Friday, 15 April 2016

"Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" - Is it possible today?

It just so happens that both my husband and I are involved in ministry/work that means we get the privilege of travelling a lot. Nowadays even when you are apart distance wise it doesn't mean anything because the internet allows you to literally talk everyday no matter where you are.  The young people I know who go away from home to “find themselves” or “have an adventure”, speak to family or boyfriends/girlfriends everyday and I often wonder if the saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is even possible today?

When I was 16 and travelled with my family to Europe, I left my then boyfriend (now husband) at home and couldn't connect with him for many weeks at a time. I remember being stressed about it at times and feared that he had found someone else while I was away. I wrote about him in my journal and missed him a lot and when we did talk I think the first thing I said to him was “Do you still love me?” How insecure. But these conversations were really special and the reunion was awesome. I think the distance and space helped my “heart to grow fonder”, to appreciate him and value our relationship. 

I wonder is that kind of “space” even possible today. If some time away from someone you love, means that you lose them because they begin looking elsewhere, maybe you never had them in the first place. There is no doubt that “absence” can “make” or “break” relationships, but better earlier than later, I say. Likely it would have happened at some point.
“Absence” can show up the “weakness” and/or “strengths” in a relationship. 

In fact I have friends who I might see or speak to once a year, and when we get together we just pick where we left off ... and “my heart grows very fond for them”. To me that is “true” friendship and the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is very real in this instance. I am often amazed at young people today who spend all day with their friends at school and then talk all night on “snapchat” and never really have the space away from each other. I wonder whether this indicates “strong” or “weak” friendships?

The travel Dave and I do nowadays means we are often apart and in places where there is no reception to talk over the internet. So there are weeks when we don’t get to chat. People often ask “oh, you must be struggling with Dave being away!” I often feel guilty that I am not struggling and maybe that sounds harsh and unloving.  I do know that I love it when we are together and I love it when we are doing whatever ministry we are doing and I can’t wait to get back to tell my “life partner” all about it. So, I choose to be happy wherever I am. But I also think it runs deeper for me and maybe it is part of the joy and security in being committed in this relationship for over 30 years. But when we are apart, there is something special about the saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” that is very true for me. That is, that a little space helps you realise the special relationships you have, and this can only be understood in the “space” apart. If you never have that space, I wonder if you don’t appreciate, learn to trust and value the relationship as deeply!

I find with the internet ...with “skype”, “facetime”, “whatsapp”, snapchat, etc, there is very little “space” today. I wonder if the fear of not being in contact with someone COULD actually feeds into negative thoughts like our lack of trust, our fear of not being loved and valued, to the thoughts rejection or betrayal, our own lack of self worth, or our own fear of being alone. 

I wonder if in the “space” we could turn off all communication. Could we be happy to be on our own, with our own thoughts and stories, or even more scary, happy to be with just God in the “space”?

This “space” has become a great place for me. A “space” where I can not only enjoy my time with God, my time on my own, but also I find that when Dave and I re-enter into our “space” together, our hearts grow fonder because of the absence.


 “Absence” doesn’t have to mean going away for a long period of time. Some people simply need a night out with other friends, a Saturday morning to do their own thing, a little “space” apart. My husband loves to ride his motorbike. He gets up early in the morning and rides for 2 hours and when he returns he is in such a better space for us to be together. He allows me to do the things that give me the “space” I need as well. If we didn’t give each other that space I wonder if we would feel as strong in our relationship. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Why don’t you test and see?