One never quite knows when you will show up. You catch me off-guard many times.
Eye contact and exchanged smiles with a student in a hallway of movement and commotion. Prayer over the math book with the discouraged one on a particularly hard day. Laughter- kind and free and content. Holding hands as we careen around the rink playing chain tag. The one who returns to thank me for helping them- that one who comes back with thankfulness really does speak love. Drawings subtly left on my desk.
These things make my heart swell until it feels like it is too big for me and like it is going to turn into a balloon and I am going to float away.
Love, you surprise me so often, but there are times when I have come to trust you to be there.
By my side doing dishes.
A shoulder for my tears and a heart for my heartaches and my delights.
Arms to hold me.
Laughter. Craziness. Silliness.
An imagination to dream and create with. Crazy, wild, creative dreams.
Pushing the cart as we collect groceries.
Taking my hand even when I am not being very nice or grown up or rational, if you know what I mean or ever have times like that.
Friendship deeper and deeper. Growing, burrowing, becoming more and more of me.
You are the one my soul loves. More and more.
Love, you surround me when I go home to family and we all talk at once.
Love, I find you are in the wisdom, encouragement, humor, earnestness, and creativity of my friends.
Love, I feel you in the sunshine and the cold air as I walk home. I feel you in the tired times, the bleak times, the aching times. You look like hope and you ripple like peace and you dance like freedom and autumn leaves and you smell like fresh flowers on my windowsill.
Love, you wrap around me and I feel that You are real. Even on the days when hardly anything is right in the world and I don’t feel like I want anyone to love me. Some days it seems as though it would be easier to not be loved. Sometimes I don’t want to be held to the standard that love holds me to. Sometimes I don’t want the accountability that it brings.
But Love, you are kind. In a constructive sort of way.
Love, you sent your only son so that we could become your children, and because of that, we will love as thoroughly as we possibly can.
Love, give us strength and energy to bear the fruit of love and to believe that nothing can separate us from you. Not life or death. Not things present or things to come. Not height or depth.
If I were queen of the world, I would want story-telling to be a regular thing. I would invite lots of people to my place for campfires. We would make many campfires and break into many groups and we would sit under the stars with blankets and s’mores with peanut butter on them and I would want people to tell their stories to each other. Can you imagine this? Circles of people who have no connection other than their humanity. There would be sad stories that made you cry. There would be stories that would make you laugh harder than ever before. There would be big stories and small stories. Beautiful and ugly stories. And if we truly listened to each other, a beautiful thing would happen. Our eyes and hearts would open. Our hearts would grow softer and less selfish. We would understand each other in new ways. We would love each other in new ways. We would experience deep community. Our willingness to share would heal us. Our willingness to listen, to ache, and to laugh would heal us.
There is so much tension in the world. So much heartbreak and loneliness. Please do your part to bring hope and love to the situation. You are needed.
We can love others right where we are. Right in the middle of ordinary life. When it comes to love, the small things matter. Initiating conversation, standing alongside, praying, listening, encouraging.
Jesus reached out to the lonely, the sick, the hopeless, the unlovely, the unclean, and he showed love to them.
Before I begin, I would like to say that I’m not doing this post to complain. I just wanted to talk about how a long distance relationship can feel, and the way that it is, because it is one of the biggest things in my life right now. There are pros and cons, that’s for sure. I find that it’s easy to allow the cons to guide my emotions (sometimes I don’t even realize that it’s happening, or perhaps more accurately- sometimes I don’t realize why I feel the way that I do, and it’s usually because my perspective is off), and it was good for me to write this and think about some of the pros as well.
Also… all the awesome drawings in this post? I have Ricky to thank for those. Thank you, Ricky. They’re just cool. He can do awesome things like that. It’s pretty amazing.
Remember that boy? The one that I reallyreally love? The one whose name is Ricky?
The one who lives in Guatemala right now?
We’re going to talk about that today.
Ricky and I started dating last December, just before Christmas, and there were three exceptionally pleasant (more pleasant than I ever could have dreamed possible!) weeks where we were together. We saw eachother for several weeks this past summer as well.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to develop a few thoughts on long distance relationships.
Sometimes, you just really want to be with the other person. But guess what? You can’t! Haha. And it’s like your present circumstances are mocking every positive trait and attitude that you have been trying to hold on to. Take that, Patience. Deal with this, Optimism. Contentment, I’d like to see how strong you really are. There may not be an ocean between you but there sure is a lot of land! Sometimes I would give anything to be with Ricky. Well, actually, a lot of the time I would give anything to be with Ricky. Sometimes I wonder if I am slowly going crazy.
I have found that the best thing to do when I feel as though I absolutely must be with Ricky or else I will shrivel up and die is to find something yummy to eat. Either that or just sit down and write about him. Or look through all my pictures of him/us.
