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Absence Is to Love What Wind Is to Fire

May  23rd,  2020
Erick M.
By Erick M. read
Posted in Culture

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.” | Roger de Bussy-Rabutin

The plans were set, my time off was approved, and my plane ticket was purchased; it was early-February 2020. March eventually rolled around and the event on my calendar crept closer. I was just weeks away from flying home to see my girlfriend and my family.  

Like so many people around the world, however, I was faced with a decision that resulted in the cancelation of my trip. When it came down to my health and the health of my loved ones, I just couldn’t take the risk. So the dates of my long awaited reunion eventually came and went and I was left trying to process it all.

Despite my desire to see them, I knew prioritizing our wellbeing was ultimately the best decision. That truth, however, didn’t lessen the ache I felt after months of waiting and planning had suddenly been wiped off the table. So, in that moment, I did what many of us would and should do; I took it to prayer.

Although I still have much to reflect on, I would like to share some of the graces I’ve received during this time. In doing so, I hope you can step away from this with some consolation of your own. This goes especially for those who may find themselves in a similar situation to my own.

Longing Is Not a Sign of Weakness

Early on, I struggled with allowing myself to process emotions. Every “we miss you” text felt like a punch in the chest, but I would just brush it off and put on a strong face for the sake of the people that I love. These two things, expressing longing and being strong, just couldn’t coexist in my mind.

Then, in a moment of vulnerability with my team, God reminded me of the truth; these things are not at odds, they actually compliment one another. You see, strength without vulnerability is just a proud facade. To truly be the man my loved ones need during this time, I had to find the middle ground; vulnerable, but not despairing and resilient because of hope, not because my pride doesn’t want them to see me hurting.

Love is Perfected in the Longing

I recognized early on that taking these emotions to God was a necessity; however, prayer itself was often difficult. In what I now recognize as selfishness and impatience, I found myself asking Him why He would allow something like this to happen. It was then that I was reminded of something I’ve been reflecting on for well over a year now.

At my first training with The Culture Project, one of our guest instructors spoke of this idea that love is perfected in the waiting. This essentially refers to the way that God uses times of singleness, of distance, or of difficulty to rid us of vice and strengthen us in authentic, sacrificial love. This process begins with an examination of the “why” behind our longing.

The truth is, we can long to see others for the wrong reasons. A major issue in our culture today, for example, is using someone for our own gratification out of lust, loneliness, or boredom. Although the waiting is a struggle at times, we have to recognize that His plan to help us grow in virtue is far greater than our own; despite our inability to fully comprehend it at this moment.

I’m sure that these reflections are only scratching the surface, but I think it’s a good place to start. I pray that, at the very least, this can serve as a reminder that you are not alone. To some extent, we all long for the day that we can hug our friends or visit our loved ones again. 

Just think about how beautiful it is to have people in our lives that we love to the point where their absence is felt so deeply. We can let this time pass us by or we can use moments like these to grow for the sake of those people. So let us choose love and allow this situation to forge us into the people that they need and God is calling us to be.

Erick M.
Erick M.

About the Author

Erick graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2018 with a BA in Media & Cultural Studies. He was born and raised in Southern California and enjoys all forms of creative expression. Erick first encountered TCP while researching the TOB for a ministry talk. Soon after, he fell in love with the teaching of TOB and it changed his life! As his journey unfolded, he felt God calling him to mission and was soon presented an opportunity to both serve and educate himself further about one of his passions through TCP. "Knowledge of the Theology of the Body is a beautiful gift that God gave me when I needed it most. As a missionary, I hope to share this gift and the joy that it has brought me to those who may be experiencing what I went through."

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