A Place Called Elsewhere

“And the rumble of the train tracks was no longer an occasional distant sound but a constant buzz in the heart that created an ache for a different time and different place. The call of the void. The run to elsewhere.”

Discontentment has strangely been the theme of my current semester thus far.  Junior year has proved itself drastically different from my freshman and sophomore Mississippi College experience. In the words of lead singer Roger Daltrey from The Who, “It’s just not fun any more.”

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The newness of college life has worn off with the monotonous predictability of each week. There is a, “damp, dreary November in my soul.” (Herman Melville, Moby Dick) L’appel du vide: the call of the void, a yearning for the unknown, for the jump, for the fall, a mystery tugging at my heart.

I am different from most. Much of my life, I have lived out of the country in the upper-northern mountains of Guatemala. Although my skin is white, as is my parents’, and English is my first language, I do not consider myself fully American.

Like a girl who has grown up in a ship out at sea, I was raised abroad. The constant toss of the waves and unknown weather became my home, but I returned to live “on land” in the U.S. An explorer at heart, I loved the new adventure of college, especially meeting people.

Freshman and sophomore year were filled with new faces and new experiences. But now, like Ishmael in the story of Moby Dick, I am a wanderer longing for the sweet scent and soft spray of the ocean.

The way I lived before and the life I have adapted to reflect that of a normal college student, and that is not something I could fully express through writing. But I know that no matter how much I feel like or look like I “fit in,” in the deep parts of my heart, there is a longing pulling me away to something more.

The core of my spirit is restless and itching for the unfamiliar. As a Christ-follower, I am not of this earth. “But we are citizens of Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly awaiting for his return as our Savior.” (Philippians 3:20) This eagerness and impatience is not only a characteristic of believers, but it is indeed our calling.

“Our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day… while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”(2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

H. Rider Haggard writes about his trek through the desert saying, “Our future was so completely unknown, and I think the unknown and the awful always brings a man nearer to his Maker.”

Faith teaches us to dive into the unknown and surrender it completely to our Creator and Savior in a search for the “elsewhere” that is the Kingdom of God. The yearning I have inside, although kindled by my time spent abroad, is natural for those who have a heart after God’s own heart.

I do pray that God grant me fulfillment in Christ and Christ alone. But as I say this, I also exclaim that I am not home. I am not comfortable in my skin, and my spirit is forever longing to burst forth from the prison-like cell of my ribs. This earth is temporal, and Mississippi College even more so considering it occupies only four years of my fading life here.

So is discontentment wrong? No. I am separated from my God, the bosom of my Father who calls me His child.  Am I fulfilled and overflowing because of His presence inside of me? Most assuredly. But until I die or He calls me home, I am forever aching to be elsewhere, the place by His side.

“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

– Bethani Thomas, Contributing Writer

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