The prospect of moving 800 miles away filled me with grief. As an introverted person, anticipating the loss of the friendships I’d built over many years was deeply painful. I feared losing the proximity that wove my life into the fabric of others’. I feared distance would unavoidably change, or even end, those relationships. I was, in many ways, ready for a new adventure, but the thought of starting over relationally was a heavy weight in my heart.
My friend’s words were a surprising gift. And the remedy to my ache.
“Kirsten, I don’t want to lose the closeness we share just because you’re moving. What do you think of setting a weekly phone date so we can keep in touch?”
The commitment she offered was a significant one: as a full-time, high-level employee at a Fortune 100 company, a wife, and mother, time was a precious commodity in her life. Yet because of the value she placed on our friendship, she was willing to arrange her schedule to accommodate a call every week. Her expression of intentionality made me feel accepted, chosen, and valued. I responded in kind: the same commitment, the same expression of love.
Nearly ten years later, that standing date still graces my calendar each Thursday. We’ve missed a handful of times because of travel or holidays. More often than not, however, we move our call to another day and time in the week so we don’t have to skip.
Because we’re current on the happenings in each other’s life, we’re able to cut straight to the chase when the phone rings:
“Was your daughter accepted to the school she wanted?”
“What did the physician say? I can book a flight today if you need me to be there.”
“You were really hurting after your last interaction with your neighbor. I’ve been praying for you. Have you seen her this week?”
And because of the commitment, we trust one another not only to hold our confidences, but also to speak the hard truths that occasionally need to be heard:
“It sounds like you overreacted. Have you thought about following up to mend fences?”
“Can you help me understand how your thinking holds up in the light of Scripture?”
“You’re being way too hard on yourself. God’s grace is sufficient to cover this, too.”
In an era when texts often replace dialog, these conversations have an even higher value to me; the investment of time has borne abundant fruit.
I never dreamed our friendship could be stronger after I moved away. And yet that’s exactly what’s happened. While other relationships from my previous hometown have ebbed slowly into the backdrop of my life, and new ones have surged forward as I embraced our new life, this friendship remains anchored deeply in my heart. Our friendship is a point of continuity, bridging not just the distance between our geographical locations, but also the passage of time that flows so swiftly. Our friendship arcs across both decades and miles.
It’s true: distance does change relationships. In a wonderful way if we’ll let it.