It’s Thanksgiving week and I’m feeling thankful! This week I’ll be sharing posts highlighting some of the things I’m most thankful for, with a helpful spin!
First up, friendship!
I have been the fortunate recipient of some amazing friendships during the different seasons of my life. From starting out my life on my own in college to the present season of being a homeschooling momma and a pastor’s wife, God has provided me with friends who have not only helped me be a better person, but have also helped me through all those seasons of life.
These are the friends who shared the gospel with me and showed me what it looked like to really walk with the Lord.
The friends who endured living with me in all my messy, unorganized glory, and still love me to this day.
The friends that walked with me through heartbreak and through the days after meeting “the one.”
The friends who prayed for Blake and I as we started our life together and those that exemplified God-honoring marriages.
The friends who served and helped, listened and prayed as we figured out life as new parents, and gave tremendous grace as sins were confessed stemming from the lack of sleep!
The friends who point to Jesus and truth in midst of marriage, parenting, and life struggles instead of letting me sit and merely complain.
The friends who know the real me and love me in spite of my flaws.
I know without a doubt I am who I am today because of the friends God has blessed me with through my years.
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
But seasons change and friendships and their dynamics change…
You graduate from college. You get married. You start working. You have kids. You move. You start homeschooling. Life gets busier and more challenging, and the list of changes and new seasons grows and grows. And time marches on.
I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately and I’ve come up with a few ways that have help me be a good friend, in spite of my busy schedule, and some ways that I want to implement being a better friend to those dear to me. From technology to attitudes, here are some helps for cultivating friendships, both those far away and close by, even in the busy seasons of life.
Technology That Helps Me Cultivate Friendships:
1. Voxer – Oh, I love Voxer so much! So.much! It’s like a group text message, but with your voice! Here’s why I love it. I am a busy mom. Homeschooling, keeping up after 3 kids, taking care of our home, and the other responsibilities I have make phone calls a challenging thing. The kids interrupt, exhaustion hits at the time of day when I could actually make a phone call, and as much as I would love to have a super long chat, it’s just not the season of life where I can consistently be on the phone for long stretches of time. Voxer to me is easier than texting, takes less time to send a message, and then I get to hear my friends’ glorious voices! It’s like we are talking on the phone without actually talking on the phone. You send a message, others reply when they can, and you have this great conversation going on that fits into your schedule. It’s so great and has made keeping up with my long distance best friends wonderful. You can have a group conversation going or a one on one conversation. It’s great, trust me! Go download Voxer from the app store today!
2. Group Messages and Text Messages – I have a dear group of friends who message each other frequently in a group Instagram message. We have shared everything from prayer requests, stories of our kids, and hilarious pictures we find on Instagram. Though most of us are far from one another, this little conversation helps keep us close in heart and in the know about one another’s lives. Sure it’s different, and being in person with them would be glorious, but that’s not where we are right now. So, utilizing this small avenue has been a help and a blessing for sure! Text messages, Facebook group messaging, and Instagram messaging have all helped me keep up with friends, both near and far.
3. Social Media Connecting – Odds are you are on some sort of social media, and most likely some of your long distance friends are too. I mean, keeping up with old friends is one of the BEST things about Facebook, right?!? One of the easiest ways to love and support my friends is liking, commenting, and sharing their posts. I have several friends who own businesses (direct sales, photography, blogs, etc), and supporting them by giving them some love on their posts is an easy way to show I am interested in what they are doing, love them, and want to support them even if they live far away from me now.
Even if friends don’t have businesses they are trying to promote via social media platforms, you can still be a good friend by interacting with them. Comment on how big their kids have gotten. Send a private message to encourage them. Take a moment to pray for them when they post about things that are happening in their lives, and let them know that you did in a message. Don’t merely use social media as a way to know what’s going on, but seek to use it in a way as to be intentional with those friends who are dear to you.
We have a gift in this digital age of much easier communicating, and though social media isn’t always the best way foster deep relationships, it can be a useful tool during busy seasons of life. Use it intentionally. Use it with purpose. Use it to connect and love others.
4. Good ol’fashioned phone calls – I’ve already mentioned that during the busy seasons having long phone conversations aren’t always possible. But, it isn’t completely impossible to make them happen! Make quick calls while out on errands. Utilize long car rides to call and connect with friends. Instead of floating by during these common events, utilize them (if possible) to be intentional.
We need to break away from the thoughts that can keep us from picking up the phone and calling, like the fear that we will be interrupting our friends or that they will be too busy to talk. If they are too busy or have something going on they don’t have to answer! I’ve called a friend and had her answer just to tell me that she couldn’t talk in that moment. No big deal! Also, don’t fall into thinking that good phone calls have to be hours long. It’s not true! Quick calls to catch up are wonderful and they don’t have to take too long. Don’t allow your assumptions to keep you from reaching out and connecting.
Finally, here are a few non-techy ways to be a good friend during busy seasons:
Other Ways That Help Cultivate Friendships:
5. Pray For Them – Even though you may not know all the ins and outs of what’s going in their lives, praying for your friends in general and specific ways is a great way to keep you connected. I’ll often pray for God to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit more and more in my friends’ lives. It’s a sweet practice that helps me think of them and support them spiritually when I can’t be there with them to have good, deep, spiritual conversations.
And, the busiest of moms can take a few minutes while doing dishes, laundry, or showering to lift up her friends in prayer!
6. Praise God for Them – In my own personal prayers, I often thank God for the friendships I have been blessed with, both past and present. Recognizing friends as the undeserved gift that they are, and praising God, the giver of those gifts, has helped me cultivate a heart of thankfulness for those in my life.
7. Plan a Reunion Getaway – Obviously, this one is a little more tricky and challenging during super busy seasons of life, but with a little planning it can definitely be done. And oh, what a blessing it is! I’ve had beach getaways with friends, mountain getaways, and reunions in my home as well as friend’s homes (with lots of kids all over the place!). Taking time to enjoy the beauty and gift of friendship with those friends is so wonderful. Think of it as a little respite for your soul! A time to breathe in the sweet gift.
8. Relinquish the Expectations You Have for Your Friendships – This one is the kicker for me. The hardest in the bunch by far. I want text messages, and voxer messages, and Facebook acknowledgements, and phone calls, and getaways. I have this ideal of what I think my friendships should look like, both long-distance and nearby friends. But, if I hold my expectations and ideals tighter than my friends themselves, I am surely to be disappointed. And I have found disappointment to be the fertile ground just right for growing bitterness and resentment, two things not compatible with friendship.
So let it go. Let go of the expectations.
Give grace to the friend who is newly married and trying to learn how to be a friend and wife. Give grace to the friend who has a new baby at home and is adjusting to the new life before her. Give grace to the friend who is pursuing a new venture that takes lots of time to get off the ground. But communicate and still pursue them, though it may look different than it did before.
What once was hours of conversations over Ghiradelli brownies in your college apartment may now be the quick Voxer messages while you’re nursing the newborn or taking a quick break from the homeschool day.
Where having deep, spiritual conversations and fighting sin in each other’s lives was once the norm, now being ok with the quick text message to follow up on a prayer request or catching up on life has to be sufficient.
Where playdates and dinners were regular practices, now quick phone calls while running errands is the best way to connect.
No matter the circumstances surrounding the season of life, be the friend your friends need in the season they are in, and that always includes releasing them from firm expectations.
Friendships can be tricky to navigate during busy seasons of life, but maybe these few suggestions will help you be a better friend to those near and far from you. Just as entrusting our lives to our good, good Father is important, so is entrusting the dynamics of our friendships. We can trust Him because we know He loves us.
For me, life is busy with homeschooling and all the other responsibilities I have, and though one day things will be different, I don’t want to wait until then to pursue and cultivate friendships. They are too important for me to put on the shelf until life slows down. Even though this season doesn’t lend itself to all the ways I wish I could connect with friends, it is still absolutely possible to connect and pursue them. It’s just a matter of being flexible and figuring out a new way of doing things, and seeking to be the kind of friend I want to have.
So pray for your friends, thank God for them, and pursue them however you can. They are a gift worth your time and effort. ❤
What ways have you found to help cultivate friendships during busy seasons of life? What would you add to this list? Share with us in the comments!