Thursday, May 10, 2012

Scheduling Friendship

In my quest to develop grown-up friendships, I’ve been surprised at how hard it can be to get to know people. My own emotional issues aside, making friends as an adult married woman with children is not like it was when I was younger. In high school and college, I could call someone I wanted to get to know better and say, “Hey do you want go mall or see a movie or something?” and we could make plans for later that day, or at the most, the weekend. Now, if I try to do that, the conversation goes something like this:

Me: ”Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. We should get together. Do you want to do something?”

Friend: “Well, Johnny has soccer tonight and a game on Saturday morning. Jane has ballet tomorrow night and girl scouts on Thursday. Friday is date night with hubby. Saturday night I have a work dinner I have to be at. Hmm. Next week isn’t much better. I, think I can schedule something for next month, if you want, though.”

Me: “Uh…Ok. Let’s do that. Let me know when you can squeeze me in.”

I then hang up feeling dejected, because really, I just wanted to spend some time with a friend chatting and laughing, right now. Not next weekend or next month.

I tried that a few times before I realized that during this season of my life, spontaneous friend dates aren’t going to happen very often. I can’t really get too mad about it, because my schedule is just as busy. The problem is that, generally speaking, when I am free, they are busy and when they are free, I’m busy. Eventually I had to accept the fact that I was going to have schedule time to make friends.

Maybe it’s strange, but this was a really hard thing for me wrap my mind around. I’m not a “schedule” person. I’m not a planner, either, unless I have to be. I have a friend, though, who is a planner, and she was the first one to say, “Let’s put something on the calendar, because otherwise I will never have time for it.”

The first time I heard her say that, it rubbed me the wrong way, because I believed that building a relationship should just happen naturally. Being put into her schedule felt sort of confining to me. Kind of like, “OK, I have a hour block from 2:00 to 3:00 on Sunday, so let’s have a meeting and get to know each other. Bring your bullet point notes of all the important events in your life so we don’t miss anything or get off topic. Be prompt, because I have a 3:15 appointment with my hairstylist and I can’t be late.”

Now, she didn’t say any of this, or imply it even. It’s what I read into her suggestion. What I later came to understand, though, is that in our frantic, 21st century lives, our schedules will fill up whether we want them to or not. Either we have to take control of them and put the things that are important to us on the calendar, or other people and things will find a way to fill all our time slots. When I realized that she was putting time with me on her calendar because she valued it and wanted to make sure it would happen, it changed my entire perspective.

This also made me realize that I had to begin to be deliberate about developing my relationships. I couldn’t just expect them to happen. I had to put effort into them. I had to put some planning into them. I had to make it a priority and maybe sacrifice something for it. I had to give up an occasional evening of my favorite t.v. shows because that is when my friend had some free time. I had to give up my preconceived notions about what my friendships would look like.

So, now I put my friends in my schedule, and they put me in their schedule. It has to be a mutual scheduling effort. Otherwise, it will never happen.

I hope that someday life will slow down in such a way that my friends and I will have the freedom to take a spontaneous trip to the beach just because we feel like drinking a cup of coffee and watching the sun set over the ocean. For now, though, I’m honored when a lady that I admire values me enough to schedule me into her day.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice.

  Proverbs 27:9

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