I have friends who are going through so much pain. Suddenly I would feel guilty.

However, God did not create us to be sad people. When God created the world, he declared that it was good. He made sunsets, waterfalls, laughter, flowers, giraffes and elephants. How could such a creative God be upset when we enjoy his beauty? And He didn’t stop there. After, he made us. We, human beings, are the pinnacle of his creation. He created all of us to be unique–with our own sense of adventure, with love in our hearts, and with an appreciation for the beauty around us.

I can’t deny the suffering around me, but likewise, I can’t deny the beauty. This quote by John Ortberg helped me finally reconcile the joy and sorrow that simultaneously exist in my heart:

“‘God is the happiest being in the universe.’ God also knows sorrow. Jesus is remembered, among other things, as ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ But the sorry of God, like the anger of God is his temporary response to a fallen world… Joy is God’s basic character. Joy is his eternal destiny… And God’s intent was that his creation would mirror his joy.”

There is a time to weep and mourn, but there is also a time to laugh and dance. The problem comes when I’m weeping and mourning for a time that has passed or a time that is yet to come. In the midst of my tears, I’m missing the time that God has given me.

When I live in the moment, in the now–when I step outside of my weary and worried mind, I notice that every part of creation is shouting with His joy.

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Our lives always feel like we’re in a transition. We’re waiting for high school, college, marriage, a job, kids, enough money to travel. We are waiting for our adventure to start, but this life is our adventure. Maybe you don’t have everything figured out and it’s driving you crazy, but that’s what makes life an adventure. Entrust it to God and live in the now.

Lives are made up of moments, and right now, you’re in one.

So stop waiting for an adventure. You’re living it. Stop waiting for romance. You’re in the middle of one. Look at the beauty around you. Notice the trees, the sun, the wind. Listen to the music that stirs your soul. Go for a run, a walk, play some tennis. Create something.

Step outside of your routine and notice the people around you–the people on your morning bus or the homeless man that’s always sleeping on your street. Love generously. Rejoice in the beauty of the people God has created. Spend time with friends. Close your Facebook and go for a drive. Send someone a note, telling them what you appreciate about them.

Smile while you walk and laugh out loud. Maybe do a little spin.

Don’t be afraid to rejoice in beauty. We were made for this.

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