My husband paused and moved away from the camera to compose himself. His voice still shaky, he resumed sharing his testimony about how God had provided a new home for us. I was surprised to see Simon get emotional. I had viewed our virtual housewarming gathering as a happy occasion to be celebrated with family and close friends, but it struck me that it was a bittersweet moment.

We were not just any American family becoming homeowners. We were and are immigrants.

My Home

Born and raised in India, Simon and I moved to the U.S. in 2008 shortly after we got married. Because of Simon’s work, we moved from city to city, living in rented apartments. We’ve lived in eleven homes and seven cities across two continents over the past fifteen years. In 2021, two years after Simon found a job in northern California that did not require travel, we decided to buy a house.

I never had buyer’s remorse regarding our new house, like some homeowners. I was happy to not have to move again. I did not have to store moving boxes. We could display art and wallpaper on the walls without worrying about causing damage. And I could include a dog in our family. No permission required from landlords. I was excited to just settle down, put down roots.

Buying a home can mean different things for different people. For immigrants in America, becoming homeowners can signal they’re closer to realizing the American dream. Owning a house can solidify their intention to call this this country home. Immigrants can perceive the purchase of a house as an important milestone in their journey to assimilate, in their yearning for belonging. But for many immigrants like Simon and me, our real estate is also a reminder that we have left behind our former homes.

The underlying sadness of replacing our homeland with another will probably always stay with us, cemented in between rooms and walls. Our Zoom housewarming ceremony highlighted the complexity of our immigrant experience, the co-existence of happiness and loss and rootedness and homesickness.

Home Redefined

But as family and friends across two continents prayed and worshipped together, I became aware that our house was simply a temporary earthly treasure which did not belong to us in the first place. It was God’s gift to us to not only enjoy but also use for His kingdom purposes. If I thought I had somehow gained a stable and permanent home, I was misguided.

This earthly house, prone to destruction and deterioration, could never satisfy my deep longing for rootedness because it is only a shadow of my future home in heaven.

Can we truly call any physical structure or geographical location on earth home?

Followers of Jesus are spiritual immigrants whose journey on earth is short and temporary. The apostle Paul reminds us in that we are citizens of God’s kingdom,

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20 (ESV).

The author of Hebrews also suggests that believers who live by faith must emulate their biblical forefathers who saw themselves as strangers and exiles on earth (Hebrews 11:13). Hebrews 11 lists the bold achievements and radical lifestyles of biblical heroes who held on loosely to the things of the world, setting their sights on their heavenly calling and God’s plans.

Abraham obeyed God’s call and left his home in Ur where he was comfortably settled, owned property and possessions, and probably maintained strong ties with the community (Genesis 12:1-5). He became an immigrant, his journey fueled by faith in God’s promises,

By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:9-10 (ESV).

Heavenly Home

Like the biblical patriarchs, we too can embrace our pilgrim journey on earth while we look ahead to our destination. The new heaven and new earth will be our permanent home where we will live with God and God’s people forever:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” Revelation 21:1-2 (ESV).

Our heavenly home will meet all our needs for belonging, stability, and security.

My husband and I are immigrants who’ve had the privilege of making our earthly home in the U.S. We’re grateful to God for providing us a place of shelter and refuge. But I hope I never feel settled here because I’m a spiritual immigrant too. Instead of chasing after the American dream, I want to pursue God’s plans for my journey and focus on accomplishing His will for me. I hope I always bear in mind that a glorious home awaits me when my journey on earth is complete.


Reflect:

  • Where is home for you?
  • How can reflecting on your future home in heaven change the way you live in the present?

If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, read my book, Far from Home: Discovering Your Identity as Foreigners on Earth. You can buy a copy on Amazon here.

Image - Lead Magnet - Discover Your Immigrant Identity

Discover Your Spiritual Immigrant Identity

Use this Bible reading plan and devotion to unlock the secret to a purposeful and hope-filled life.

Providing your name and email will automatically make you a member of my inner circle. You will receive exclusive freebies, latest blog posts, and updates on my writing via email once or twice a month.

You have Successfully Subscribed!