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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Long Distance Relationships

Today is my friend, Amy's birthday. (She's younger than I am.)

She is an amazing lady. She is an amazing wife. She runs a well-organized home. She has three wonderful children. She has a home based business. She runs a ladies' ministry. She's very creative. She stamps, scrapbooks and does many other artsy things.

She is truly the anchor, fabric and glue that holds her family together. She serves her family in such a way that they will surely rise up and call her blessed.

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." (Proverbs 31:28-29)

She is this same type of friend. She is a loyal, supportive and encouraging friend. One who "loves at all times."

We have a very strange and wonderful relationship.

This relationship has included youth group choir trips, maids-of-honor, baby showers and letters of advice.

The thing about it is that almost the entire 18 years that we've been friends, we've done it long distance. We have rarely lived in the same city at the same time. Our entire friendship is based on long distance correspondence. There have been many letters and many phone calls.

When we met in high school youth group, we went to different high schools. We really weren't that far away from each other but in the school cafeteria it felt like a thousand miles.

This was before cell phones and emails. We had to do most of our early bonding between 8:00 and 10:00 at night before "phone curfew" kicked in and homework called. Different high schools meant that even when we attended sporting events we did so without each other. We would write each other notes at school and trade them with each other at youth group on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.

We met my senior year of high school. I was getting ready to graduate. I was excited to spend my last summer under my parent's roof with friends and saying good-byes.

Then I found out that Amy would be spending that whole summer studying abroad..Indonesia to be exact. I was devastated. This event, however; shaped the future of a lasting, meaningful and fulfilling long distance friendship.

We wrote each other regularly, religiously. The unspoken rule was you couldn't read a letter unless you could sit down and write one right back. We corresponded all summer. She said she felt like she was at home with everyone.

We continued this practice, reading, writing and sending, throughout college. No surprise, we attended separate colleges.

These letters were a highlight of my college experience. It was fun to check the mailbox because I could count on Amy. Even if no one else was writing...Amy would. These letters, chronicles of our lives, grew us and bonded us together.

Through letter writing I could a reveal a part of myself that may not have been as easily or as quickly revealed through face-to-face conversation.

During those early years of our friendship, there were no cell phones only long distance calls. Thus, we actually heard each others voices very infrequently.

Our universities happened to be fairly close to one another so we did see each other from time to time for lots of fun. We shopped, ate chocolate and watched Anne of Green Gables.

I loved knowing that no matter what life was holding out to me each day I had the chance to receive a letter from Amy. I loved knowing that she knew the deepest parts of me that I poured out to her in my letters and she loved me anyway.

Corresponding with Amy was an experience that has enriched and shaped my life in so many ways. It may have been here in combination with my journals that I first learned how to express myself on paper, how to really convey my heart through writing. These letters were always a way for me to stretch myself creatively as I attempted to entertain her with the stories of my life.

Now we have both grown into women with families. She now lives far away in another state. Her visits are few but very precious. Our children love each other like they see each other all the time. They pick up on our connection.

Amy's friendship is still a place I go to reflect. With young children, letters are rare, emails seldom and phone calls hurried; yet, we're still just as connected as we were 10, 15 or 18 years ago...maybe more.
Because we shared all our secrets with one another long ago, we can now connect instantly over the phone in the car with a baby crying. I love this. I am so thankful that she was a loyal, long distance, letter-writing friend. Immeasurable blessing has blossomed from those wrinkly, rice paper, air mail letters. Now, I love Indonesia.

I love Amy and I love our story.

Happy Birthday, my long distance friend. You're amazing! I love you!



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Kathryn Berilla said...

Letter writing is a lost art. We think emails are the same, but they are not. To pour out your heart with pen and paper takes time which usually equals love.

Amy said...

Lisa, thank you for this precious gift of words. I love you. You are such a blessing to me. I too treasure our friendship and all our letters. I have saved them all and am looking forward to scrapping them someday. It will be fun to share it with our girls. I pray that Leah has a best friend like you. I miss our chats over donut cake and mac & cheese. Our weekend marathon watching Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite memories. Thank you so much for blogging me. I am truly touched.