Thoughts on Distance and Relationships

This is my third year on leadership, and therefore my third newsletter “thoughts.”  Both my first and third year I was left with the last chosen topic. The second year (last year) I chose first and it didn’t get published due to COVID.  I find it amusing how God knows when we have something he wants us to share, whether we can see it at first or not.  Just further proof that God is good and knows best!  Anyway, this year being the third year, the open topic was on distance and relationships.  As we were looking to fill this spot, it dawned on me that every long-term relationship I have is a distanced relationship and maybe it’s not by chance that no one (after several attempts) has signed up to fill the spot.  All that to say, I hope my thoughts and experience based on long distance relationships can be an encouragement to you.

To give you a little background, I’m originally from the Chicago suburbs and also went to college out of state.  My family and friends are scattered all over the country, leaving me without any of my family, childhood, high school, or college friends within everyday living distance of me.  My husband, Jake, and I also dated long-distance before getting engaged and married.  Therefore, I’ve lived most of my adult life in long distance relationships.  When I think of these long distance relationships the first thing that comes to mind is the word “intentional.”  It’s easy to get distracted by our jobs, families, and life and to lose touch with our loved ones if we’re not intentional about keeping in touch and getting together when able.  We have to put forth effort and make things happen to maintain good relationships.  

So what are ways that we can be intentional with our relationships?  Communication!  Probably the most important way, especially in a long distance relationship.  One of the benefits of living in the age of technology is that this has become a lot easier than previous generations.  Being intentional about staying connected can be as easy as a quick text message when you think or are reminded of someone.  Giving a random call when driving in the car or going for a walk. Scheduling a video chat.  Sending some snail mail (who doesn’t get excited about receiving a personal letter or package, right?!).  Sending them a picture or video (and not just assuming that they may see it on social media).  It means a lot more coming from you directly than any public platform.  It shows you thought specifically of them making it more personal and further exemplifying that you are invested in that relationship.  I believe that the more personal you are in general the more loved and cared for people generally feel.  

We have to also intentionally set aside time for these relationships.  Sometimes it’s arranging that phone call or video chat.  It’s letting your family or friends know when you’re in town next and arranging a get together.  It’s making the effort and being willing to travel.  Now I know that these things are especially hard when you’re in the midst of life with littles, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  You just need to be more flexible and lower your expectations (that about sums up this stage of life in general, right?).  This particularly applies to “where” and “how long.”  Seize any opportunity you have, you will never regret the time spent with a loved one, even if it means you meet at a park for 30 minutes.  The “where” part may be more obtainable by meeting up at family friendly places (zoos, parks, museums, etc).  You’ll find that most people don’t care about where you’re meeting, but more who you’re meeting.  And don’t tie yourself down to a strict time.  Tell whoever you’re meeting your thoughts and general schedule to gauge a rough time frame and hope for the best!

In regards to long distance relationships and having a young family, we can be intentional by familiarizing our kids with those long distanced loved ones in hopes that they may grow to love and have a relationship with them too.  Some ways that I‘ve personally done this is by having plenty of pictures around the house so they are visually familiar with these people.  We have a screensaver setup on our tv where we’ve intentionally incorporated plenty of pictures of our long distance people, especially if we’re pictured with them.  The kids see the pictures with their aunts and uncles, etc and remember them and the fun trips we’ve had together.  We also have pictures on the fridge and in photo books around the house.  We FaceTime them with the kids.  We have the kids “write” and decorate cards to send.  We arrange the get togethers where most often there’s the opportunity for the kids to see or spend some time all together with these people.  We basically try to incorporate them as much as we realistically can. 

Being a mom and having a good relationship with Christ isn’t much different than any long distance relationship.  It starts with being intentional.  Being intentional to communicate and spend time with Him each day.  Somedays this may mean setting an alarm to get up early to pray or do a devotional (arranging that phone call or video chat).  Some days it’s praying in the shower or driving into town (random call).  Sometimes (oftentimes for me) it’s pausing for a quick prayer for wisdom and patience in the midst of the latest episode of “life with littles” (text message).  Other ways are to go to (or watch) your regular church service and sign up for a bible study or be in a small group.  This generally comes with a time commitment, not to mention the bonus of accountability and fellowship with other believers (arranging the get together).  Try to make a point to go to Christ-oriented conferences and events (plan a trip).  All these things will help you maintain and grow in your relationship with Christ.  

And just like in our long distance relationships with family and friends we need to also intentionally be teaching (familiarizing) our kids with Christ and the gospel.  We can do this by having pictures or visual reminders throughout the house, such as having their coloring page from Sunday school hung up, verses on the fridge or in frames, or a cross on the wall. That way they can be reminded of what they’ve learned or ask what something is and give you an opportunity to talk about what the symbol means and further present the gospel.  We can pray with them and read to them regularly from kids’ Bibles and books as a visual and FaceTime parallel.  We can also see FaceTime as a screen time equivalent and be intentional about incorporating Christian shows and apps into the mix.  We can have Christian coloring books or make Bible themed crafts (decorate a card).  And we can incorporate them in get togethers by having them in Sunday schools or kids groups such as an AWANAS.  Basically the hope remains the same that by intentionally incorporating our kids alongside us in as much as we can in our walk with Christ they may also come to love and follow Him.

So I encourage you to be intentional today. Be intentional in your relationship with loved ones and Christ. Keep communicating however you can and make the time and put in the effort. And if we are steadfast in our efforts to also include our kids in all these things and “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22: 6 (ESV)

– Katie A.


Published by MOMentsBBC

The MOMents ministry at Bethany Baptist Church in Peoria, IL exists to glorify God by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and preparing His people by encouraging, equipping, and developing all mothers of preschoolers to realize their potential in Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 2:8).

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