So many of us long for great relationships, but we can feel overwhelmed with life already. How can we make time for friendships in the midst of a busy life and a full schedule?
I believe that the two keys to strong community in our lives are commitment and consistency. We have to be committed to making friendship a priority and we have to be consistent about getting together with friends.
Good friendships won’t just happen; they takes work, effort, and time. If you want to develop authentic, deep relationships, you have to be willing to make this a priority.
In addition, they require consistent nurturing on a regular basis. Yes, you can have the occasional relationship that feels so strong even though you don’t communicate often, but in most cases, you need regular times together—either in person or via phone or text or Skype or email—to cultivate strong friendships.
While investing in deep and authentic friendships does take time, I’ve found it to be so worth the effort invested. When I make time to connect with people at a deep level at least a few times per week, I have so much more energy and zest for life. I feel encouraged, excited about life, and productive.
While there will be times when you’ll need to drop everything in order to be there for a friend who is going through a traumatic time, on a daily basis, maintaining great friendships doesn’t have to take hours and hours of time.
Here are some ideas of ways to foster friendship when you don’t have a lot of extra time:
Text Short Messages
I typically text at least 3-5 friends everyday to just let them know I’m thinking of them and praying for them. I often do this while I’m on the treadmill or waiting in line.
Invite Your Friend to Join You in Something You’re Already Doing
Headed to the park or the pool with your kids? Ask a friend or two to come join you. Your kids can get some great exercise and have fun while you have meaningful conversation.
Write a Quick Email
Shoot a quick email to someone to just let them know they are on your heart or to ask how they are doing. Or, if I’ve just spent time praying for them, I’ll let them know that I just prayed for them and what I specifically prayed. This can literally take two minutes to do, but can mean a lot.
Work on a Project Together
If you have a cleaning, organizing, or cooking project you’re working on, ask a friend to join you and help out. And then make sure to return the favor to them later.
Talk on the Phone While Cleaning
If you and a friend both have a cleaning project to work on, call each other up and chat while you work on your projects. This doesn’t work for all types of projects, but can work well if you’re scrubbing a bathroom, picking up, sorting, or other similar projects.
Send a Handwritten Note
Handwritten notes are almost a lost art. Whether a thank you note, a birthday note, or even just a “thinking of you” note, getting mail can brighten someone’s day and let them know how much you care.
When you are with your friend, take time to really listen to the—even if you only have a few minutes. Looking in their eyes, asking good questions, and focusing completely on them communicates so much and can really mean the world to someone.
Ask Good Questions
In addition to listening, take time to ask questions. Real questions. Not the “how are you and how’s the weather” kind of questions. But the kind of questions that cause people to be real and honest with where they are at.
For instance, just recently, I was with a friend and I asked how they were doing. When they responded with an okay, I looked at them and said, “You’re not doing well, are you? What’s going on?” This let them know that I really cared and really wanted to know how they were and gave them permission to share a hard struggle they were going through.
You can never be too thankful. Tell people often how much you appreciate them and specific ways you appreciate them. Don’t take anyone for granted. Don’t wait to tell someone how they’ve impacted your life. You might not have the opportunity if you don’t take it today.
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- Just like our ideas of “the perfect friend” can stop us from building a relationship with really great people, our ideas of “what a friendship looks like” can discourage us during busy seasons or when we move away from a friend. How can you cultivate a friendship with someone in your life in a unique way rather than letting your expectations for what a friendship should look like build a wall between you?
- What is your preferred method of communicating with your friends? When that doesn’t work, what other methods would you be interested in trying?
- Commit to reaching out to one friend each day this week, whether through a text, phone call, email or Facebook.