Am I the only 30+ something who feels like their friendships have changed so completely, so quickly, so drastically, that you barely have time to keep up? Like you went to bed one night, woke the next morning, and the world changed while you slept? Ann Brashares, the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, wrote that the hardest thing about maintaining friendships is the loss of context. You go to the same high school, you are college roommates, you work together, you join the same Mommy-n-Toddler playgroup...but when that context is gone, your friendship wanes. You graduate and lose touch. You move away and lose touch. You get a new job and lose touch. Life moves on, and the context of your life is like the ocean, and most of your friendships come in waves.
I've wanted to blog about this for a long time, but something always kept me back. Maybe it's b/c my friends read this blog, so they just might read into what I'm writing and get some funky ideas about me, like the truth. :) Truth is I'm in a weird spot of life, when I've lost many friends, made many new friends, struggle to hold onto the old, while trying to deepen the new bonds...and I suck at it all. I feel completely unable to maintain intimate friendships w/ anyone, new or old, save a couple people I can't get away from if I wanted to. (HA! Kidding, Mel & Lisa!) I can't keep up w/ what's happening in the lives of my friends, what their kids are up to, how they are really doing mentally/spiritually, or sometimes where the heck they are living now. How is it in this age of being instantaneously in touch w/ everyone and everything all at once, I can feel so out of touch???
And then there's the guilt. I feel guilty when I run into people that I meant to call, friends that I have been meaning to reach out to, people I know it would be great to connect with, but I just don't do it. And I know the road to hell is paved w/ good intentions, but really, my intentions are good. I want to connect more, but I'm spent. Or rather my time is spent. I've intentionally answered my phone less, established a no-texting-or-answering-calls-during-dinner rule for our house, and just poured myself into more face-time w/ my kids, my Hubby, and other family and people I do regularly interact with where I feel God is leading me to invest. And then I cut out Facebook for the month of December. Not to be anti-social, but to just unplug a bit and refocus. (More about that experiement later...)
The end result? 1) Prayer. God alone can help me figure out my priorities and keep me on task. And 2) a big dose of reality. I love meeting new people and connecting w/ old friends; it's as much about encouraging others as it is about filling up my own feel-good tank. But I don't need to befriend every single lady in the Bible study or go thru the phonebook and reach out to everyone I know who might need a little encouragement every day of the week. God's not calling me to have such a ridiculous number of friends in my circle, that I am too stretched to really be a friend to anyone. (And I'm just not that important!) But God does arrange my paths, put people on my path for a reason, give me certain likes/dislikes that line up to other people and makes us "click", and He does want me to pursue those people in my path for His purpose.
All of that said and as lost as I feel some days, I am utterly grateful for the dear friends God has put in my life! I miss the days of staying up til 3 in the morning chatting w/ friends over coffee, writing long letters back-n-forth (before email--ha!), and talking on the phone every day. Remember when we had time for that--when we were 16? :) Almost 20 years later I'm still the girl who is energized by time w/ friends, even if not as often as I'd like. And the reality is, having one true friend is better than winning the lottery, and I have a handful of lifelong soulmates that have stayed w/ me thru all the rough waves of life, so I am rich indeed!
Lord, help me to be available to my friends as you lead. Help me to be open to new friendships. Help me to accept the ups-n-downs that sometimes come over the course of relationships. Help me to let go when it's time. Help me to hold on where appropriate. Above all, lead me to spend my time wisely, to invest in the lives all around me.