This week we will be discussing the question, “How do you maintain friendships without neglecting your other responsibilities?”
This has not honestly been a topic that I have given a lot of intentional thought to. At this stage of life, I think I have sort of let the chips fall as they will. Immediate family relationships come first and then friendships fit in around them. Somehow, I have managed to see my friends on a semi-regular basis. Having small children has forced me to have a more narrow group of consistent friendships than I had before. I still have lots of people I consider friends, but very few are “every week” sort of friends. For that matter, even my closest buddies are not “every week” buddies anymore. Here are a fews ways I maintain friendships:
-Make sure to celebrate!- One way I keep up with friends is to make special occasions a priority. Who cares if it’s the second little baby girl in a family and there is ‘no need’ for a shower? We have a party anyway! It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is precious to celebrate life’s special moments with friends and it provides an opportunity to catch up. In addition to this, I have some friends I always celebrate birthdays with. This usually only happens with a few friends in my life, but it insures that I have non-kid time with those friends at least a few times a year.
-Friendships change with time aka. I can’t be committed to everyone deeply all at the same time- As I mentioned before, my group of consistent friends is smaller than ever before. Less free time has meant less deep friendships. I am super social and there are many people I would love to see more often, but I purposely hold myself back from planning dates with all the people I’d like to hang out with. I have to make myself FOCUS on the friendships I feel God wants me to pour more deeply into. With that said, I do look out for newcomers. I know how hard it is to be new and not know anyone. When I moved here, I mostly only knew Gretchen. She let me come to her house every day for awhile because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. That was such a blessing to me and I try to make it a point to welcome newcomers who cross my path in the same way. This can be time-intensive (in a totally positive way) for awhile. Eventually newcomers make other friends, too, and I don’t see them as much. This is okay with me and this ebb and flow idea is how I approach most friendships in my life.
-Do it when you can and do it right away- This is something I find helpful for keeping up with the people I love but don’t see or talk to often. If there is a person on my heart I haven’t been in contact with, I just write a quick note or email. I try not to put it off until I have time to write something long because then it never happens. It doesn’t have to be a full update to be meaningful. Just a note that says, “This reminded me of you….” or “I was laughing about the time when we….” tends to really encourage people.