Note: I wrote this letter to a friend just before her relationship became long-distance. I’m sharing it here with her permission.
In less than a week, your boyfriend will be moving across the world. You won’t be able to visit him for at least a year, and you have no idea what the future holds.
My heart aches for you, my friend. I have been where you are going, and it is a heart-wrenching experience. This letter is meant to encourage you, but I also want to be real with you about the struggles ahead. More likely than not, you will cry yourself to sleep. You will be surrounded by good friends and suddenly feel alone. You will see another couple holding hands and be overwhelmed by a flood of old memories.
In those painful moments, you’ll ask, “Why?” Why must the two of you suffer the agony of separation for so long?
You can comfort yourself by thinking about everything good that will come as a result of a good long-distance relationship. You will learn to listen and cherish precious time together. You will acquire the rare virtue of patience in an era of instant gratification.
You will discover that love is a choice, not a feeling, and you will learn that persevering in that choice is a priceless character trait.
All of these are very good reasons that dating at a distance is worth it. But eventually, there will come a time when it becomes clear that these reasons are not enough to sustain you. For me, that time came one February night when my boyfriend started weeping during our Skype call. He was so burdened by the pain of missing me, and all I could do was watch and cry along.
I hope that moment doesn’t come for you, but if it does, I want to share the hope that will carry you through.
It’s the hope that the apostle Paul writes about in the book of Philippians during a time of intense physical and emotional suffering. He writes, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
Paul’s contentment does not come from the hope of an easy, comfortable life (or, in our situation, an easy, comfortable long-distance relationship). He knows that even if he got the relief he “wants,” his happiness would only last a little while before something else would hurt him.
Instead, Paul is able to endure the pain of the present with joy because he knows that the God who saved Him for eternity is the God who is with him now.
Psalm 34:18 promises that “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” When sadness overcomes you, remember that God is weeping with you. He loves you infinitely, and He does not desire relationships to be long-distance forever.
If you love each other, it’s right for you to long to be together. But even more than that, I pray you can find your greatest hope in the security of your future with Jesus Christ. This hope is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).
As someone who has “survived” long-distance, I can tell you that you have the potential to grow closer to God and each other during this separation. But I also want you to know that it is okay to let go of the relationship. Sometimes, that’s what you need to do, and God can guide you through that pain, too. But if that happens, make sure you break up because it’s right, not because it’s easy.
Please know that you are not alone.
Your friend, Aurora
P.S. I am comforted by this glimpse of what a relationship with Jesus will look like in Heaven, when everything is finally made right: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)