The Six Degrees of Long-Distance Relationships (LDRs) and other Separations

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“If I feel like God is far away—He’s not the one who moved.”

By Ashley Mandanici | Twitter: @ashleymandanici

Have you ever been in any kind of long-distance relationship? Not just the romantic kind.

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?

_____________________________

 About Ashley:

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

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Ashley Mandanici
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.
Ashley Mandanici

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Ashley Mandanici
  • Ann

    Hey my sweetie face, lovely, beautifuly filled with Gods wisdom, truth, & love, sister, daughter, friend ! You just ROCKED my world! and oh how I miss you so terribly, and oh so sorry that i didn’t get to speak with you the other evening when you called ! They should have awakened me ! sometimes I am in a hibernation mode, which I guess is that denial state ? I often feel like that these days :/ But then the morning comes again and I call someone far away and feel all better again. ( yes..wash, rinse and repeat ) great article sister ! Thank you for opening my eyes again to God and His neverfailing love for me ! I love you so much forever and ever ! And don’t you ever forget that ! kiss & hugs to you !

    • Ashley Mandanici

      Awww- how i miss you! You are truly the sunshine of my life!

      Thank you so much for reading my article–and liking it :) You are surely one of the hardest people to be apart from–hands down! love you!

  • http://jcloveslynie.wordpress.com evelyn

    Hey Ashley this is a nice one. Well i do have LDRS and i have felt all these emotions…at this point i have even told myself that well if they cant take time to even write or say hello,they actually dont need me and well our relationship counts any more. i have convinced myself that they are too busy so i will let them be busy…i am probably kind of an interruption…when they communicate…i appreciate the thoughtfulness but nowadays i dont hunger and thirst after them any more coz i end up being a nuisance to them,demanding and people dont love that. they have other issues to take care of…

    as for the long distance romances..they are just a sham.so i shouldnt even get involved in any of them anymore.
    When it comes to God…its up to me to determine how close i will be with HIM.like you said it, he wil never leave me nor forsake me and HE’S RIGHT THERE..always willing to receive me, listen to me, he’s not so busy and most of all He’s God..so he stands out and i cant compare Him to anyone…so man doesnt measure up.and its now the other way round with LDRS..absence draws my heart further away, For God…feelings of absence mean its time to play hide and seek.when i seek him i am confident i will find him and He will give Himself to him coz my heart is hungry and thirsty for Him and He satifies me, the longings of my heart, he fulfils me and its not in vain that i call, that i seek, He becomes my great exceeding reward and nothing compares to that….i now hate being needy and vulnerable to human beings……i am safe with God,..he can bear with my vulnerability, my neediness, human beings are just human beings…it’s alot of work..staying in a LDR..and if the both of u arent committed to the relationship..it will never work…God is committed to me and He loves me dearly and loves me to love Him and to long for Him…:-)

    • Ashley Mandanici

      So true Evelyn, all the emotions and behaviours that make us feel like basket cases with humans are actually expressions of vulnerability God wants from us. He’s never going to become overwhelmed with us wanting time with Him, there is never a “bad time to call” on Him, and we’re never going to want Him too much.

      I’m starting to slowly figure out LDR’s with friends, and often in those cases, absence does make the heart grow fonder… but i don’t want that with God… i desire that closeness, that constant contact with him.

      Thank you so much for reading Evelyn!

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  • http://www.ludigocreations.org Ludigo

    So true very insightful.

    • Ashley Mandanici

      thanks man :) holler to one of my awesome LDR’s! haha.

  • Drake

    hello ashley, i badly miss my girl in CA and im here in Asia. shes busy at work, we could only see each other online once or twice a week :( but i do really love her..

    #share :)

    ^_^ God Bless

    • Ashley Mandanici

      Awww– sorry Drake– i hope that you’re not apart for much longer!

  • Tracey

    My husband is living in NZ and I am in Bolivia – have had numerous immigration issues with our little girls so have not been able to go to be with him yet. We facebook chat every day if possible and skype with the girls once or twice a week. I miss him like crazy and hate being in this limbo land but I know we are good most of the time as long as we communicate clearly.

    My whole family is there except my four children. I miss my parents and brother and cousins and old friends but we have lost contact except by minimal internet mail. I need to bite my tongue alot with them as they don’t understand me or my life as I have been away for 8 years.

    I felt distanced from God and I struggle with why we have had this ‘forced’ time apart, I guess I don’t understand and felt let down but am now drawing closer to Him again. The closeness in my relationship with God is definitely influenced to a degree by my own initiative.

  • Harry

    I love this girl named Keira :) who lives in London and I’m from Philippines. Even though we are miles away I do love her with all my heart. :I I miss her a lot, but it’s time to let her go :’( even it hurts.

  • Glo

    Hello, interesting. My best friend has been studying abroad for close to 5 years now, I feel like we have grown up apart and in a sense haven’t had the chance to share the many things ordinary best friends do, I miss her alot but she’s coming home in October. On the other hand, my new found best friend of about 5 months is leaving in about 3 weeks to study abroad and I’ve been struggling with feelings of loss; wondering if we shall still be the same. I am learning to rest in God and just trust Him with my relationships

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