The Mantra of Traveling: Restlessness

By: Haley Littleton

I have officially been in Amsterdam for one week (altogether it will be 4 weeks) volunteering and serving at the Shelter City Hostel right on the edge of the Red Light District. While the topic of the concept of freedom in Amsterdam will have to reserved for another lengthy post, I have learned a lot from the travelers that filter through the cafe as I cook and serve food and hang out with the guests.

There is a definite traveling bug in our world today, and the backpacking or traveling community, specifically in Europe, is a complete culture of its own. For the most part, it is a culture of traveling light, partying hard, and never staying in one place for too long. It is a life of constant shifting, little money, and overall uncertainty. Thrilling and adventurous eh?

But underneath the facade of culture experience, enrichment, freedom and adventure, restlessness grips most travelers’ basic motivations. Because when the thrill of being in a “new” place wears off, they move on with ease and little direction.

I’m a fan of traveling (hello, I’m in Amsterdam for 4 weeks!) but not to cover up a fear of settling down. Traveling is beneficial to our understanding and appreciation of the world but not when it is fueled by our fears of being rooted in a long term community. We may travel away from home but, for the sake of our spiritual souls,  we must not travel without a home.

The restlessness evidenced in the travelers I’ve come in contact with renders isolation and in many cases fruitlessness.

Restlessness is the complete antithesis to Sabbath. In restlessness, when the “newness” and thrill of a place wears off, we desire to move on to different people and different sights. But in this, we never plant our roots by a stream from which we can drink from for growth (Psalm 1). Through the onset of international traveling and globalization, it is much simpler to “go” and never “be.” It is much easier to “roam” than it is to “rest.”

Sabbath involves settling into a place and being a part of the community. It involves creating a home to grow, multiply, and interact. Sabbath means to rest in the place we are at and the people around us, even when it becomes messy. Sabbath, or resting in one place, requires vulnerability and selflessness to take an interest in the things around us. Restlessness, on the other hand, creates an alone mentality that simply takes us wherever the wind blows.

And with this restlessness, we are never quite satisfied with where we are or even where we’re going. We always need more to stimulate us. Even, God, in our minds, becomes not enough when perhaps we asks us to live “boring” lives rooted in one place.

So I urge you to travel. See the world! It’s a very interesting place. But I caution you against the traveler mentality of restlessness. Go where you’ve always wanted to go but do not forget about making a home.

Because God-focused homes bring Sabbath for our weary restless souls that have roamed for satisfaction for far too long.

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