“You know what they say,” people would tell me. “‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’…”
I’d smile, for in fact, it was the way I often comforted myself in those years of being hundreds of miles apart from the man I wanted to marry.
“…Fonder for someone else!” They’d often add. Teasingly, of course. Yet it was a fear I remember facing.
Because sometimes, the doubts crept in. The distance crowding out the memories of the love in his smile. Time waning the emotional high of being near him. Waiting bringing to light the questions I still had.
And then I’d remember that he did chance to meet other girls once in a while in this life. And my heart would skip a few beats in fear that he might grow fonder for someone else.
But I’d always come back to the truth shared with a cousin by a family friend:
If he loves you today, he’ll love you tomorrow; if he loves you tomorrow, he’ll love you next week; if he loves you next week, he’ll love you next month; if he loves you next month, he’ll love you next year.
And I knew that if it was real love, it wouldn’t matter how much time we spent apart: he would still love me at the end of it.
The newness of being in love wears off when you are hundreds of miles apart for weeks and months on end. The doubts and fears come knocking when infatuation has nothing to feed on.
During our long-distance courtship, we were able to face head-on many of the concerns and misunderstandings that other couples don’t get to deal with until those first months of marriage. As a result, when we were finally married and together, it was much easier than it would have been without the foundation a long-distance courtship provided.
We found that absence really does make the heart grow. We found that in the absence of the other, we learned to trust—God and each other. The distance forced us to really communicate, to talk—to do more than just stare into each other’s eyes or listen to each other breathe. We hashed out our beliefs and ideals, we discussed our heart’s desires and our favorite books, we encouraged and sharpened each other—all at a distance, mostly on paper. (And those letters are a treasure and tradition we still keep today.)
And when I faced those doubts? I went to God first. I was able to hear the still small voice of my Lord. I wasn’t constantly distracted by the presence of the object of my desire. I learned what it meant to trust (both my Lord and my boyfriend!).
In the end, the time we spent apart only confirmed that we were to be together for the rest of our lives. Absence made our hearts grow together.
Absence is to love what wind is to fire;
it extinguishes the small,
it enkindles the great.
Our long-distance relationship gave our marriage a foundation of friendship and communication that could not be easily achieved any other way. The time and distance forced us to focus on talking instead of feeling. It matured our relationship in a way that being together in our immaturity could not have.
Whether you are fearing an upcoming separation, experiencing the absence of the one your heart loves right now, or praying about the wisdom of a separation to discern God’s will, be encouraged. Because the beauty of separation is in the growth of the hearts that are separated.