Keith and I met in church while he was serving his mandatory military National Service in Singapore. After helping plan a surprise event for a mutual friend we began chatting on MSN quite frequently. The chemistry was evident and tiny sparks began to fly. The only problem, the day after we officially started dating Keith was due to leave Singapore in less than two weeks.
Thus, began our 8 year journey of long-distance dating! Yes, you read that correctly, 8 years!
Was it easy? No way! Was it worth it for us? Absolutely. So, for all those in the same boat or those considering this option, here is our story. The up’s, the down’s, the tears, the laughter.
As 18 and 19 year olds, we’d be lying if we said we began the relationship with a clear end in mind. It was a scary decision, but we were prepared to give it a go. What we weren’t prepared for was the aches of being apart, the helpless phone calls and devastating partings each time we had to leave.
We missed so many milestones, like birthdays, anniversaries, graduation and family events.
I remember so many evenings I would sit by my bedside choking back tears saying: “I just want you here, why are you not here?”
To others, meeting up for a meal, going to the movies and even holding hands was a given. To us, it was a luxury that we definitely didn’t take for granted.
Communication was key in our relationship (and I think that goes for any relationship). We called each other every day and did video calls as much as we possible could too. We made sure we stayed connected, even when we were apart. Of course that had it’s challenges with misread tones and misunderstanding. There were definitely moments of tension and friction that came from not being able to say what we meant face to face and in the moment. Constant communication and clarification definitely became the cornerstone to use feeling connected and growing emotionally closer to one another even while we were apart.
We made an effort to meet at least twice a year. Initially, Keith did most of the traveling and stayed with different relatives and friends each time he came. We were definitely tempted with the thought of travelling together or meeting up somewhere given the chance. Our commitment to God and each other, however overruled what we sometimes felt like doing and empowered us to live with the bigger picture in view. As Christians, we wanted our faith to permeate every part of our lives, including our romantic relationship. We put in clear boundaries and with God’s grace we were able to walk them out.
I remember pinning and saving an image on Pinterest with this quote: “Years from now, our past will be a story. A story of long days and lonely nights, hard days and lack of sleep. We’ll live each day having intimately known the pain of being apart, we’ll appreciate and embrace our time together, knowing how lucky we are to have made it through, and we’ll find solace in the promise of a future together.” Being apart felt like forever, but being together felt like we were never apart.
This conviction kept us fixated on the end-goal of marriage and closing the distance.
I must confess that I was not ready to be the one who would move, but towards the tail-end of 7 years I felt God clearly speaking to me. Every sermon seemed to somehow link to Genesis 12, where God told Abram to leave his country. The constant undeniable tugging of my heart was a sure sign that this was God’s calling us into a new season, a season of being together and a making a life long commitment to one another.
So, on November 18th, 2018 we were married in Singapore and shortly after moved back to Perth, together.
I’m truly thankful to God and how He walked so graciously with us through this whole journey. I’m also grateful to the community of friends and family that supported us and gave us the wisdom we so desperately needed to navigate this sometimes rocky terrain.
Whenever I felt confused or discouraged I remember putting on a particular worship song and immediately feeling it pull me back into peace and clear my perspective. The one line, “Jesus at the center” was truly the thing that anchored us and keep us focused on a future together.
So, after a decade of long-distance dating (and now being married), I’m sure He will continue to be the center our life and our relationship.
Natasha Lim is a 29 year old educator and writer from Singapore, who now resides in Perth, Western Australia. this article first appeared on sabrinapeters.com. Sabrina Peters is a Christian writer, an avid Sex & Relationships blogger and part of the team at Kingdomcity. She is married to Ben and mother to Liberty & Lincoln. www.sabrinapeters.com.