I look at my watch. Again. Five minutes. I only have five more minutes until he has to leave. Again…
This happens every single time. He comes to visit for a weekend and it’s absolutely wonderful. But at some point the weekend ends. At some point our time runs out. At some point he has to leave. Again…
I wrap my arms around his waist and lean close into his chest. I’ve learned that if I grit my teeth and look away, I’m less likely to cry… He wraps his arms around my back and leans his cheek against the top of my head. I grit my teeth harder and will the tears farther back.
This is how it always ends.
This is how every goodbye begins.
Standing beside his car, still trying not to cry, I decide that talking might help me change my pattern of thinking. If I can get my mind off of the inevitable goodbye, off of the negative time between, and onto the next visit, the next time I’ll see him, maybe I can get through this with a little more grace than I typically do.
“It’s only three weeks this time until I get to see you again!” I say in what I hope is a light, happy tone. Of course, in my head I’m thinking, Three weeks. Three weeks of long distance. Three weeks of feeling like half of me is missing. Three weeks… “That’s only 21 days and that’s shorter than our normal four weeks apart.” Sigh. 21 days is so short until it’s the 21 days he’s not here…
“I know,” he responds as he hugs me tighter.
He’s always so much more positive than I am. It’s like I have this root of negativity in my mind that pops up whenever it pleases, which is often. I’ve been praying about it…
“I’m gonna miss you, Brandon. A whole heck of a lot.” There they are. I feel the tears stinging the backs of my eyes, begging to be loosed. Deep breath.
“I’m gonna miss you too. A whole, whole heck of a lot.” He pulls away and looks at me. He’s so serious, but a smile is playing at the corners of his mouth.
I smile up at him as a tear finally falls down my cheek. How swiftly he wipes it away and another follows. Dang it. I was going to be good this time. I wasn’t going to cry! I think to myself. Granted, I think those things to myself every time. It only rarely works.
“I love you,” I say, trying to smile and keep the wobble out of my voice.
The answering gleam in his eyes is enough to pull me over the edge. I tuck my head back into his shoulder and squeeze tight. “I’ll see you in three weeks. Not long at all. You’ll be back before we know it.” Even I’m not convinced… The wobble in my voice gives me away even when my face is hidden.
I look at my watch. Again. Two minutes…
“You need to go,” I say against his chest.
“I don’t want to leave.” He squeezes tighter again.
“I know. I don’t want you to leave either but we’ll be together again soon. And one day I’m not gonna have to miss you so much. One day you won’t have to leave me and I won’t have to leave you.” Please let that day come soon, I silently pray.
He pulls my chin up and forces me to look at him as he says, “236 days.”
“236 days,” I echo. “Then I’ll be your wife. Then I’ll be able to see you everyday. Then when we say ‘goodbye’ it’ll just mean that I’ll see you later that day. I can’t wait to marry you. 236 days.” So. Far. Away…
“I can’t wait to marry you either,” he says as he puts a hand on my cheek and wipes away the tears that are quickly replaced by new ones. “I have to go.” His words are so at odds with what I can see so plainly in his eyes: I want to stay. He kisses me one last time and pulls away. “I love you.”
It’s strange. The moment he pulls away it truly feels as if a piece of me is left there, with him. “I love you too,” I whisper as he turns away for the millionth time to get into his car to drive away for the millionth time. I wipe at my tears.
I’ve endured five years of this. Five years of waiting a month to see him for a weekend. Five years of making the most of the time we have together and trying not to fall to pieces when we’re apart. Five years filled with so many goodbyes…
I hate goodbyes. Hate them. Especially when they happen so often. Especially when they are filled with so much emotion that you can’t even think straight. Especially when they mean so much.
He turns his car on, rolls his window down, and tells me again that he loves me and will see me soon. I return the sentiment and give him one last kiss before he pulls out of the driveway.
I stand on the porch, tears streaming down my face, as I watch him back away. Just before he leaves, he holds up the “I love you” sign and smiles through his window. I sign and smile back through my tears as he drives forward… Away from me… Again…
Every single time he leaves, I watch until I can’t see him anymore. Until he rounds a corner or gets too far for me to see. Sometimes I wait there for a while. Sometimes minutes, sometimes longer. Most times there are tears. Most times the tears come more quickly and forcefully after he is out of sight… But there’s something about watching him leave me. Again. And again. And again…
Sometimes I catch myself thinking, This isn’t fair! What did I do wrong? Why does everyone around me get to enjoy their relationship all the time and I only get monthly visits? Why do we have to suffer this over and over again? For years! Why didn’t my friends have to wait this long? Why do they get to love each other so easily while we suffer again and again?
No! I would NEVER wish this on anyone. It sucks. A lot. Knowing that someone is your husband and knowing that you have to keep waiting and keep being apart is awful. I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this. I’m thrilled my friends didn’t have to wait 6 years like I will. I’m so happy that they are able to love their people as often as they can. And I know that I also have friends who haven’t yet found their person and I know that is extremely difficult: to watch everyone else experience what you are dreaming or praying or hoping for while you still can’t or aren’t. And I know that there are so many other people out there waiting longer and traveling farther. No, it isn’t fair, but as a wise woman once told me, “Life isn’t fair. Fair only comes once a year.”
