I don't know that I’m a master of long distance relationships, but the truth of it is, I’ve been in all sorts of them for years. I went to school abroad, which means my family was always a long distance away (not to mention my close friends) and I dated an Austrian long distance for 3 years (which ended, thankfully, in marriage! Bam! Didn’t see that one coming, did you?). After that, we moved to a place where none of our family or close childhood friends live. So, long distance relationships are kind of my life.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time (even before Maple Alps was born), and after several different requests, I’ve finally decided to sit down and write out a few thoughts. Later, I’ll post some practical ways to deal with long distance relationships, but today, I wanted to share the things Long Distance taught and solidified in me.
Note: In today’s post, when I address long distance, I will be talking about all sorts of relationships - not exclusively dating ones. But don’t worry, we’ll get to those ;-)
Communication is Much More than Words
You have probably heard that communication is only 7% verbal (a 'fact' being questioned), but the main point is, regardless of the numbers, communication is more nonverbal than verbal. I'm not dismissing a good letter or phone call (both important means of communicating long distance), but thankfully, we now have Skype and FaceTime.
Be Thankful for the Season You Are In
There were times when it was frustrating that I could not just drive a few minutes and be at the door of someone I knew well. But I learned to be thankful for the season I was in and embraced it! Taking time to meet new people, make new friends and explore my borders was worth it
Be Independent and Be You
It was kind of shocking to find myself in a place where none of my family history or current associations were known. I didn’t have anyone’s preconceived ideas of who or what I should be based on where I was from, and was able to really find who I was in the Lord. When you don’t have your friends, family or significant other around as a crutch, you have to just be...you (gasp!). I mean, who else will you be? Some lose their sense of identity, but instead of letting this happen, why not take advantage of it and find out who you are? I struggled with this for a short time, but I soon found a sense of freedom. Now that I've established myself as an individual, I have no problem just being me.
Things Change When You're Away
Things are never as you left them. Siblings grow taller and more mature, parents sprout a few more grey hairs, grandparents slow down, and friends make new friends. People move. People die. People give birth. When I realized that not all changes were pleasant, and hardly any of them were expected, it helped to remember that I had changed a lot too.
We Are All in a Long Distance Relationship
With the one who loves us the most. With our Creator, Redeemer and Best Friend. This was one of the things that hit me the hardest while going through this process. I always wondered how I could have such a close relationship with someone I never saw, and it wasn’t until I moved away from those I love that I understood. God loves us so much and wants a real relationship with us! The effort that goes into maintaining my other [long distance] relationships should be dim in comparison with the efforts with Him. The one thing that's different about this relationship, though, is that He never is actually far away.
So the truth about long distance relationships is basically that they're awful and awesome at the same time. Then again, everything is what you make it. That is to say: you get out what you put in!
What about you? Are you, or have you been, in a long distance relationship? What did you learn?