I remember pulling off my driveway with tears in my eyes and a heavy feeling in my stomach, leaving John standing there, waving goodbye. It would be 37 days until I would see him again, and I was dreading long distance. I was full of all sorts of fears. What if we didn’t get to talk as much? What if we started to grow apart? What if I couldn’t relate to his new experiences or he couldn’t relate to mine? What if he met someone else?
I struggled with these fears throughout the first year of long distance, and I let them affect the way I lived my life. I was always ready to rearrange my schedule to talk to John, even if it meant skipping out on spending time with my friends. John would tell me about how much fun he had the previous night, and so I felt like I was missing out. How could he be having all this fun when I never went a day without thinking about how many days it would be until I saw him again? Then I realized, I was so afraid of losing him that my fear was stunting my personal growth and our relationship
In my second year of college, I struggled with a lot on top of a long distance relationship: shifting friend groups and a close friend who was dealing with serious depression. I was perpetually stressed.
Finally, after many weeks of phone conversations with John that ended in tears, he said to me, “Jess, I love you very much. You know I’m always just a phone call away, but while I can’t physically be there right now, you need to work on being able to make yourself happy.”
He was right. John has always been good at challenging me to grow in a loving, patient manner. And since that moment years ago, I have spent many happy mornings and afternoons in coffee shops by myself.
I enjoy praying, reading, journaling, yoga, cooking, and volunteering. I love being outside in nature. Now, I willingly seek out opportunities that I think will challenge me. Once, I spent 9 weeks in a remote village in Uganda, and just last year, I started a post-graduate program where I moved to a city where I knew no one because I felt God was calling me there.
Ironically, once I stopped clinging so hard to my relationship with John out of fear of losing him, I was able to love John and be loved by him better. I have become less selfish in my love. I am genuinely excited and happy for him as he tells me about how much fun he had the previous night, and I encourage him to go out and be with people without any jealousy. I want what is best for him without any reservation.
I am blessed to be the girlfriend of such a patient, loving man, who wants me to be more fully myself and pushes me toward this. I used to be so afraid of changing, worried about how it would affect my relationship. Now, I actively seek out change, confident that my personal growth can only improve my relationship with John. Let go of your fear, and see where it takes you and your relationship!