No one’s life is easy. No one’s life is perfect. If you think that it is, you’re either wrong or blind to the imperfections in your own life. Sometimes it’s just harder than others…
I have to remind myself each time Brandon leaves that God has a plan for us. And not only does God have a plan for us, but that this is His plan for US, not other people. That God wants us to be in this exact situation at this exact moment for this exact amount of time. I have to remind myself that the Lord is the only one who can help me get through the negativity, and the depression that comes with it if I don’t surrender my negativity to the Lord, when we are apart. That may sound dramatic, but it’s the honest truth. When we are apart, Satan uses any bit of negativity and turns it into something I fixate on if I am not careful to keep my eyes on God. It is in those moments that I have to remember that regardless of what I want or think I need, God knows best and He has it all under control.
So, here’s to 230 days until our monthly goodbyes become a thing of the past and something we thank the Lord for teaching and guiding us through. Here’s to 230 more days of learning through the distance and loving across the miles.
If you want to read the beginning of the story, you can read it here.
So now you know that I lived out a Hallmark movie and got my first boyfriend for Christmas in 2012. Today’s part of the story, however, is about a mere seven days later on New Year’s Eve.
It started out just like every other New Year’s Eve had over the past few years. I was getting ready to go to a friend’s house to celebrate with the girls in our youth and college group. Of course, throughout the entirety of my readying, I was texting Brandon and trying to wrap my head around the fact that I, for the first time in my life, actually had a boyfriend. What a weird word! Boyfriend. My boyfriend. Weird. Of course, I hadn’t seen him or anything like that… We do happen to live a small distance away from each other; though the distance is great enough to limit our visits to one weekend each month, except for special occasions. However, on this particular New Year’s Eve, we had yet to see each other since our first encounter, six months earlier at summer camp.
It was our one week anniversary! (I know. Gross.) However, the conversation we were having was short and seemingly one-sided. I was suspicious. It turned out that I was right to be suspicious. The boy was acting upon a plan that had been in the works for quite some time…
You see, Brandon was a tricky little booger. Well, he still is if I’m being completely honest. Remember that whole boyfriend for Christmas over text message thing? That isn’t exactly how he had planned for that conversation to go. He had talked with a few people and had already planned to come up to visit me for New Year’s Eve and that is when he had planned to ask me to be his girlfriend in person rather than over text. Which, by the way, he has apologized for profusely since that day.
So, there I am. Almost finished with the daunting task of blow drying my insanely thick hair. My sister also happens to be in the room with me, though she is standing on the edge of the bathtub to better see herself in the mirror above the sink. We also just so happened to be singing at a not so quiet volume…
There was a knock at the door. I turned the blowdryer off, we stopped singing, and I opened the door to see my mother standing there with a big grin on her face. “You have a visitor,” she trilled as she walked away.
I was in shock! There was no way that the absolutely insane boy that I had just recently agreed to start “dating” (remember that previous discussion about the difference I hold between “talking” and “dating”) actually took the time and spent the money to drive 250 miles just to see me. I walked out of the bathroom mumbling, “It better not be…”
It was. I turned the corner and there he was. He was actually there! Standing in my living room and grinning from ear to ear was the boy I hadn’t seen in half a year. Needless to say, I rushed over to him and gave him a long awaited embrace followed by a few laughs. Apparently my face was priceless or something like that.
Standing there beside him for what felt like the first time, I realized something. He was tall! I mean, I knew he was 6’4, but seeing as I hadn’t really been around him, I had honestly forgotten how much taller he was than I.
As we walked out of the house and made our way to the New Year’s Eve party, I felt every bit like an awkward teenage girl going on her very first date. I mean, it wasn’t a date. It was an ambush. But that’s beside the point. The smiles were radiant and the laughter was genuine.
When we walked into our friend’s house, everyone laughed and started talking at the same time. Brandon had brought two of his friends from home and they were waiting there for us as well. Apparently everyone had been a part of the ambush except me. I was bitter at first, but that faded away rather quickly. I guess my joy at seeing him in person and actually being there with him overshadowed my bitterness.
Now, our New Year’s Eve parties aren’t really anything like, well anything. That night we sat around the room, watched Pitch Perfect, and talked about life. There was also a toast around midnight with some sparkling apple juice and perhaps a hand was held here and there, but that’s as close to a typical New Year’s Eve party as we get. I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
We left later on that night and I got another first for the New Year: my first kiss. It wasn’t anything super romantic. Actually it was rather awkward because he just so happened to miss the first time… Got me right on the side of my mouth! He’s a keeper, I know it! He redeemed himself a moment later and met his mark. Only for a short moment, but it marked the beginning of a new year with a new guy. Actually, it marked the first year with the first guy that will hopefully be the last guy. But I guess we will have to wait and see what God has planned for us.
