There’s a meme that often pops up on my Facebook feed that says “Adult friendship is two people saying “I haven’t seen you in forever, we should really meet up more” over and over again until one of you dies”. This meme resonates with me. Every time I see it a little part of me nods in agreement. The older I get, I’ve found it harder and harder to put time into friendships. In the busyness of life, family and work, often friendships are put in the too hard basket.
There’s often another feeling I get when I see this meme - defiance. You see, I don’t want to live like this. Great friendships and strong communities are too important to put in the too hard basket. When you’re younger your friendships just seem to happen. You are friends with the people in your class at school or your teammates. All my 3yo son needs to become a friends with someone, is to see them wearing a superhero shirt! In my early 20’s it seemed there was always someone to spend time with. But somewhere along the way I got busier, and the busier I got the less I saw my friends, and I very rarely made new friends.
I’ve found so much joy in having great community around me, that I’m not content to go through this next part of life without making time to spend with friends - both old and new. Living life without relationships is a counterfeit version of what Jesus imagined for us. So I’m asking myself some questions, so that I can prioritise the relationships around me.
Am I being intentional about making time for people in my day?
Early in life so much of my community was built unintentionally. Most of my friends came from school, teams I was a part of, or Church. I would see them almost every day because we were all doing the same thing together.
Now my life is more complex, more is asked of me each day and my responsibilities are much greater. If I’m not intentional about spending time with friends - it doesn’t happen!
Being intentional means I actually plan my time out - so I have time for people. I have to decide what and who my priorities are. It can be easy to plan so much activity into a week that leaves no time left for relationships.
Who are two people I can share a meal with each week?
There’s always richness in sitting across the table from someone for food and conversation. I find this is often where community is built. I want to make sure I’m doing this at least twice a week. It might be coffee with someone, inviting another family over for BBQ, squeezing morning tea in with someone while the kids play in the backyard. It’s easy to think I’m too busy to catch up with people, but we’ve all got to eat sometimes, so why not eat together!
Am I following through on the commitments I make to people?
I have 2 kids under 3, and I can count the amount of full nights of sleep I’ve had in the last 3 years on 2 hands. If I have plans for anything after 7.30pm, there is usually a moment where I ask myself “is this worth it?” Busyness is real, tiredness is real (!!!!!!!), but it shouldn’t excuse me from following through on the commitments I make to people. If I want to be part of a great community with good friends I need to be consistent, trustworthy and a man of my word. I will do what I say I’m going to do as much as it depends on me. This means I have to be realistic with my time and be wise about what I say “yes” and “no” to.
Am I smiling at people?
My wife Bethany thinks everyone she meets could be her new best friend and I think she’s crazy. I’m an introvert and I don’t like new situations or small talk. I have pretty good resting grumpy face and I know how to use well. If I want to avoid people, all I have to do is look grumpy and it’s pretty good at scaring people off. There was a time in life where I thought I had enough friends and I didn’t need anymore. But lately I’m realising that people are awesome, and I’m depriving myself of the joy of getting to know them if I’m always trying to scare people off. So I’m trying to look people in the eye and smile more often. You wouldn’t believe the conversations I’m starting to have with people in the last few months. I’m better for getting to know new people and hopefully they’re better for knowing me.
Maybe you find yourself in similar situation as me. Are you not content to miss out on the relationships and the community around you because of the busyness of life? Are you ready to start making time for people? Ready to live life like Jesus intended, and not a counterfeit copy? Perhaps you could ask yourself the same questions I am. It’s been great for me.