Someone recently asked if I’d share the entire story of our long-distance relationship.
You’ll notice bits and pieces of it across Dating at a Distance, but this is the first time I’m sharing it all in one place.
I think the best way to explain our story is with the words I wrote in April 2018, right before I transferred universities to live closer to Reed.
A lot has changed since the long-distance part of our relationship ended. Reed proposed about six months after I moved, and we got married six months later.
If you’re looking for a “happily ever after,” we haven’t reached it yet. We never will on this side of heaven. But we are increasingly joyful on the journey there.
I hope that God uses our story to comfort you with the comfort only he can give.
“Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:7)
The Story of Our Long-Distance Relationship
I wrote the following post for my friends & family in 2018, right before I moved from Missouri to North Dakota. Since then, Reed proposed and we got married in May 2019.
Three years ago, I met my best friend in an airport luggage line. Back then, we were just two Minnesota teens headed to Washington, D.C., on a trip sponsored by our local electric cooperatives. A lot has happened since I met that tall boy with the tiny suitcase: becoming friends, moving 12 hours apart, and dating (in that order).
Now, at the end of the semester, I’ll be moving to North Dakota.
Long-distance dating is both growing and grueling. At first, you’re filled with delight at the thought of writing love letters, dressing up for Skype dates, and leaping into one another’s arms at homecomings. You talk about patience and perseverance, but you don’t really know what those words mean.
But then comes the “defining moment.” For us, the defining moment was actually a month. It was when everything seemed to come crashing down all at once. All of sudden, our relationship was in disaster recovery mode. It was the sobering moment when we realized the primary pain in our relationship was not actually the result of circumstances outside our control (“If only we lived in the same city, things would be better”) but actually from the pain we caused each other.
Why was that month a catalyst for our relationship and not a catastrophe? We reflected on that last week, and we honestly don’t know. All we can say that it was the mysterious grace of God that gave us strength to press forward.
What I do know is that this pain does not define the story of our relationship because our lives and our relationship are defined by one person, Jesus Christ. Reed and I don’t have to carry the stinging weight of our sin because it was laid upon the raw flesh of our Savior’s shoulders and obliterated beneath His rumbling tombstone. Accepting the full truth of God’s forgiveness and committing to follow Him breathes life not only into our relationship with God, but also into all our relationships with others.
Last June was a defining moment for Reed and me, I think, because we began to seek God’s definition of love. The more we saw dating as a stepping stone to marriage, and marriage as a symbol of Christ’s love for His people, the more we realized that living 12 hours apart for the next three years didn’t make much sense.
So, we began a process of prayer, asking others for wisdom, and gradually taking steps forward in faith. This past year has been emotionally exhausting, but it’s also been puzzlingly beautiful.
And it’s a year that’s almost over. In two weeks, I will be moving to Fargo, North Dakota. When school starts in the fall, I will be continuing my Strategic Communication studies as a junior at North Dakota State University.
Is the future a little scary, a little uncertain? Most definitely. But I’m learning more and more that true peace is found only when I stop trying to think my way out of everything and simply hand over my fears to God. He’s showed me that the things I used to find security in — foolproof four-year plans, comfortable community, and risk-free relationships — don’t exist in pure form, after all…
…I’ve wrestled a lot this year with worrying about how people react to the news that I’m transferring. But I am not ashamed to tell the story of our relationship because it’s not really our story, but God’s story made known through us.
I see and experience Christ’s redeeming love more and more through my relationship with Reed, and I pray others see the same. The gospel, which is the heart of the story of God, is first and foremost the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. But it is also the power of God for sustaining everyone who loves — and that, I believe, is beautiful.