Have you ever noticed that as soon as someone gets sick, everyone in the church starts praying for divine healing? It’s actually quite incredible. There is nothing that brings a congregation together more quickly than someone who is in need of prayer. There might be prayer warriors praying Bible verses that may sound a little something like this: “Almighty Father, Creator of the Heavens and Earth, You formed us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and you know every detail about us, even how many hairs are on our head (Luke 12:7). We praise You because You have given us another day to glorify You on this earth. We pray, in the name of Jesus, that You would be present here today, Lord. You said in Your Word that where 2 or more were gathered, You would be there also (Matthew 18:20). So be here with us today as we seek Your help. Lord, we know that You are our comforter and our healer (1 Corinthians 1:3-4). We pray, Father God, that You would find favor with us, Your servants, and heal this person of their affliction or disease, just as You did time and time again when Jesus walked the earth (Matthew 12:15, Matthew 9:35 and a ton more). We pray that Your almighty hand would reach down from Heaven and touch this person. Let Your healing power be made known to them and right every wrong in their body right now, in the name of Jesus Christ. You are the creator of our bodies and we know that You are more than able to heal us (Psalm 139:13, Psalm 103:3). You said that if we ask anything according to Your name, then the Father will hear us and answer (John 14:14). Lord, You said that all we have to do is ask and we will receive (John 14:14, Matthew 7:7). So, Holy Father, we’re asking. We’re praying healing over this person. Let the balm of Gilead fall on them from the top of their head to the soles of their feet and let Your power be made known to them (the balm of Gilead is mentioned in Jeremiah 8:22 as a balm for healing, but is never actually mentioned in the Bible being used in a prayer for healing over someone, which is what it is commonly used for). Father God, You are good and we know that You are in control (Psalm 107:1). So we ask that you would heal this person in the name of Jesus. We thank You for the healing that we know is already taking place, Lord, and we claim this victory in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Did you notice how pretty much all of that was based on scripture? It was incredible, wasn’t it? There was so much power in that prayer. And yet, if you read it again, then you will find that not once does it say, “But above all else, Father God, we want Your will to be done.” That’s how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before his Crucifixion (Matthew 26:42), so isn’t that how we should be praying too? We can pray all of the prayers we want to for healing or for prosperity or happiness or anything else that we want. And, yes, the Bible does say, “Delight Yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). But the first part is the key to that verse. If Christ isn’t first, then you’re doing it wrong. Yes, the Bible says, ” if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:15). But we are missing something. If we look back one verse in 1 John 5, we will see this is the precursor: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
I believe that is the key. Unless we are praying according to God’s will, then aren’t we kind of praying in vain? Don’t get me wrong. Please keep praying for healing and for miracles to happen, because they do happen all the time. I completely believe in the power of healing and the power that God has. He is able to do more than we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and He is certainly able to heal me or anyone else of any disease and He has proven Himself faithful in that time and time again. I am not questioning God’s ability. I am questioning our prayer style. I believe that we can pray beautiful, Biblical prayers, but we also need to remember that God’s way is better and that He has a greater plan for us than what we can currently see (Jeremiah 29:11).
So why not pray something like this: “Holy Father, we pray that you would reach Your sovereign hand down from Heaven and heal this person. But, Lord, we pray that Your will would be done above all else. If this is a part of Your plan for them, give them grace and patience as they walk through this hard time. Give them joy and increase their steadfastness as You walk with them (James 1:2). If it is Your will to heal them, then let Your healing power rain down on them. But if it is not Your will, then let Your presence be known to them in a way that they cannot deny and cannot ignore as they walk through this hard time. You are good and we have faith that Your plan for our lives is better than anything that we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and we ask that You would take control. Send Your Holy Spirit to comfort them through the hard times as well as the joyous times. Let Your will be done Your way, in Your timing, and to Your glory. Amen.”
It’s a simple addition verbally or mentally to our prayers, however, it is a much more complex idea to believe and trust in our hearts and souls. But it can be done. Trust me. I’ve done it. I normally end my prayers with a little mantra that I’ve developed over the years: “Your will. Your way. In Your timing. And to Your glory. Not mine.” It’s that simple to say. It’s much harder to trust it and allow God to take your prayers and mold them into what He has planned; to align your will with His. But isn’t that what we should want? We should want His will to be done and for Him to be glorified above all else. So why not pray it? Why not live it?
God has a much better plan for me than I could ever imagine, so I choose to trust Him with all of the details of my life. Right now, His plan includes me having VEDS. However, I know that He can take this thing that was meant for death and turn it around for my good and His glory (Genesis 50:20). The thing is, I have to allow Him to do that. It’s my choice to make, and I have made it. No one else can make this decision for me. It was not easy and it takes constant work. I am no where near perfect and I am talking to myself just as much as I am talking to you. There are many things that I am still having to ask God to take over because I keep trying to control them myself. But I am trying.
Now it’s your turn. You get to decide who is in control of your life: you or the God who made you? Who will it be?