When you Long for Home as a Place to Belong

Out of Place – Corella’s Story

My eyes traveled from one white wall to the next, each devoid of any character save the empty screw-heads and the holes where photos once hung. I had been eager to hit the reset button on our lives in Thailand, resettling our family in a new house with a bigger yard for the kids and a few less street cat fights at night, but now that I faced the enormity of recreating home, I felt stuck.

Do I use the same old mishmash of decorations that hung on our old walls? Do I invest the effort and money into attempting a Pinterest-worthy living room? Why do I even care so much about this nesting process and creating beauty in my house?

The questions rattled more in my chest than in my head until finally, after a bit of a stand-off with my husband (who wanted to hang a bamboo ladder from the ceiling to create an indoor jungle-gym for our kiddos), I realized that I was once again grappling with the idea of home.

I want my home to be a place that invites friendship, peace, play, and rest. I want it to reflect my care, my love, even my values. And most of all, I want it to be a place where me and my family can feel we truly belong. 

A Global Nomad’s Search for Home

Perhaps as a missionary living overseas this idea of belonging feels especially elusive. We don’t have extended family to belong to here; we don’t have the familiar sights and sounds and smells of our childhood culture; we don’t even have permission to stay in this country for more than one year at a time according to the stamp in our passport which must be renewed annually. When I watch my daughter’s curly blond hair bounce through a sea of straight black locks at the market, it’s fairly obvious: we don’t belong.

And I’m okay with that. We’ve embraced this out of place life that God has chosen for us, and we do the best we can to lean into the differences and unique experiences that are shaping our family here. But that desire for belonging is hardwired into our souls, and I still find myself aching to create something homey out of these empty walls. It’s as Christie Purifoy says in her beautiful book, Placemaker, that we “begin to learn the costs of stepping into the role God first gave in a garden: to be, like Adam and Eve, the makers and caretakers of a particular place.” 

So, I think I’ll go ahead and paint that wall a steely blue to create a sense of serenity. We’ll put up a basketball hoop outside to invite an atmosphere of play. And we’ll hang family pictures to remember our most cherished relationships, whether they are right here under our roof, miles across the ocean, or awaiting us in heaven.


The mention of that word stops my soul in it’s homemaking tracks. Somehow, all of these longings for home and the sense of belonging, familiarity, comfort, rest, and joy that it brings, will all make sense on the other side of eternity. The swelling desire to create and steward beauty is there as a reflection of the One who makes all things beautiful in their time. And that time is coming, when “[we] shall see his face; and his name shall be written on [our] foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will be [our] light; and [we] shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22: 4-5 TLB)

Somehow, all of these longings for home and the sense of belonging, familiarity, comfort, rest, and joy that it brings, will all make sense on the other side of eternity.

Home is Now and Not Yet

I am convinced that Jesus is my home in so much more than a wispy spiritual sense. He has gone to prepare a place for me in his father’s house. The kingdom of heaven and the comfort of the Holy Spirit are mine right now, but the longing–the insatiable ache–I have for home will one day be satisfied in a very real and tangible sense.

If the glimpses I’ve received of God’s goodness and extravagant kindness here are any shadow of my heavenly abode, then I’d even dare to say that my eternal home will carry remnants of the best parts of each of my earthly homes: it will smell like pine trees, feel like a cool ocean breeze, and look like the lush tropical foliage I love. It will be a place of laughter and worship, purpose and passion, and perhaps even lazy days in a hammock. In my heavenly home, I will finally and completely belong because there, for all eternity, I will dwell in the safety and beauty of his presence.

What kind of home does your heart long for? How can you both cherish the caretaking role God has given you here while at the same time remember the hope of your eternal home in heaven?

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to belonging-themed scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!

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Meet Corella Roberts

Corella Roberts makes her home in Northern Thailand where she and her husband partner with an international school to “Serve the Servants.” Their first missionary teaching assignment landed them in the remote bush of Alaska, which you can read about in her newly released book, Colliding with the Call. From tundra to tropics, her life of following Jesus has been nothing less than story-worthy, and she loves using her experiences to encourage others to connect deeply with God at corellaroberts.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, or meandering their local produce market in search of mangosteen and lychee fruit. 

*Feature Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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