Uprooted (book review)

A guide for homesick Christians
By Rebecca VanDoodewaard
Christian Focus. 111 pages. £4.99
ISBN 978 1 845 509 644

Having recently moved to the south coast after more than 18 years at a church in the City of Cardiff, this book was both timely and helpful.

Rebecca VanDoodewaard offers sound, practical advice for those relocating, whether in this country or abroad. For me, one of the book’s biggest assets is that feelings of dislocation and disconnection are described as being the natural result of a massive, life-changing event. Thought patterns, inner battles and emotions are identified with a startling accuracy, resulting in the reader feeling understood and less isolated.

Absence of familiar people

The author initially recounts some of her personal experiences of homesickness and unpacks the complexities that can arise when we are away from our comfortable routines. This is obviously compounded by the absence of people we love who make us feel secure in their love and understanding. The unfamiliar, a change in customs, food, language and climate, can often result in a loss of perspective, producing an overly simplistic feeling of ‘loving’ where we have been and ‘hating’ where we are! We can forget the problems, battles and trials in our previous location and replace them with an idealistic picture, making us feel even more dislocated and hurt as we contemplate our new situation.

There are many good tips included on how to say ‘goodbye’, as well as suggestions of actions and attitudes that are not helpful when we arrive in a new home, church and community. There is an admission early on that homesickness does not always completely disappear, but we are always encouraged to deal with it biblically and bravely.

After outlining the temptations that can occur at a time when we may be vulnerable and irrational, Rebecca provides a list of helps, addressing some of the specific problems that can arise for those who are married, single, or working in a pastorate. Perhaps the advice borders on being slightly prescriptive, but a down-to-earth, common sense comes through clearly and helpfully.

The book ends by highlighting many of the benefits of homesickness, which include an opportunity to see God’s provision and encounter new adventures and amazing people. There is a sober reminder that earth is not our home and we need to prepare for saying our final goodbye before moving to our eternal destination.

Homesickness obviously has great relevance for those going through the early stages of a move, but could be a valuable tool for those engaged in pastoral ministry at any level, or who find themselves helping friends and family. It is refreshing to have a book on a topic rarely tackled in Christian circles, but one that affects many of us at some stage in our lives.

This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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