When faith, hope, love rings true
Regardless of distance, our relationships will have its fair share of woes and hardship. More than two years ago, I shared about surviving the challenge of a long-distance relationship. Two years later, I tell the same story, but of a different struggle.
In April 2015, I took a leap of faith and gave God six months of my life when I left Singapore for the One Thing Internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. From July to December 2015, we were 14,915 km apart; our usual modes of communication were cut off due to strict internship rules (that were put in place to minimise distractions and give God the sole focus).
While I did not resent these rules, it was undoubtedly difficult writing to you once a week via snail mail or email, without any other form of communication. This meant not getting to see you on FaceTime nor hearing your voice for the entire duration of the internship, which brought about bouts of anxiety, worry, and doubt.
While we were further apart than we had ever been, my heart entered a season of settling into God’s heart — allowing Him to lead me as I wholly surrendered this relationship to Him again. In those few months, I came to my knees in broken consecration and acknowledged that you are not mine to hold.
You are God’s son and disciple — just as I am His daughter and disciple — and He loves us with a fierce passion. As that truth sunk deeper into my spirit, the more peace I got, knowing that God was taking care of you and me in different parts of the world.
On 11 December 2015, I arrived home in Singapore and you arrived 11 days later. For me, your intermittent airport arrivals and departures still activates the coping mechanism that deals with the butterflies in my tummy during the hello and the depressive thoughts of absence during the goodbye.
That said, on 3 January 2016, you got on yet another Melbourne-bound flight. By this time, I had stopped counting the number of times you had walked through the departure gates of Changi Airport and the number of flights you had taken. On a brighter note, this would be your last flight out because you will finally graduate and move home for good this October.
With so much to look forward to, I was left to wonder why I was battling strong negative emotions — frustration, anger, irritation, and a weepy heart. Why was my heart failing to be strong despite having already gone through years of being in a long-distance relationship? For the first time, my coping mechanism kicked into overdrive.
There was an ache within me that I could not understand or explain. It ached till I tangibly felt physical pain in my stomach. As I spent the next two days waiting on God to reveal the condition of my heart, I realised I wasn’t angry at you, but that my heart had grown weary in this long-drawn journey of nurturing a long-distance relationship.
Having you in Melbourne for five years was finally enough. I wanted you home permanently; I was done with saying another goodbye.
As I ploughed through the flummox of joy, anticipation, anxiety, and even questioning if our long-distance relationship was worth it, God reminded me of some fundamental lessons from 1 Corinthians 13:
FAITH meant trusting that we don’t have to agree on every thing.
I had always thought that couple life meant coming into agreement on e-v-e-r-y thing. Every decision had to be made together; if either party disagrees, we would keep the discussions (or arguments) going until we found common ground. However, through the process of surrendering, I learned that it takes faith to trust God with our differences, and while we may agree on some things, we don’t have to agree on every thing because we were created different!
Sometimes it is easy to forget that we were not called into relationship to fight or negotiate ourselves into agreement. It was only when I aligned myself to God and His desires for us that I could look at our differences and view them as potential successes instead.
Love “does not seek its own, is not provoked and thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV), and when two sin-stained people come before a pure and holy God who is the embodiment of Love, we can find assurance and stability in any relationship.
HOPE is embracing the joy and privilege in still choosing each other daily, despite the distance.
While my heart is filled with hope for the second coming of Christ, it is also filled with great hope knowing that our long-distance relationship didn’t just make it through the years by our own means or strength. During my time in Kansas City, I woke up one morning realising that although I missed you intensely, I consciously made a daily decision to choose you as my other half again.
Now that I’ve seen the importance of voluntary love and desire, I am grateful for the free will to love God and love you. Since that morning, I have challenged myself to keep hope alive in my heart because love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV), with anticipation that this tough journey will come to finality in due time.
LOVE is keeping God in full view and deciding that this journey of long-distance with your other half was worth it.
1 Corinthians 13:8 (NKJV) says, “Love never fails,” and 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) follows up with “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love is eternal, because God is eternal, and love only makes sense with Him in view!
I fully submitted to His love because Jesus Christ went to the Cross and died for me. Apart from Him, I cannot love well — we cannot love well. He has given us the privilege of loving one another in our relationship and I refuse to take that for granted. I am making this love count because I have decided that because God is in this with us, this long-distance is well worth it.
Even though you’re still 6,057 km away, thank you for spending almost six years (five of which have been spent in long-distance) befriending and courting me. Thank you for having the faith to choose me above our differences, for holding on to hope with me and making this long-distance relationship worth it. It is my privilege to love you.
To fellow friends who are currently in long-distance relationships, it might be a tough marathon, but you are not alone. Your long-distance relationship will count when you hold eternal Love in mind. You’ve got to believe that there is a God who yearns and desires to reveal faith, hope, and love to both of you. He is beckoning you to fellowship with Him today.