It all comes down to this:
Being far apart from eachother- going months without seeing eachother- has a way of making you realize just how much that person means to you. And even though you feel that constant craving to be with them- it’s okay. I’m so glad that longing feeling is there, because it reminds me how much I love Ricky and how blessed I am to have him in my life. I wouldn’t want to be without that feeling, even if the aching feeling just starts to feel sad after awhile. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. There’s definitely something to that old saying.
Written words are so important. They are your way of spending time together. Your way of letting the other person know what is going on in your life. They are the way that you bring two very different lives together. Sometimes, written words are all you have to work with. I am so thankful that Ricky is so good at expressing himself through writing. I’m thankful that his messages sound like himself- like things that he would actually say.
A long distance relationship causes you to grasp at creative/different ways of feeling close to eachother. You aren’t going to necessarily share common experiences. You aren’t going to face the same kind of struggles. You aren’t going to go to the same church or hang out with the same people. So you find ways to make sure that you stay connected in the ways that matter. Ricky and I do this thing, where one morning, he sends me thoughts about what he read in his Bible that morning, and then the next day, I send him my thoughts about what I read. I love those emails. I love knowing what he is learning. I get to learn my own lessons, plus his. It’s just so efficient. Other things that help are sending lots of pictures and voice notes. Let’s say that I’m eating a really good piece of pizza. Send a picture to Ricky! I have a new pair of shoes. Send a picture to Ricky! I made soup. Send a picture to Ricky. (The way to a man’s stomach is through his heart? Or something like that. :D) I am drinking a green tea latte and marking tests at Williams? Send a picture to Ricky! Ricky says that he is thirsty? It officially becomes my job to email him pictures of tall glasses filled with water. Deodorant was on sale, and so I bought four of them? Naturally, I must send a picture to Ricky. I picked up a book that I had ordered from the library? Better let Ricky know that. Send a picture.
It’s kind of fun sometimes. 😀
But I’d still rather be with him.
You learn that it is technically possible to survive without that person. Not always pleasant, certainly not desirable- but it is possible. I have found that I feel a little bit lost. It seems silly that you can be used to functioning on your own (I have done that all my life!) and then BAM- you spend three weeks with a person at Christmas and all of a sudden you feel like a part of you is not there when they are gone.
All the time spent talking, but not actually spending time together leads to a rather strange phenomenon which I have begun to think of as “knowing this person very well but not knowing how to be with this person.” It occurs when you see each other for the first time after a long time apart. It is the strangest feeling. To see this person, and hug this person, and know lots of things about this person… but yet feel kind of like you don’t really know them. It just takes a little bit of time to settle back into being with each other. (Or it does for me, at least. I adjust to change very slowly and awkwardly. It’s very unfortunate.) It’s wonderful when that happens. When you make the connection between the “far away” person and the “right here” person and suddenly they become the same person and it is the person that you love so much that you can hardly stand it. You realize that this person is right here with you and you get to spend time with them and see their face and read your Bible with them and go places with them and it’s better than you could have ever imagined.
You realize that you love talking to this person. It’s just fun to talk to them. Whether you are talking about a big thing or about nothing. You notice lots of little things that you love about them. (Like their laugh, and their eyes, and- well, everything.)
One would think that it gets easier as the time for you to be together draws closer… but we are discovering that it somehow feels harder. The distance feels more and more frustrating. You hate the goodbyes more and more. The last goodbye… the one where I left Guatemala? That was hard. It’s awful to want nothing more than to be with a person but find yourself on a bus filled with Spanish-speaking Guatemalan ministers driving away from them. (Nothing about the ministers was awful. Just the circumstance seemed tragic.) It’s also awful to take them (the person that you love… not the ministers) to an airport in Las Vegas and say goodbye, and have to walk out of the airport into the stiflingly warm, dark morning and be without them. Instant loneliness. The good news is… ideally, there will be no more goodbyes where we don’t see each other for months for us. I mean, really, who knows what the future holds? But ideally, we have said the last long goodbye.
Sometimes it’s not easy to believe that this is the way that is best. Sometimes it seems plain old not fair. It brings up things like jealousy and loneliness and impatience. But those things can be conquered with just one truth from the Bible. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” It’s so easy to get stuck in my own understanding of a situation. To turn to myself and try to figure it all out from my perspective. But it’s comforting to realize that it’s okay if I don’t understand this. To know that it’s okay, even though sometimes I think that it can’t possibly be right for Ricky and I to be so far away from each other. To know that God has a plan much bigger than mine, and he has placed the two of us exactly where he wants us to be. Places where we are meant to serve him fully. This is our job right now. To see him and serve him where we are.