“If I feel like God is far away—He’s not the one who moved.”
I have, and I cannot say I “rock” at maintaining them, nor do I enjoy the distance.
Here’s a quick glance at how many long-distance relationships (romantic and otherwise) I have had in the past or am currently maintaining:
- My best friend has been in Indiana for several years completing her Master’s degree.
- I was in a rather serious relationship with a gentleman caller for about two years (on again, off again, courtesy of our long distance situation).
- I have just one family member who lives within a healthy proximity to me. Otherwise, my brother, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins span from Kelowna to California to Ohio.
- Finally, as much as I enjoy the cultural diversity of my social group, I have dear friends scattered like dandelion seeds across countries and continents.
Needless to say, phone calls, text messages, e-mails, Skype dates, Facebook and Facetime have all become rather dear to me. But I find even with all of these modes of communication, I am still left with a devastating amount of space between us that, despite my best efforts, words cannot fill.
Six Degrees of (Long-Distance) Separation
I have noticed that whether it’s a boyfriend, a friend or a family member, the emotions that accompany a long-distance relationship are often similar. The following is a list of emotions I have experienced whilst engaged in a Long-Distance Relationship or “LDR”:
- Anticipation/ Excitement: This emotion is typical when the times I have seen or heard from the person supersede the time we have been apart.
- Frustration: Frustration rears its ugly head after enough time has passed so I know the other person surely has a new story or anecdote to share, but I have yet to hear about it.
- Denial: Possibly spurred on by things like Destiny’s Child songs about women and their independence, at this stage in the LDR a reassurance falls over me that I need no one!
- Hopelessness: When the times we have been apart supersedes the time in which we have been together, I begin doubting the validity of my relationship.
- Anger: Perhaps my LDR updated her Facebook status and didn’t as much as poke me. Or maybe he had a whole day off and did not make any effort to call. Whether my reasoning is justified or completely unwarranted, feelings of anger in a long-distance relationship are undeniable.
- Joy: The very sound of his voice brings a tidal wave of relief and all the emotions you once felt, are swept away with pure joy.
[ Lather, rinse, and repeat.]
Regardless of the different kinds of long distance relationships we may experience, I’m sure this truth remains: Being devoted to someone we cannot see, is hard.
Degrees of separation with God
“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” ~Kahlil Gibran
As I looked at this list of LDR-related emotions, I began to draw some parallels between my human long-distance relationships and my relationship with God. I realized that just as I have felt all of the six (long distance) degrees of separation with my friends, family and romances; I have also felt these emotions towards God. The anticipation and excitement as I wait on His call, the denial in thinking I don’t need Him, the hopelessness I feel when I don’t hear His voice, the anger when everyone else gets a “poke” but me, and the sheer joy of finally hearing His voice.
But in all of the parallels I have drawn, I discovered one major contrast: With God, absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder; it makes my heart grow further.
“Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you.” James 4:8 (NIV)
God isn’t awkwardly fumbling around trying to maintain seven billion long-distance relationships—on the contrary, we are the ones who choose how close our relationship with God will be. Which reminds me that if I feel like God is far away—He’s not the one who moved.
“I will never leave you; I will never forget you.” Hebrews 13:5 (International Children’s Version)
How about you:
- How many long-distance relationships are you maintaining?
- What feelings do you struggle with in LDRs with people?
- Have you ever felt distanced from God and why?
- Do you believe that closeness in our relationship with God can be influenced by our own initiative?
My name is Ashley and I am the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Relate Church in Surrey, B.C. My mission is to develop the God-given potential in every child who crosses my path *Insert Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” here*. I love all things jazzy, particularly music, and I tend to break into song throughout the day for no apparent reason. I blog here and tweet @AshleyMandanici