Grows fonder?

I have never been in a long-distance relationship. I cannot attest to the pains or perks of getting to see your loved one every couple weeks or months or trimesters.

(I realized the title may be deceiving, so I just felt like I needed to get that out of the way.)

I am a long-distance runner, though. I also go to school eight hours away from my family, and my closest girlfriends are scattered across the country. I put thousands of miles on my car (by my car, I mean my family’s Ford Flex) visiting and traveling for games and engagements and weekend trips each month.

At times, it truly feels like I’ve gone the distance.

The distance being the 550 miles from my suburban Ohioan home and family to my University, between the completion of a 17-mile run and the point at which I stand on the trail, the space between the one person I need to call and the sound waves moving it to New York City — it does wear and tear, all the while making my heart fonder yet full of combustion.

I write this on the cusp of a harsh dichotomy while towing the line of the equator. The dichotomy of a second semester senior: the burning desire of wanting to be fully present, to soak in every moment, and the painful realization that the clock is winding down and about to ring, so yes, you also have to be thinking ahead. The question mark at the end in the deceptive title is there for grammatical purposes — it is, in fact, a question — but also as a larger metaphor for the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Because for the most part, I feel like the old saying is true. Yes, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Yes, I yearn to see my family more and long to get to be there for the birthday dinners and proms the more that I am away. Yes, I miss the people I don’t have immediate access to and curse technology for fooling us that something could possibly beat quality time and a person’s presence. And yes, as graduation approaches I somehow find myself looking back fondly on the things I once complained about — the freshman sorority requirements and the 8 AM classes and the freshman fifteen brought on solely by 2 AM pizza and being unknown and the freedom of fearlessness.

As graduation approaches, though, my perception of distance has rapidly changed. You experience a diluted version of it during junior year: the sudden realization that you’re closer to graduating college than you are to going back and beginning. However, this is different.

It’s so different.

It is the length between where I stand and where I will be standing, which is still unknown. It is the space between early March and early May, which if you look on a calendar app, it seems like a quick two swipes away. I cannot speak a lot on the matter because I have no idea what is coming.

This is what I can tell you, though.

I can tell you that distance exhausts me. That as exciting as the idea of a three-hour run sounds the night before, when I wake up and it’s 30 degrees, it is hard to peel back the sheets. Distance makes me weary — of my friends forgetting me and of my siblings not remembering their SEC sister.

Distance can be dangerous. Distance is bold and courageous, but distance can instill uncertainty if we don’t have truth being told to us, if we aren’t secure in where we are.

Distance from the Lord, however, can make me doubt. (Can I say that here? Out loud, in writing, speaking it to the world?)

As people who fight to believe the good truth and great news, we must be reading the good truth and we must be listening to the great news and we must be closing the distance between us and our Father. We cannot think a weekly meeting or a few seconds a day will give us the intimacy and love to believe our name and Whose we are: Beloved.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, when you’re secure of your worth, your belonging, and your name. Distance makes me long for Him — for wholeness, for love, for forever.

He brings us the endurance and the strength to walk roads. He will whisper the security and safety of stepping with Him, no matter the length.

Take heart, ye of little courage.

Distance from our Father is temporary. The longing we feel for more, the feeling that we must have a larger purpose than what we’re doing right now . . .

Take courage, dear heart.

There is immeasurably more and greater on the way; we just feel like we are going the distance right now.

***

I will be running another long distance on April 17th from Hopkinton, MA to Boston in the 121st Boston Marathon! I am running on the Boston Bruins Foundation team and would love your support:

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