Did you read Tuesday night’s post about How to Find Good Friends? If you missed it, be sure to read it and check out all the amazing comments on it. I learn so much and am so inspired by you all!
One question that people have asked me over and over again after reading that post is: How do you find time to be a friend?
The bottom line is this: I make time because it’s important.
I’m a much healthier, whole, balanced, and cheerful person when I take time to invest in friends. So I make it a priority.
Now, here’s the thing: you can run yourself ragged with social engagements and opportunities and saying “yes” to everyone and everything. That’s not what I’m advocating.
What I am encouraging is that you be intentional to develop a few good, deep, authentic relationships. These will take time and effort, but they will be so very worth it! In fact, I find that — even though I’m more of an introvert — I’m refreshed and encouraged by making friendship a priority.
We need to know that we’re not in this alone. Spending time with others who “get us” and can encourage and build us up will do wonders for our energy levels and motivation.
We need friends who will lift us up when we are down. Who will laugh with us, listen to us, pray with us, and cry with us. And it’s not only life-giving to have friends to do this for us, it’s also such a blessing to be able to do be this kind of friend for others, too!
One thing I did last year was to make a list of what I call my “inner circle” — these are people who incredibly life-giving, truth-telling, and who have gone the distance with me, people who clearly love me for exactly I am and are very committed to our friendship.
I have a lot of friends that I love to hang out with occasionally, but I only have capacity to “go deep” with small number of people. So writing down names on my Inner Circle list really helped me in being intentional in friendships and to solidify in my mind the people that I was committing to be ALL IN with.
By this, I mean people who I will drop everything for, people who I will go out of my way to spend time with, people who I try to spend time with in some way, shape, or form on a weekly basis if at all possible, people I will make every effort to make time to connect with… even if it means business stuff or laundry (or even sleep!) suffers as a result.
This might seem like it would take a lot of time and work — and it does! But here’s the thing: I’ve found that I have so much more energy and zest for life when I make time to connect with people at a deep level at least a few times per week.
This, in turn, fuels my encouragement and my productivity. Time with friends is worth the effort because it keeps me from feeling drained, tired, and discouraged! It’s kind of like a miracle drug, of sorts. On those days when I’m feeling down, calling a friend or spending an hour with a friend can give me just the boost I need to get back up and get going again.
Practical & Simple Ways to Foster Friendship
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, but 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. This doesn’t take a lot of time, but can mean a lot. Truthfully, I often do this while I’m on the treadmill or waiting in line. I figure I might as well use that time productively to bless someone else!
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.
Just a few days ago, a friend who lives in my neighborhood texted me to say she was headed to get some coffee and she wondered if she could bring me a coffee, too. I was actually headed to a nearby coffee shop to work for a few hours so I asked her if she wanted to bring her laptop and hang out and work with me. We both were about to get work done and we also got in some great conversation, too!
Write a Quick Email — I often will shoot a quick email to someone to just let them know they are on my 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. 🙂 This can make the time fly, creates fun memories, and will probably mean the project gets done more efficiently.
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.
Engage on Social Media — Okay, so I know that many people feel like there’s no depth on social media, but I disagree. I love to keep up with my close friends on social media — leaving comments and encouragement and letting them know I care about what goes on in their life. Plus, I’ve found that it’s a great way to be able to have a starting point for conversations when I see them in person — because I have a little peek into what has gone on in their life recently through their posts on social media.
Send a Handwritten Note — The opposite of social media, handwritten notes are almost a lost art. I encourage you to take a little time to write a handwritten note. 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.
Really Listen — When you are with your friend, take time to really listen to them — 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 “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.
Express Appreciation — 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.
What advice and suggestions do you have for finding time to be a friend? What are your favorite simple ways to foster friendship?