Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?
Updated: Aug 18, 2020
My ode to the tragedy of dating in a long distance relationship during Coronavirus. Sounds like star-crossed lovers to me.
Dating is hard. Long distance dating is hard. Christian dating is hard. Global pandemic dating is hard. Long distance, Christian dating in the middle of a global pandemic is hard. But why compare the phenomenon of pandemic long distance relationships (LDRs) to the aged, classic tragedy composed by the late, great playwright William Shakespeare?
In a very over exaggerated way, Ben and I are basically Romeo and Juliet. Ben is a Montague (aka a New Yorker) and I am a Capulet (aka a Floridian.) There is beef with Romeo and Juliet being together and they're from the wrong sides of town. Continual barriers construct themselves in their midst. Sounds similar to New York and Florida duking it out to console the swell of the spread in COVID-19, which I applaud them for. The correlation between the two may be simply too uncanny to ignore.
With nearly twenty four years of life under my belt, I can confirm I am nowhere near an expert on this subject, but in an effort to give thanks to the Lord in all things, to recount His goodness, and to put a name to the lessons I have learned these last five months, I lend you my thought inventory on this subject.
Boundaries. Trust. Boundaries. Trust.
There is nothing I would rather avoid chatting about than this point, so let's get this out of the way first. My sin is so evident when it comes to trusting and seeing the best in people. It's like there's a little trust printer in my brain that was jammed a while back and hasn't had proper maintenance. Insert one of those upside down, awkward smiley emojis here.
What I want to communicate clearly here is this: have boundaries for your emotional attachment and then trust the process and the person. When I am engrossed in Ben's life, especially while he is one thousand miles away, I am at my worst. I forget my identity is in Jesus and my purpose on earth to know God and make Him known. I'm washed away by being an obsessive girlfriend. Just being honest. Putting up emotional boundaries frees me up, by the Spirit, to walk in freedom, know my identity, not cling so tightly to the thirty minutes between a text back or Ben's current location. Emotional boundaries is a vigilant guarding of your heart against checking and overthinking.
But it's boundaries and trust. Without the trust part, I attempt to convince my heart that I do not care. Oh he hasn't texted back? I don't care! Oh he is with those friends? I don't care! While on the inside I'm like biting my nails, definitely freaking caring. Within reason, trust the person you're dating. Trust what they're telling you is the truth about where they are and who they're with. Don't turn in to a fire breathing dragon when your perception doesn't line up and you haven't had a chance to talk about it. The Bible is pretty clear about that too, seeing the best in people through love.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7
And if you continually can't trust your person? Pray and think about what you're doing and what direction you're going in. Having an LDR creates remarkable space to hash things out. My not-asked-for advice on this would be: don't stake your life on an unsound savior. Jesus is the only one who can satisfy the longing of your heart. Setting impossible expectations on a flawed human being will only lead to that relationship's demise, long distance or not. But don't stop at simply protecting your emotions. Go the extra mile to trust who you're dating. Assume the best. I'm preaching to my own heart. Romeo had his eyes on Rosaline before he knew that Juliet was the GOAT. What if Juliet asked Romeo every day if he still talked to Rosaline? Boundaries and trust, folks. Boundaries and trust.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Thankfully communication in 2020 doesn't involve professing vows below windows, as did the situation Romeo and Juliet found themselves in, even though that might be better at this point. It can also be said that communication is key for any relationship. But the relay of thoughts, feelings, and facts takes on a whole new meaning while miles and miles separate. I am grateful for the time and dedication Ben takes to affirm our relationship through meaningful communication. I'm thankful for kind texts, thought-through responses and care during disagreements, and planning visits. I'm thankful to end each day talking to my best friend. We don't do it perfectly, and I would argue no one does, but we continually try.
At church, my Pastor has often taught the comparative lesson of having a relationship with the Lord to pursuing a relationship with his wife. If my Pastor only approached his wife with wishes and asks, to largely ignore her otherwise, it wouldn't be much of a relationship at all. It would be transactional at best. At times we approach Christ like that. Here, God! Here is my list of wants! Thanks for waking me up today! You are so cool! Talk tomorrow! That would not be life giving. My friendship with God, my family, my friends, and my boyfriend, should not look like that.
Although I am not married, there is still an intentionality that should take place in communicating my heart with the people close to me, just like Romeo under Juliet's window. LDRs only bring the need for communicative efforts to life. My not-asked-for advice? FaceTime when you can. FaceTime when it makes sense for you both. Ask simple questions like "How do you feel?" and "Have you eaten today?" It really does make a world of difference.
Respect. Respect. Respect.
Lastly, Coronavirus has caused us all to have opinions on actions we wouldn't usually have strong opinions on. Travel or don't travel? Wear a mask if it's not mandated or continue to wear it? Hangout with friends or stay inside? Grocery delivery or brave the storm? Everything we once took for granted has been called in to question. And with a long distance relationship, that pretty much stinks. Traveling, hanging out with loved ones, attending in-person church services, going on dates, all of these things are commonly imperative actions that take place when on a LDR trip.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
It can be so easy these days to let your strong opinions get in the way of your serving of one another. If Ben doesn't feel comfortable traveling in a pandemic, I shouldn't strive to make him or be upset with his decision. If he does end up traveling to see me, I shouldn't harshly grieve the activities he desires to forgo and then hold it against him. And same for him when it comes to me. My not-asked-for last piece of advice is this: respect the decisions of your person. I've heard in marriage this is so vital. And although, again, I am not-yet-married, learning to respect others decisions is a good characteristic to obtain, even now.
There are so many twisted and concerning events that take place within Romeo and Juliet's story. I am ever so grateful that their tragedy isn't actually a picture of what dating in a long distance relationship is like. I am ever so thankful for the Lord's kindness in 2020, no matter how uncomfortable and unpredictable it has been. There is so much fruit to be harvested in the trial and so much to learn. God gives wisdom as we plead for it. Communicate the best you can. Place boundaries up and protect yourself from idolatry. Trust who you're with and respect their decisions. We'll get through this together.
“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” ― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet