Reminding yourself of the benefits of a long-distance relationship is a double-edged sword.
Grasped humbly, this sword defends against despair. Whenever I felt discouraged about the distance between us, it was helpful to remember that our suffering was bearing fruit. By communicating deeply, practicing perseverance, and making sacrifices, we were growing closer to Christ and each other.
But more often than not, I wielded these benefits as an attack. In the battlefield of my mind, I turned truths like, “distance makes us more intentional,” into prideful comparisons: “distance makes us more intentional than other couples.”
A Vault of Pride
If we think long-distance relationships are fundamentally more mature than “normal” relationships, we’re fooling ourselves. Plenty of couples who live near each other have godly, intentional dating relationships, and plenty of long-distance couples don’t.
More importantly, though, 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
In reality, my need to compare my long-distance relationship was evidence of several sins in my life:
- Fear. I was afraid our relationship wasn’t very mature, and I sought proof of its strength by measuring it against the relationships of others.
- Envy. Truly, I wished I lived near my boyfriend like the girls I compared myself to. We compare ourselves to those we envy.
- Self-righteousness. I saw relational maturity as evidence of spiritual maturity, and I concluded I could pat myself on the back for my abundance of innate goodness.
As I reflect on our time as a long-distance couple, I’m convicted that I need to confess my misplaced pride in the maturity of our relationship.
I thought I could measure its value and test its strength by tearing down others. Worst of all, I thought this measure mattered — affording me an honor I thought I’d earned.
But if our relationship was mature, it wasn’t because of my righteousness or my boyfriend’s. It was because of God’s grace.
And His grace is a much better way to understand my worth. Praise God that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) — including self-righteousness!
A Sharper Sword
Beyond my sin, why weren’t the benefits of a long-distance relationship enough to satisfy me? Why did I feel the need to compare?
Ultimately, I think it’s because benefits are a weak defense against misery and doubt. We need a sharper sword.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Our best protection against despair isn’t confidence in our relationship but in the word of God. Unlike the blunt blade of comparison, the source of this sword’s strength is not in its wielder but its Maker.
The Bible is a double-edged sword, but sharper. It safeguards our hope, and it also cuts deep into our prideful hearts. Whatever the situation, God’s Word is our greatest defense.