On a gorgeous summer night, lakeside in Minnesota, my husband and I attended a going-away party. Our friends, Joan and Tom, were moving to Oregon.
At the party that night, I was eventually introduced to another friend of theirs named Sue. She and I immediately clicked, and conversation soon flowed between us. During our thoroughly enjoyable conversation, Sue mentioned that another close friend of hers had recently moved and how hard the situation had been. Upon learning about her situation, I was reminded of the time my close friend, Deb, had moved from Minnesota to Oregon. I was also reminded that, since Deb’s move, our relationship had grown deeper.
I sympathized with Sue over her friend’s move and eventually shared Deb’s and my story with her, hoping to offer some encouragement. Sue listened intently, and when I finished talking, she asked me the following question: “How have you maintained your long-distance friendship?” Pondering Sue’s great question, an answer came to mind. As I shared it with Sue, she seemed to be taking mental notes. At the same time, she seemed somewhat encouraged.
Since meeting Sue at the going away party, her great question has remained on my mind: How have you maintained your long-distance friendship? Since originally answering Sue’s question, I have thought of more ways Deb and I have maintained our friendship. These ways may be helpful for you, too, if you have experienced the heartbreaking pain of a close friend’s move.
HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR LONG-DISTANCE FRIENDSHIP
1. Consistent Texting
Thankfully, in the day and age in which we live, cell phones are available, and texting provides a wonderful way to help maintain a long-distance friendship. Deb and I text at least once a week, but usually more. Sometimes our texts seem more like an email, but generally they’re short and don’t require a lot of time. We might text dates of important events in our lives or about certain situations that affect us or our families. We text travel dates, too, pictures from special occasions, and more. Through texts, Deb and I have shared our lives—joys as well as struggles and sorrows.
2. Praying Together
Of all the various ways to help maintain and strengthen a long-distance friendship, I believe that prayer is the most important way. Deb and I often send a short text to each other with a prayer request. It may be a prayer request for ourselves, our family, a friend, our country, etc. And we text the answers to those prayers. God has heard and answered countless prayers of ours, and praise to Him always overflows.
Every other week, Deb and I also text each other the name of a family member, friend, or acquaintance. Then, for two weeks, we pray for that person’s salvation. Answers to those salvation prayers have bonded us together in a special way.
3. “Coffee Chats”
Although Deb and I don’t talk on the phone often, every once in a while we set up a “coffee chat” time with each other—reminiscent of our past coffee shop get-togethers. Our “coffee chats” are usually two hours long, and the time flies by! There is nothing like hearing each other’s voice and laughing together once again.
When we get to the end of our conversation and hang up, we invariably remember things we forgot to ask about or to mention. So before the day ends, we put those things in a text!
4. Sharing Memories
Shared memories can also play an important part in maintaining a long-distance friendship. Years before Deb moved, we would go on an annual day trip to a small town near where we both lived. We would generally go around Christmastime, but later on we included a springtime trip as well. We would talk and explore the charming little shops, buy some unique gifts at Christmastime, and enjoy the best burger and malt at our favorite diner. A stop at the local coffee shop was always a part of our day trips, too.
Those fun shared memories from our past day trips still come to life often, and there is such joy in still being able to talk about them with each other.
5. Sending Gifts
Gifts are another way to maintain a long-distance friendship. After Deb’s move, we began a tradition of sending each other a box of Christmas gifts. Those Christmas boxes became a very fun tradition, one we joyfully anticipated each year. As we opened each gift, we knew it had been lovingly selected just for us.
In addition to our annual Christmas boxes, Deb and I would send birthday gift boxes. Eventually we decided to simplify things and just send a birthday box. But I still remember the fun of receiving those past Christmas boxes as I yearly unwrap adorable Christmas ornaments that originally arrived in those boxes.
6. Visiting One Another
In-person visits are another way to help maintain a long-distance friendship. Deb and her husband occasionally get back to Minnesota for work, and we connect then. But my favorite in-person visit comes to mind now . . .
Years ago, Deb graciously invited me to Oregon for a visit, and I gratefully went. The wonderful memories from those days together are forever imprinted on our hearts—especially the following memory. On a beautiful summer night in Oregon, far from the city lights, Deb and I sat outside on their deck listening to some worship music I had brought along on the trip. Sitting in Adirondack chairs, we truly worshiped the Lord that night. (I had been learning more about worship back then and shared my thoughts with Deb.) We will never forget that meaningful time with the Lord, worshiping Him side by side.
Later, back home in Minnesota, I found a quilt to send to Deb that she could wrap around herself during any cooler Fall worship nights on her deck.
7. Encourage One Another
Another great way to help maintain a long-distance friendship is by encouraging each other’s faith. Deb and I share spiritual resources that have personally blessed us, resources we know will be a blessing to the other. Sometimes we text or email a special song, a powerful sermon, a faith-building article, a personal insight gained, or a meaningful podcast. At times, we also send a Bible study or a book which has blessed us. As believers in Jesus, these various resources encourage us to stand firm in the faith, teach us new things, or fill our hearts with thanks and praise to God.
Although there may be many other ways to maintain a long-distance friendship, texting, prayer, phone conversations, shared memories, gifts, in-person visits, and resources to encourage each other’s faith are the ways that have powerfully worked for Deb and me.
Looking at the various ways above, I realize that it definitely takes effort to maintain a long-distance friendship. Is it worth it? Deb and I would wholeheartedly say, “Absolutely!” And one day, as believers in Jesus, we will no longer be separated by miles or states. Instead, we will be reunited in heaven. I am forever thankful that we didn’t allow a long-distance move to steal our friendship here on earth. What a beautiful gift from God! A gift Deb and I never take for granted.