The lyrics from Grease kept running through my mind as I thought about the series we are beginning, “Advice on Having Successful Long Distance Relationships”
It turned colder, that’s where it ends
So I told her we’d still be friends
Then we made our true love vow
Wonder what she’s doing now
Summer dreams ripped at the seams”
Did you find a love this summer? Are you worried your summertime love will be “ripped at the seams” because of attending separate universities, an impending job transfer, or a military deployment? Are you are facing the entrance of a long distance relationship?
Today, I am thrilled to welcome to our blog for the first time, Heather. Heather is a writer, newlywed and the wife of a Navy pilot. She understands acutely the challenges facing engaged and married couples who are separated. She will be sharing her insights today about how to thrive in a season of separation.
Tomorrow, I will be sharing how to be successful in a long distance dating relationship, reflecting upon the almost 2 years my husband and I spent, building our relationship, dating and spending our engagement long distance.
Blessings through the Distance – By Heather
For most people a “long distance” relationship is not their first choice. Why would it be? Being away from a loved one or meeting someone and starting a long distance relationship is a hard commitment and definitely has its challenges, but it also has its rewards. Most people don’t hear about the blessings and the growth that can come through a long distance relationship, but believe me, as a military wife, there is great reward when Jesus is the author of the distance.
My husband and I have been married just over a year. We met through our church right before he left for a deployment overseas. Honestly, I was grateful for the distance between us because it gave me the opportunity to have wisdom and discernment to know if this relationship was of God or myself.
Sometimes relationships can be based on emotions or the incredible “high” we get when we’re with that person. I think it’s safe to say that those are natural feelings that come with any new relationship and are truly a beautiful thing, but it can also cloud your mind and prevent you from knowing deep in your spirit what God is saying about your relationship. Distance, for me, was a powerful tool to help me think and see clearly that God was the author of this relationship. I had all the same giddy emotions and butterflies that come with the excitement of a relationship, but the distance allowed me to relax, pray, and hear the voice of God.
Distance was also a huge part of my growth. A week after my husband proposed he was sent out on a six month deployment overseas, and once again I was forced to be parted from him. This time was much harder. We only had four months together before he had to leave again and I felt cheated. “I just got him back, Lord. Please don’t take him from me now.” I cried and begged God to allow him to stay. I knew this was what I signed up for when I said “yes” to marrying him. He was worth it in every way but that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be pain or hardship.
I realized very quickly after he left that God had so much He wanted to teach us and have us walk through before we entered into our next stage of marriage. I cannot thank God enough for that precious time my husband and I had with the Lord in our time apart.
God wanted to meet with us and show us where we needed growth and ways we needed to learn from each other, and Him. There was a great deal of dying to self and stripping away layers of insecurities, allowing Jesus to be the center of our relationship. He showed me how to be patient and how to rely on Him through the distance, teaching me that He was carrying us both through this season of our life. It wasn’t easy but when my husband returned home we were stronger and more committed than ever before.
If two wasn’t enough, three would definitely do it. About five months after we were married, my husband once again was called out for another deployment. We knew ahead of time that another was coming but getting the official orders was much harder than I had anticipated. I had just adapted to a whole new life. I was used to having him in our new home, holding me through the day and protecting me through the night. I didn’t know how to do this new season of life without him, and one of my biggest concerns was not having him close.
“Touch” is one of my primary love languages and I knew not having his physical touch would be one of my greatest struggles while he was away. God began to speak and reveal to me that there were more ways to love than what I was used to and communication was one of the gifts God strengthened us in. We found that developing good communication patterns was our strongest asset, and through it we were able to grow stronger and deeper together.
We talked about so many different things that helped our marriage grow leaps and bounds; things that had hurt us, things that we needed, things that made us feel special and loved. Having distance between us caused us to work through the hard things and fight for each other’s heart and happiness.
It has been a long, hard experience walking through a long distance relationship but I wouldn’t trade what God has given us through each time apart, for the world. Something I have come to understand is that if God authors it, God blesses it. It wasn’t the military bringing my husband overseas. It wasn’t orders on paper forcing us to be apart. It was God. It was always God and it will always be God. It’s not to punish or hurt us but to bless us and help us grow. I had plenty of opportunity to whine and complain and to feel sorry for myself while my husband was away, (believe me, there were endless nights where I did). However, something shifted within my spirit and I realized that if God was the one orchestrating the separation then this was a plan for His purpose and we would receive great and abundant blessings from it.
I am not sure if you are in a relationship now or currently debating whether it’s worth it or not. One thing I want to tell you is: if God brings you to it, He will see you through it. God WILL equip you for the journey and through each season of your relationship. Don’t fear the unknown or the fret the distance.
There is great reward for those who wait. Isaiah 40:31 says, “Yet those who wait upon the LORD Will gain new strength.” God has a powerful plan and purpose for all things and if you commit to Him your cares and worries of the season you’re in, approaching, or even one you’re considering, He WILL give you the strength to carry it out and the joy to dance in His blessings.