What Long Distance Relationships Teach us about Gratitude


When we think about gratitude, I think we often conjure up mental images of being with our family, spending time with those we love, traveling together, having dinner together, doing things. All the things.

But over the past few months, and especially as the air grows crisp and the holiday season rolls around, I've found that I've come to look at gratitude in a different way than I used to-- in a deeper way.

My boyfriend is in the Air Force, and is currently deployed. It's rough being away from someone you love so deeply for almost 7 months. But being apart has begun to lead me into a fuller understanding of thankfulness. So here are 7 things this deployment has taught me so far about gratitude. (and this applies to any long distance relationship, or friendship.)


1. the little things are the big things

talking on the phone, or getting a simple "good morning" text... normally these things are seen as small, but when you're long distance, you begin to find that these things are SO full of joy. You look forward to sending and receiving those texts, and those moments of hearing their voice, or seeing their pixel-y face through a Skype call.

The gifts they've given you, like the token on your desk, a bracelet around your wrist, or the sweatshirt they gave you, become more than just gifts; they're vivid reminders of that person and how much they mean to you; what a blessing they are in your life and how grateful you are for them.


2. your consciousness of who they are increases

When you're with someone in person, you're often overwhelmed by a lot of things, like... YOU'RE WITH THEM IN PERSON EGHIOBGSDFIUH YAAAY. Let's do things, let's party! 

Don't get me wrong, you can definitely become aware of so many qualities someone has when you're with them in person. But when you're in a long distance relationship, or friendship, you're given space and distance to really appreciate all the little things that make them who they are-- things that you may not necessarily notice when you are with them in person. 

Like their thoughtfulness: when they snapchat you pictures of something they saw that reminded them of you, or when they write you letters and send long emails or sweet "thinking of you" texts. When they take the time to ask you how you're feeling, or what's been on your mind lately-- these are all things that really get emphasized in a long distance relationship.


3. you become SUPER grateful for technology.

Your phone and your laptop are LIFELINES. Bless everyone who stayed up late drinking red bulls in a basement somewhere inventing Skype and Face Time. We love you. A lot. And we don't take you for granted.

As rough as LDRs can be... it's nothing compared to what it would be like sans phones, computers, and technology. I don't even want to imagine what waiting weeks for letters must have been like.


4. you learn new ways to express your thankfulness for that person

When your with someone in person, you can give them a big hug and tell them how much you love them. You can stay up and watch a movie together, go out for a bite to eat, grab ice cream, or go for long rides to watch the sunset and listen to your favorite albums.

But in LDRs you have to get a little more creative. Because you can't do any of that. :')

You think of new ways to express your love and gratitude for that person; creative snaps, or short video messages via Messenger. Your plan "Skype Dates", you send super sweet care packages, you write letters, you read a book together and discuss it chapter-by-chapter, you download the same work-out challenge apps and do them together. In other words, you EXPAND the communication of your thankfulness in ways that you may not have if you lived next door to that person, or if you were with them 24/7.


5. it creates a very, very DEEP appreciation for when you DO get to spend time with them in person

So often we take for granted the fact that we get to sit across the table from someone and share a meal with them, or go out for coffee with our best friend in the flesh. Being in a long distance relationship has taught me to savor the time I spend with my boyfriend when we're together, because we can't always be together in person.

Having several more months to go before his deployment is over, we often find ourselves talking about all the little coffee dates and day trips we went on together before he left, going over small details that we may not have even thought that much about when they were happening. The distance only reminds us of how sweet, and deeply valuable all those many little experiences are.


6. you become aware of what a blessing family and friends can be

When a close friend texts you to ask how you're holding up, or when your mom takes you our for a London Fog and a pep talk, you begin to feel this sense of how deeply your friends and family care, and how much you care about them.

I am so thankful for my family, and I have become even more aware of my gratitude for them because of this deployment. When my sister stays up late and talks with me, or when my mom and I spend time together, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for them, and the fact that I have such amazing and supportive people in my life, and that I am not alone.


7. Strong long distance relationships always include a third party

In order to have a strong relationship or friendship with someone long distance, you have to rely on something bigger than the two of you.

For us, the belief that God's got us is what keeps us going and keeps our relationship strong. Yes, of course there are fears and doubts and uncertainties when we're thousands of miles apart, but if we spent all of our time with our eyes focused on us and all the "what ifs", our relationship would be a weak, unhappy, and fear-oriented one.

Instead, in relationships, friendships, and life in general, what makes our hearts feel the fullest is when we focus not on the turbulence of this world, but on the promises God has so boldly declared to us, giving us His protection, His love, and His grace.

 “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.  I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.  When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place,  it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God,  The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:  all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me!  That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,  trade the creation just for you.
[ Isaiah 43:1-4 from the Message translation]

Long distance relationships and friendships give us a hardcore opportunity to really, honestly trust our Papa, and trust that His plans are to "...prosper us and not to harm us." That His plans are to "give us hope and a future." [Jeremiah 29:11]

And sometimes this is a hard thing to do. Sometimes trusting is something you have to actively make yourself do. But the process only makes you stronger-- and in my experience, much happier.



Are you in the long distance relationship or friendship? What are some of the things that keep you going? How has gratitude surfaced more in your life because of your LDR?






lOVE,
kATE

so so so thankful for all of you! <3 I hope you guys have a wonderful thanksgiving! 

7 comments:

  1. Kae this is a great post. You make long distance sound so much easier than it is. I hope things stay strong between you two! Technology really is so helpful

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  2. I cannot express my love for this post enough. As someone who has several long distance friendships, I can most definitely relate!!

    There was so much of your heart in this post, and I think that was what I loved most about it. I've been praying for y'all a ton and had you on my mind quite a bit, especially with the holidays. I hope that you guys stay super strong- I know that you will. <3

    I just cannot express my love for this post enough. <3<3<3<3<3

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  3. i have so many long-distance instagram friends, and one of my greatest hopes is to meet them in person some day. technology is amazing, for sure.

    thank you to your boyfriend for serving our country <3

    evelyn | epilogue

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  4. I loved this post, I'm going to send it to my brother's fiance.
    Praying for you and your boyfriend <3

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  5. All I can say (scream) is, "YES" to every.single.little.thing. This can totally be applied to friendship and it's so true. Every bit of it. <3 LDR's are hard, but so so so so so worth it.

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  6. This is sooo true! And so beautiful. I'm totally speechless. <3

    Bernie
    www.uniquelyyou1.blogspot.com

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  7. So I ambled in to do some binge reading of BY posts and wow this is timely since I've been in a LDR for close to a month now. All of this is so true..I miss his voice when we don't talk on the phone for a few days. Every conversation we have, I cherish so much. And that last bit..yes! If God wasn't in this relationship, me being the anxious person that I am, would totally flop and fail when it comes to healthy attachment.

    Awesome post!

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