I am thrilled to introduce all of you to the first “depth over distance” couple, Ben and Brittany. Their story is told below, in Brittany’s words, and it’s a sweet one! I hope you will be as encouraged as I am by what she has to share 🙂
Ben and I have known each other since I was 7 and he was 9. His family lived in Atlanta for a few years, and his sister became one of my very best friends. Fast forward about a decade, and you’d find me visiting his family in their new home in Colorado. They had settled on it after traversing the country doing ministry on an RV for five years. It took Ben and I by surprise when we began to have feelings for one another, not to mention the horror of how to break the news to his sister who I am still extremely close with (It all worked out. She was thrilled). As Ben and I both share the belief that dating around and dating casually is not very beneficial to us, we decided to get to know each other better for a while before we began a real relationship. Our parents were completely supportive of us and encouraged us that we were wise in waiting. As I began to learn and understand this young man who had come into my life, I hated the space between us more and more. Flights between Georgia and Colorado are around $500, so we were only able to see each other two more times before Ben embarked on his semester at YWAM, being trained and sent out on outreach as a missionary. He would be gone for six months. Everything was very unknown back then. We weren’t sure if we would be able to talk at all. I remember one night right before he left, I got real with him and basically said “you can go, and if you meet a wonderful, godly woman that captures your heart, I won’t hold you back.” We liked each other a lot at this point, but I also knew he was starting a chapter in his life that I would not be a part of. It was hard to even imagine what a relationship with him would look like across thousands of miles. Letting him go was harder than I thought it would be. I realized I was falling in love with this man as I watching him board his flight to Kona for YWAM, and I had no idea if his face would light up the same way the next time he saw me. Much to my delight, Ben and I stayed close throughout his semester away. By the time he had returned, it was obvious that this thing between us was real and that God had woven our lives together despite the distance.
So one year after we began to have feelings for each other, we decided to officially start dating. It was a big deal, and I think that was in part because of how far away we lived from each other. Dating long distance is an all-or-nothing kind of deal. You either put in the effort to make it work, or it won’t. After lots of praying and seeking the advice of both of our parents, Ben called my dad and asked permission to pursue me. When he asked me to be his girlfriend, it was not a casual thing. It was the first time he told me he loved me, the first time he shared that he dreamed of marrying me one day, and the first time we could be honest and praise God for the wonderful thing that is falling in love. This all happened over the phone, of course, but we cherish the memory nonetheless. Ben and I have now been dating for nine months, three of which he spent in the wilderness with little to no cell service while on his NOLS semester in the rockies. At one point I didn’t hear from him for 28 days. And although the separation comes with pain and longing, it has taught us to enjoy our time together even more. We have learned to rely even more heavily on Jesus. We learned communication skills. We were stretched but it made our relationship even stronger. There have been buckets of tears, but all of those tears are outnumbered by the dreams and hopes we have for our future.
Two years with only a few weeks spent together to show for it. I wouldn’t trade those weeks for anything. People ask me all the time “How do you date someone so far away?” or, in disbelief, “You and that Colorado guy are STILL dating??” Yep, still dating. Long distance but completely, one-hundred percent worth it. This upcoming year is bringing a lot of new things into our lives. Some of it to be experienced together, some of it apart. But in everything, God is good. He is trustworthy. I never doubt that he has a reason for all of this that has not been revealed to us yet. With the right attitude, the mystery of Gods plans can be the fun part. I am confident that one day I will go back and re-read the letters and listen to the voicemails that were often all I had of Ben to remember. I don’t ever want to become numb to the joy of just hearing his voice or holding his hand. Long distance has taught me to cherish every last bit.