Eight thousand miles from home … but still at home

In today’s column, a young woman who moved from Zambia to the United States shares how homesickness disappeared as she learned a lesson about the deeper meaning of home.

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“Don’t worry,” my mum told me, as I packed my bags for America. “This is going to change your life for the better. I promise.”

As I sat through the 36 hours of travel from my home in Lusaka, Zambia, to a boarding school in the US, all I could do was repeat her words to myself. In spite of her reassurances, I was worried.

I thought of my family and friends back home in Zambia. How would I live without them? How was I going to find home and a sense of belonging in a place that was totally unfamiliar?

In Lusaka, I had been known as loving and kind because of the “forever smile” I always had on my face. “Busiwa,” someone had observed once, “it’s so easy for you to make friends. You’re always happy and helping everyone all the time.” I wondered, Would this “gift” that I had be enough to make new friends in my new school?

Once I got to school, I was with my mum for a few days before she flew back home. I thought I was doing OK with the adjustment, but once she left, I felt as if I had completely lost my sense of home, and I thought I was never going to feel as if I belonged.

One night, when I was feeling quite stressed out with schoolwork and was thinking about home a little too much, I talked to my house mom. Like me, she is a Christian Scientist, and she shared a helpful passage from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. It says: “Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections” (p. 58).

My house mom was very supportive, and she comforted me as I sat there thinking about this passage. I wanted to understand this bigger sense of home as a spiritual idea rather than a place and to feel at peace. It occurred to me that no physical distance could determine how close to or far away from home we are when we think of home as an expression of God’s love for us. We can feel God’s love anywhere because God is everywhere. So we can also feel the security and comfort of home wherever we go.

When I was struggling, I also called my mum and told her how I was feeling. She reminded me that God, our spiritual Father-Mother, is always with me and loves me and doesn’t cause me to feel sad, lonely, or agitated. I couldn’t lose God’s love by going to a new place because the love of God is boundless.

A hymn I know was also very helpful to me. It was from the “Christian Science Hymnal.” I especially love the first two verses:

Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee,
Heir of the ages and child of the day.
Cared for, watched over, beloved and protected,
Walk thou with courage each step of the way.

Truthful and steadfast though trials betide thee,
Ever one thing do thou ask of thy Lord,
Grace to go forward, wherever He guide thee,
Gladly obeying the call of His word.
(No. 278, adapt. © CSBD)

That hymn summed up the whole idea of what home really is in a way that I had never considered before. One day, as I read it again, I felt such overwhelming peace and love that I knew right then that I had been healed of homesickness. I felt so sure that home is within me, just as the hymn says, because we can never be separated from God, divine Love. So all the joy, comfort, and love I could ever need were surrounding me, and God was guiding and protecting me every step of the way.

I have since found my smile again, as well as many new friends. And I can say not only that this experience has changed my life for the better, but that I am even happier and more grateful than before because I have truly found home.

A version of this article ran in the Christian Science Sentinel’s online TeenConnect section, March 8, 2018.

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