This past year, I went away to a college that was about two hours away from my hometown. I came home about as much as any college student does...for special occasions and holidays (probably about once every two months, give or take). Whenever I did get to come home, it was only for a couple of days, three at the absolute most. So when I was home for this minuscule amount of time, barely even enough to adjust and catch my breath, I didn’t see any rational point in unpacking anything because I would just be putting everything right back in a day. So whenever I did get to come home, I lived out of a suitcase.
Recently, after lots of thought and prayer and attempted planning, I’ve decided to trade in my major university two hours away in exchange for a community college in my hometown. I have been back for about three weeks now, and allow me to give you a list of where there are boxes and trash bags full of my things: my closet, the floor, rooms that aren't mine, the hallway, and my car.
I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything in order. I’m the girl who lives by a planner, gets stressed if I’m late, and yes, you guessed it, loathes living in a messy space. With all of that said, I can hardly believe how little I’ve had things in order since I’ve been home. I’ve spent whole days not knowing what actual day it is, I don't even know where my planner is right now, and I definitely haven't gotten close to finding a place for everything I dragged back with me. And while I’m loving being home, knowing I’m in the exact place that I need to be in, I still can’t get a handle on being organized and back into a schedule.
This process - the call to move back home, the heart that had to grow to follow it, the sharing of the whats, whys and hows, and the reassurance of knowing that this is absolutely the place where I need to be - has all led to the last step.
Everything else fell into place so eloquently, so why is this part so hard? Why am I not excited to put everything in its place? Why do I get so overwhelmed so easily? Why do I have trouble going through the process of actually doing it, and officially finalizing my move?
It’s not for lack of effort. There have been feeble attempts at taking things out of boxes and bags and placing them in organized spaces, but the more I organize away, the more I realize that I feel like more things just keep showing up and shelves are quickly filled. It’s almost like I don't realize how much I actually have until I’m in the middle of it. And when I’m knee-deep in that realization, I feel crushed down by it all and give up.
Even still, why don't I have that drive to organize? Why don't I know that it will make me feel so much better when it’s complete? If I'm being completely honest, it just doesn't seem real.
Every time I made a trip home this year, there was always some tug on my heartstrings telling me not to go back, reminding me little by little to open up, drop my pride and listen to where I needed to be. Reminding me to trust. Assuring me that I’m in the middle of a perfect plan, and that all of the feelings that I was having were there for a reason.
But I ignored them all. I would pack up again. I would plan for a different life, one where I let my mind tell me where I needed to be and allowed my heart to suffer. I haven't fully accepted that I’m back for good, that I listened to those heartstrings. Truthfully, I still feel like the girl who lived out of a suitcase who will shortly have to pick everything up and leave again.
And then I tell myself that it’s easier to not unpack. Let’s be honest, I’ll probably move again in my lifetime. (It’s completely possible that I won’t, but probably.) And I will have to go through this entire exhausting process again, being called somewhere else, putting things back in boxes, and making the move. I don't know when and where that is going to happen; it could be in two months or 20 years, or never. I don't know, but I’m content not knowing. With that said, I’m content knowing this one thing: right now, in this moment, in the space where I am with the work that I am doing, I am home.
And that’s precisely why the unpacking has to happen. My home can’t be made complete until I find a place for everything that I’m keeping hidden away in boxes, some things that I don't even know that I have. And if I don’t even know that I have it, why would I ever still need to hang onto it?
The same is made true in our relationship with Jesus, our perfect form of love, who wants to desperately and relentlessly be our home. We can listen to Him all we want, we can follow Him to the ends of the earth and testify and lead others in discipleship and be discipled ourselves, and those are all magnificent parts of the journey. But when is that journey more than an exciting adventure of ever-changing and revealing facets of life? When is it taken to that feeling of wholeness and contentment alongside what feels like a spiritual roller coaster?
You guessed it, when we finally unpack.
You can experience the perfect love of our perfect God, witness how He performs miracles, and even have your life turned completely upside down by it, but you can’t make your home in Jesus until you unpack it all and put everything in the exact space where it's destined to go. And there is a space for every single thing. We have a God who will never ever fill the shelf space where our burdens are meant to go. He’s made a space for every single one that we will ever carry.
“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self —all your wishes and precautions — to Christ.”
- C.S. Lewis
Yes, it surely is. Terrifying to entrust someone with my failures and mistakes and burdens and future and dreams, some of which I don't even know that I have yet. In the same way that it seems impossible right now for me to unpack everything I own (when things continue to come out of what seems like nowhere), it seems impossible for me to unpack every single detail at the feet of Jesus. Things keep coming up. Things that I didn’t know I had.
I could wake up tomorrow with an assurance that my time here was meant to be short and needs to come to an end. I could not have an opportunity open up for me anywhere else for 50 years. Those are two major extremes, but they’re possible all the same. With all of this said, I don't think that unpacking has anything to do with the future. Unpacking, on the contrary, is something that needs to happen in order to truly and fully be in the present moment. Unpacking is what happens after parts of your life have been new or unexpected. Unpacking is what happens at the end of a long, exhausting process of moving. Unpacking is what happens when you know you’re back where you need to be. Where you need to stay.
Unpacking is what happens when you’re home.
Tori is 19 years old and is about to enter her sophomore year of college. She started blogging in her senior year of high school, and her passion for it has only grown since then! Her Myers Briggs personality is ENFJ, which basically means that she's loud with a desire to show love. She’s excited to dive into her summer as a Youth Ministry intern at EPIC; she absolutely loves getting to lead students in their journey and see their incredible hearts. She tries to look for God in everything, especially details, but sees Him the most in people and hears Him in stories, which moves her to keep writing more and more!