On LDRs, Part Two

Last year, I wrote what I had learned so far about being in a long-distance relationship. In honor of those people embarking on this adventure we in the industry call Hell, I admit that I am not the person to ask.

I wish I could feign even for a moment that a long-distance relationship is easy and for everyone. It isn't easy and it certainly isn't for everyone. I'm not convinced it's for anyone, truth be told.

It certainly isn't for me. No, nothing's wrong, we're not breaking up, I just really hate it. I need a hand to hold and shoulders around which to put my arms. A small cellphone is not a worthy replacement.

It simply isn't natural. It doesn't feel like we've been dating a year. It feels more like a couple of months, due in large part to the distance and the limited amounts of time we've spent with each other. We learn something new about each other every visit. Sometimes those things are fun and good. Sometimes they suck. Worse yet, you learn new things about yourself, and they always suck. The new things I learn about Alisa are usually her likes and dislikes. The things I learn about myself are usually what an enormous bastard I am. Now, on any given day, I'd much rather find out that she really likes artichokes or dislikes handling raw chicken than to find out that I'm a sinner exploring dizzying new depths of my own depravity.

The advantage to this is that it confirms what I have always believed: that in order to fully understand grace, you have to fully understand the depths to which your brokenness descends. It's the law of contrasts. I only understand the grace my girlfriend gives me because I understand what a jerk I can be. To clarify, she has never made me feel like I am a jerk; I just do something and realize it later. God's grace works the same way. To call ourselves sinners saved by grace doesn't mean we live out the fallen nature from which we've been saved. It means that in order to most fully live by the grace of God, we have to acknowledge the depths from which He plucked us. In order to fully understand life, we have to understand death. Light is brighter when you know what dark looks like.

Receiving grace this way makes giving it a little easier to swallow. Grace can't come from you. You're fallible and incapable of something as selfless as unconditional grace. But when you receive it from God, and I mean really receive it, you hold it in your heart until such a time arises that you pour it back out on someone else. If you find yourself without the grace to give away, it's because you don't know how to receive it in the first place. Do you think God's grace is in limited supply and you're out simply because He's out? Certainly not. You're out because you dammed up the conduit.

While important in everyday life, this is essential in a relationship. You're going to screw up. You're going to be moody and frustrated and a pain in the ass. So is the person you're with. Sometimes grace means talking things out. Sometimes it means shutting up for now. Sometimes it means showing someone how to most effectively provide for you emotionally, and sometimes it means being selfless and ignoring your own needs. The trick is to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.

So, spend whatever time you need storing up that grace inside yourself, because sooner than you expect, it will come time to pour it out. Be continuously filled, while continuously emptying yourself of it, and your relationship will thrive according to God's will.

Oh, and get a good cellphone plan.



Uncle Jason Reviews Everything, Part II

I had the unbelievable pleasure of seeing Batman Begins last night, and let me tell you, this movie makes the others seem like failed middle school science experiments. I already thought Joel Schumacher was a blight on the movie industry, and this movie only proves that the subject material was there, and in the previous incarnations, it was the screenwriters' and directors' faults. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say anything else, except that you should cancel your plans tonight and go see this movie.

The A-Train and I went to Steak Street for our anniversary (It's been a YEAR? Holy crap! More to come on that later.). I can't recommend a restaurant that charges twenty dollars for a burned piece of dry chicken and still consider myself a Christian. I wish someone had warned me in advance. No wonder the one by Village Tavern closed. I'm serious, people, avoid this place at all costs. I had considered writing the company to complain, but realized that, at most, they would only offer me a free meal at their restaurant. I wish restaurants would give you a free meal at the restaurant of your choice, since it's obvious their food sucked. Free vouchers wouldn't even make it worth the ten minute drive, so you know it wasn't worth the serious bank I plunked down the other night. Alisa enjoyed her ribs, and that's the only thing making it worth it right now.

After dinner we saw Das Barbecu at Triad Stage. Overall, I liked it. We got cheap tickets because it was preview night, which is sort of like a dress rehearsal, but with an audience.To the actors' credit, they never had to stop the play, and everything went well, save for a couple of costume issues. The only problem I did have is that the action was choreographed as if on a normal stage, with the actors facing the "fourth wall", the direction where the audience sits. Triad Stage is not a normal theatre, however. The "stage" is actually on the floor, and the audience sits stadium-seating on three sides, meaning that roughly sixty people get to use their imagination as they look at the backs of the performers during the musical numbers. This wasn't true for the whole play, but for enough of it that I would have been very disappointed had I payed full price for a ticket on opening night. All in all, though, it was a great alternative to the typical movie date.

In case you weren't already aware, I have a MySpace now. This is the one place where quantity of friends outweighs quality, so everyone sign up, because well, I apparently need more friends. It's like drugs, really. Blogger and MySpace are the gateways, next would be a LiveJournal with blogrings galore, and finally I'd OD on Everquest and Online Texas Hold 'Em and they'd find my body hooked up to a Taco Bell Nacho Cheese IV drip. It would be wonderful. So, um, yeah, add me to your list on MySpace, if you have it. If not, enjoy your social life so the rest of us can live vicariously through you.

Finally, go say hi to Shua. His blog redesign is where it's at. Ending your sentences with prepositions is where it's at, too.

Hopefully I'll be able to blog again later today with my thoughts on being in this relationship for its first year. Stay tuned.