What could you possibly learn when you’re so far apart from someone you love?
No one ever said this would be easy. A year and a half in, I’m completely convinced that it isn’t. With approximately two years (maybe even three or more) to go, this is our story.
I’ve known you since we were 14. You were the tall, lengthy boy who had astonishingly spiky hair and silver-framed glasses when I started serving in church ministry. We did not speak to each other much until March 2010, where an unlikely friendship was kindled through conversations over church administrative matters and… Spongebob Squarepants.
Fast-forward to July 2011 and you were Melbourne bound to pursue higher education and I recall trying to figure out what I felt exactly and what I wanted, right up to the point you handed your passport over to the officer at the departure hall. A year later, after praying and consulting our parents amongst many others, with your hand clasped in mine, we journeyed into a new phase also famously (or infamously) known as a Long-Distance Relationship (LDR).
Ever since, I have entertained a barrage of well-intentioned questions: “Is it tough?”, “Do you miss him?”, “Is he coming home soon?”, “Are you going to visit him?”. The answers to these questions were easy. However, I wondered, so what if all the answers to these questions was a resounding yes?
LDRs are often discouraged than encouraged — for good and valid reasons of course. Yet, by going against stereotypes and taking this step of faith, I have learned so much and wouldn’t trade this relationship with you for anything else. These are some reasons:
For one, without good communication, we wouldn’t be where we are. Emails, Skype, Viber, FaceTime and Whatsapp have become indispensable to us and I must say, as an introvert and someone who avoids and retreats from conflict, I’ve been challenged and stretched to tackle conflicts and clarify miscommunications as soon as they occur. My usual routines and inner walls of avoidance and escapism collapsed and pushed me into being brave and straightforward. I am far from being an expert, but with each baby step, I might get there some day.
Trust: I had to learn how to trust you. More importantly, I had to learn what it meant to trust God in this relationship. Whenever it got tough, unpleasant, or when we erupted into fights, I remember going straight to God in prayer. I would ask of Him to intervene and for His grace and mercy to fill me anew, so that my words and actions would not be impulsive and thereby reactions I would later live to regret. It is recognising that He is our Rock, from which every good and perfect thing flows (James 1:17).
And lastly, honesty — Honesty with you, and honesty with myself too. Although being apart from you gives me room, time and freedom to grow as an individual, I don’t want to paint a perfect picture of what being apart from you really looks like, because it isn’t all that pretty. What do I do in the moments that I miss you so bad the tears just begin to huddle and squeeze so hard that I find myself helplessly bawling, wishing and wanting to be where you are? And what do I do when I go through physically trying times where all I can do is throw up, endure through excruciating cramps and cause you worry?
Through it all, I have learned the significant lesson of facing my every raw, vulnerable emotion and speaking my mind more often than not. This has indubitably counted to my personal growth (and yours) and cannot be compromised.
For the first 10 months, I didn’t allow myself the freedom to celebrate our relationship. I didn’t think I deserved to. But I forgot that every relationship deserves to be celebrated, simply because something precious came into being. I have to remember that you are a good gift that God has given me, and that changes everything — Perspective, appreciation and everything in between. You are worth celebrating. In fact, WE are worth celebrating!
With a couple more years to go, I acknowledge that the fears of being in a LDR are real, but so is the amazing God we worship. The Bible tells me that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), and I am choosing to stand firm upon that truth.
My prayer over us for this year (and the many more ahead) is for unwavering faith in believing that He shall bring this journey to a completion, unbridled strength to last the distance and utmost commitment in knowing that God is moulding us as we walk with Him in separate countries.
And if there were just one thing I’d hold on to, it would be this: God’s love is enough. His love is enough for both you and I. Even in the event that we fail, we will never fall too far from where His cushion of love and grace resides.
This is our story for now, but this is the story I will continue to tell, “6,057km apart, and this is how we do it.”
If you are in a long-distance relationship and fighting doubt, you are not alone. Don’t ever be too afraid to write your own stories and tell them! Never discount the good and the strife; embrace them and you’ll see that they were the crucibles of your relationship. And lastly, never forget that God’s got you. Both of you.