Most of my relationships with my best friends have been long distance at some point. Going into my freshman year of college my high school bestie served with NET Ministries and we kept in touch through letter writing and a phone call or two. One of my best friends from college served for 9 months in Texas as a volunteer RN. Another close college friend moved to Illinois for work and is still there in grad school. And the last friend, she was one of the last people I ever thought I would be friends with, but her senior year of college we were in a small group together and met every other week and our small group hung out outside of that as well. After she graduated she also served with NET (gosh, NET just take all my friends from me…). And so I wrote her letters. I always get excited for my friends who do NET because it gives me people to write letters to.
But writing this last friend letters brought us closer and closer over the years. She served a second year with NET as a mission staff member. And now she lives in Minnesota and goes to grad school there. The majority of my friendship with her has been long distance, and a lot of it has been letter writing. Yet she is one of the first people I text when I need support or advice in anything. The Lord always uses her to speak truth into my life and vice versa and this relationship is one of the biggest blessings in my life.
The two other college friends I mentioned, well I lived with them for two years and it wasn’t until after we were no longer roommates that I realized how much I loved them. It was only once these women left my area and were no longer a walk down the hall that I grew closer with them. We’ve had a group text between the 3 of us since we moved out.
What I’ve realized is there is actually so much fruit to not being in the same city as people important to you. Mind you, it is important to have friends here (where you live that is), but distance is also a good thing too. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right?
As I’ve watched my friends date, get engaged and get married most of them have had long distance in their relationship at some point, and they saw a lot of fruit in their relationship. Long distance teaches you to communicate. The only way you can spend time together from a distance is skype/phone calls, so all you can do is talk. It teaches you other ways to love the person.
I was talking with my friend yesterday and she was saying that she doesn’t get to see her boyfriend as much as she wants (they both live in the same city), but it’s good because it’s teaching her other ways to love him.
My dad has travelled for work for what feels like most of my life. Probably half of my life anyway. But I’m convinced it’s a large part of the reason I am so close with my dad. Through middle and high school we did nightly phone calls because we didn’t see each other. Then in college is switched to a couple times a week, and now I talk to him at least once a week usually. But I’ve rarely fought with my dad and I usually feel understood by him when I talk to him. I feel like I can tell him anything and everything. He’s the first one I call when I am in trouble or a sticky situation. But I don’t know if my relationship would be as good as it is with him if we weren’t forced to communicate via nightly phone calls during my crucial developmental periods.
I guess the other thing to note here is that long distance is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are countless days that I wish I could run over to Steph’s house or Sarah’s and drink wine and snuggle, but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world because it has drawn us closer together as sisters for them to be apart.
The last thing I want to talk about is the reality that we are united in the Eucharist. When these different women each left I remember it being so hard, and missing them and their hugs a lot. I missed being with these women who knew from my body language when I walked in the door that something was up. Them being gone left me feeling lonely. And I was telling one of them how much I missed them. And she reminded me how we are united in the Eucharist. No matter how far apart we were, we would always be united in the Eucharist. We are all parts of one body and we come together in communion through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Each time we receive communion we are united with the entire body.
So distance in relationships may suck and feel really hard, and it’s hard to see the fruit of it while you’re in the midst of it, but know good can and will come of it. Maybe you’re in the midst of a long distance relationship, or about to transition to long distance or maybe you’ve never experienced it, I hope this offers you a little bit of hope and encouragement as you go through the trials of life.