You Can Always Come Home
by Kay McDaniel

You Can Always Come Home
You Can Always Come Home
The day was long and sweat poured from our faces as we unloaded another box. This was the last place I thought I would land!

The expansiveness of LSUís campus only compelled me to draw near to momís cocoon of love, dashing any resemblance of independency. For the last 6 years, as a top tennis player, I had the privilege of globetrotting across America smashing tennis balls. How could I feel so homesick?

fter the last bag was shoved in the dorm, mom and I plopped in the booth of an unfamiliar restaurant. The music banged against the walls like a ball in a pin ball machine as we consumed cheeseburgers and fries. We ate in silence, watching the rain pellets hit the window panes. I was already lonely and mom hadnít left yet!

Seventy-two hours earlier I had no clue I would be attending college, let alone to a huge university on the other side of the state. It didnít help matters that I was three weeks late for registration, two weeks tardy for classes, and years late in excitement. Would I sink or swim?

Where You Lead, I Will Follow
Where You Lead, I Will Follow
While LSUís academic semester was in full session I had been playing tennis as an amateur on the professional tennis circuit. For eleven years, my ultimate dream was to turn professional upon graduation from high school; college was the last thing on my mind. So, why was I here? This didnít match
my well-constructed plans.

To increase the impact of the shock, the only dorm vacancy was the oldest on campus, which I later affectionately named the ďDungeon." My assigned room was buried in the musty basement with no windows or air conditioning. It was mid-August in the Bayou State and temperature and humidity can be so high one drips sweat just thinking about it. Iím ready to pick up my belongings and go home.

While waiting for the restaurant bill, tears fell mimicking the rain outside. I was seriously questioning the sanity of my decision. Homesickness is a real phenomenon; just ask a freshman who is one heart ache away from all that is safe and good.

The dreaded time had arrived for momís departure. A gut-wrenching nausea swept over me. The fear of the unknown was gaining ground, vying to block any excitement of the future. With tears streaming down Momís cheek, she tightly embraced me and tenderly whispered in my ear, ďKay, you can always come home."

Ray of Hope
Ray of Hope
Those six simple words would buoy at the most difficult times. Little did Mom know that they would repeatedly encourage my deflated spirit. Whenever apprehension flooded my thoughts, which were ample the first six months, my heart wrapped around those endearing words like a raft jacket. They formed an emotional safety net, catching spiraling falls derived by low self-confidence. Words of encouragement during vulnerable times can usher a wellspring of hope and comfort. Just knowing the net was underneath helped me face my insecurities.

Times like these remind us that weíre only fleeting citizens on this earth, much like students in temporary housing in college. At the moment we gave our hearts to God, this world ceased to be our home. We have a different destiny, a higher calling, and we are heaven-bound.

Yet, until we hit the welcome mat of heaven, we walk through unfamiliar territory. The popular author, Max Lucada penned it perfectly, ďThe problem with this world is that it doesnít fit. Oh, it will do for now, but it isnít tailor-made. We were made to live with God, but on earth we live by faith. We were made to live forever, but on this earth we live but for a moment. We were made to live holy lives, but this world is stained by sin. This world wears like a borrowed shirt. Heaven, however, will fit like one tailor-made.Ē

So, when your belongings have been dumped in the dorm and you wonder what the future holds, realize you are in good company. Abraham, Moses, and Esther stepped out in faith when they left their comfort zone to follow God. Focus on Jesus and seek His Word and although you have moved to a new place, God remains unchanged.

The story of the prodigal son gives comfort when you feel a long way off from home. No matter your wanderings, if you will turn to God, He will not only supply your needs (the fattened calf), but dress you in the finest ware for the occasion (best robe, ring, and sandals), and bring others to share in your blessings (throw you a party). The good news? The Father is at the door welcoming you homeward, truly, our home is where the Father is.

Now, itís my turn to wipe tears from the face of frightened college students. As a university professor, I embrace them and gently whisper, ďWhen it gets too tough, you can always come home.Ē


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