Love is a beautiful thing. We are designed to love, to laugh, to be in relationship. Love brings joy.
But love isn't always an easy thing -- real love, anyway.
In the words of Mother Theresa, "True love hurts. It always has to hurt. If you really love one another, you will not be able to avoid making sacrifices."
"Wow", I say, "I want real love. I want to love sacrificially."
It sounds noble & honorable in theory. But when putting it into practice it can feel like it your heart is being ripped out, twisted, & tired as you trek along the long road.
I want to share a little on our story & how the Lord is using a long distance relationship to shape my heart & dependence on Jesus rather than romance.
Matt & I met in college. He was on the football team & happened to live a small house behind my apartment complex one year.
We went to the same campus youth group + sort of new each other through mutual friends. One night he came over to meet me and we ended up chatting for hours.
Over the rest of the fall semester we grew in fellowship, laughed way too much, took long drives in the country, spent hours worshipping on the lakeside with his guitar and my awful singing, and ultimately challenging & encouraging each other in Christ.
He played his senior football season & I learned how to not only watch a football game but also how to be part of a team in a whole new way.
Flash forward to today: Over the past several months He has been training for the opportunity to play professionally. What we thought would be a quick and painless process has really unfolded into one big challenging journey full of mountaintops and low valleys.
The Lord has revealed some big things about Himself, about His plan, to us through it all.
When we got engaged about a month ago, we were pretty confident that the Steelers would sign him as all signs pointed to that happening. But when it didn't go that way at all, we were left tired of the constant grind and confused what we had done wrong.
While he still has to train for the opportunity, He is doing so across the country in Arizona.
Oh, and he can't just get a job yet as it he has to dedicate a lot of time to training & be able to go to workouts with teams. So, here we are. Stuck on opposite sides of the country. Waiting. And wondering. Wondering when something will solidify. Wondering if all this strain is worth it.
A long distance relationship in itself is tough. Add very little direction and very much uncertainty on top of that and it can really strain a relationship. But that's part of the lifestyle of professional sports. There's no saying when and if we will be in the same state any time soon. We felt the Lord asking us to be patient & move our wedding back to 2017, & more other little challenges I won't bore you with.
Anyway, the past 6 months of disappointments and distance, I've found myself secretly resentful. In my heart it hurt that what should be the most joyful time of our relationship thus far -- right after getting engaged -- has turned out to be the most challenging, uncertain, upside down and backwards to what I had in mind for early engagement.
I've caught myself asking God, "why?" I've found myself irritated with Matt's constant working out and snapping footballs. I've found myself feeling doubtful, alone, and worn by the constant grind with what seems like little payoff.
Gosh, it's crazy how much I've ached to know His plan. To feel like there's an answer on the horizon. To answer my phone and hear that he got a call. That something, anything, has fallen into place.
I've been intentional in being very honest in my struggle with it the past few days. I've also been intentional in doing a heart check. For awhile there, I was fighting it, fooling myself into believing that I had it all together and that my longings didn't exist.
Oh but they do. And they won't go away. I long to be with my fiancé. I long to begin a life together. I long to know "the plan".
But the longer the Lord let's this uncertainty go on, the more I'm learning about His heart. He's forcing me to trust Him. He's breaking my longing for romance & wedding planning & earthly security and slowly molding it into a longing for His own heart.
When we are distant from the ones we love, our heart hurts & can become weary.
The same is true with God. I've realize that part of the problem is that my longings are out of wack. What my heart really longs for is the joy of the One who calms all worries, for my first Love. But in all my focus on hoping Matt & I "figure out" the plan, I've neglected to actually let go & trust the plan -- to hold fast to my one Jesus.
In this distance with Matt, my worries have caused me to grow distant from God.
Matt can't be my Jesus. Our marriage can't be my Jesus. A wedding can't be my Jesus. My desires for the here and now can't be my Jesus. Only Jesus can be my Jesus. And part of His plan is teaching me that. This waiting, this uncertainty, this frustration, and the growth that comes with it IS the plan.
The dry and quiet times, the hard times, the trying times aren't means getting us to an end. They are part of the cycle of faith. They are part of the growth between man & woman, they are part of the plan between my heart & my Father's.
The beautiful thing about the gospel is that it tells us this sweet truth: we belong to the God who IS the answer & that we can depend on a God that we may not fully understand but one that we can completely trust.
His plan is this. This sacred right now. Unfolding each day.