The Real Reason For Our Restlessness

Saint Augustine by Antonio RodríguezI come from a restless family. My second brother is just returning from a walk. A long walk. From Oregon to Patagonia. My father took his family on three, year-long sabbatical trips around the world. When he retired from teaching he drove to and visited well over a thousand colleges and universities across the country. I think there may be less than a dozen that he doesn’t have his picture standing in front of the entrance. My mother has knit close to eight hundred thousand booties, more or less. The kind that babies wear before they get shoes. She knits everywhere. I can remember playing baseball in junior high and looking up to see her in the stands, click-clacking away.

I feel restless, too. My friend Lauren tells me from time to time that I should leave town for a while. She says I get cranky when I sit still for too long.

I am  sure there are some deep psychological reasons that some could point to, to try to explain my inability to relax for very long. Maybe I have this deep seated fear I’ll miss out on something if I don’t get moving. I do know there was a very real fear you’d miss out on dinner if you didn’t hustle at my house growing up: three brothers will do that to you.

But I think there is a more fundamental reason for my restlessness, for your restlessness. And I think that is because we don’t really belong here. We are in a place that is not our home.

I came across a quote from C.S. Lewis a few years ago that I think is spot on: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” We are unsatisfied, restless, because we are not at home here. We were made for another place.

Peter writes about this in his first epistle. He starts out “to God’s elect, strangers in the world….” Strangers in the world. I always thought that was an odd way to begin a letter, but then I realize he is reminding them that this world is not there home. He then spends a great deal of time explaining that a lot of the friction and trouble and restlessness they will face and are facing is due to this fact. You are a stranger in a strange land.

Maybe this begs the question then: If this is not out home, where is?

I think St. Augustine, in his Confessions, put it perfectly: “Our hearts are restless until the find their rest in You.” The “You” he was referring to, of course, is God. And until we are reunited with him, we will always experience some level of restlessness. I think, as Christians, we can be less restless the closer we walk with him, and we have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. But I think we will always be a little unsettled until we are finally and forever home with Him.

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