The turning of the calendar to August has always been a reminder that the school year is just around the corner. Since childhood, the beginning of a new school year has been both exhilarating and daunting. There is excitement that comes with buying new school supplies, preparing for new classes, and moving up to a new grade. However, with that excitement also comes a fear of all the changes ahead.
Throughout my education career, one the hardest changes I have encountered has been long distance friendships. In both high school and college, some of my best friends were older and younger than me, leaving me to graduate before or after them. Inevitably, long distance friendships were created. After sharing life together every day, it was challenging to learn how to maintain and grow a friendship from a distance.
While some people may believe that long distance automatically limits or ends a friendship, I've found that long distance friendships are entirely possible. In fact, with a little TLC and creativity, they can become some of the most meaningful and beautiful friendships you have. Here are some practical pointers on how to be love from a distance!
1. Snail Mail. Even though are world is so techy, nothing beats a handwritten letter. Letters show intentionality and thoughtfulness on the part of the writer. How exciting is it to get a handwritten letter in the mail?!
- Pro Tip: Sneakily obtain an unsuspecting friend’s address and write an affirmation note during your prayer time. I find that when I do this, the Lord uses me as an instrument to write the words he wants my friend to hear. Try it!
2. Phone Call or FaceTime. Texting is fine for day-to-day chatting, but actual voice conversations are where “inner deepies” are shared. Plan a date and make a point to clear your schedule for a few hours, showing your pal that she’s a priority, not just another item on your schedule.
- Pro Tip: Be bold and make a random phone or FaceTime call. While scheduled dates are good, a random call can make someone’s day. The next time a friend crosses your mind, give her a call and let her know you’re thinking about her.
3. Visits. If you have the means to go visit a friend who is long distance, go for it! It’s one thing to hear about your friend’s life from you friend, but it’s another thing to take a visit and experience it for yourself.
- Pro Tip: Plan a surprise trip and expect tears of shock and joy.
4. Intentional in Person Time. When you do have the chance to reunite with a long distance friend, be intentional about your time together. It’s easy to keep it to group activities or to do an activity together. While those are good things to do, it’s important to also make time for lengthy conversations. Make a point to share a meal or grab coffee together.
- Pro Tip: Dare to have an open schedule. In Resisting Happiness, Matthew Kelly writes that we are in the habit of limiting the time we spend with our friends. He says that what friendships need are carefree time. When you ask your friend to hang out, pick a start time, but not an end and see where the day takes you.
So whether you are heading off to college, or to a new school, or just saying farewell to long distance friends, remember that friendships, like most worthwhile things, take work and effort.
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.