With emails, texts, Instagram, and Facebook we feel as though we are up to date on what it going on in each other's lives, but are we really?
I was visiting with a friend the other day and we got on the topic of how disconnected we feel now that we are so connected. Our conversation centered around the idea that we rarely just pick up the phone and call anyone to chat like we did when we were younger. She said, and I agreed, that she felt like calling was invading someone's personal time and she did not want to impose on them. Now that our phones go with us everywhere, we hate to catch anyone at a bad moment, so we stop reaching out at all.
This was the predicament that I found myself in a few years ago. Whether you live around the corner or across the country, I rarely cross paths with most of my female friends that I love. Unless we share an activity, we are not going to naturally spend time growing deeper in our friendships.
You may have experienced this phenomenon when you changed jobs or your children changed schools. If you don't see friends on a regular basis, you quickly fall out of touch. While there are friendship that are good for a season, if all of your friendships drift away like this, you are in trouble.
Bob and I moved away from Houston the day after two of our closest friends married each other. At first, she and I talked quite a bit on phone (this was pre-email and Facebook). But, as time marched on, we only caught up with long phone calls about twice a year.
Fast forward twenty years. Ruth Ann and I were on one of our bi-annual phone calls, lamenting how much we missed each other. Her time was booked solid with a full time job and two children at home that did not yet drive, so it was hard to see how we were going to find a solution to our disconnection. As much as we wanted face to face time, neither of us had the flexibility to travel, so a girl's trip was out of the question.
The conversation then moved to sharing about our families. She told me about taking one of her children to a reading tutor every week for an hour. It was just far enough away that she could not go home and too early in the morning to get any good shopping done. The pocket of time seemed like a waste and it was frustrating her.
Then, a lightbulb went off in both of our heads-- we could use that time each week to visit. I was free during that block of time, so it seemed like God was giving each of us a gift. Most weeks for almost that entire school year we touched base. In that time, we were able to know each other better, trust each other more, and talk through some of the things that were bothering us. We were able to move beyond the perfect Facebook or Instagram images and reveal what was really moving our hearts. In those hours, we brainstormed solutions to our daily worries and dreamed of a future when we no longer had to drive carpool. We laughed over silly misadventures from the past like the time we picked up a tumbleweed in the desert and left it in the trunk of our rental car.
Those Appointed Conversations were a balm to my soul.
Meaningful friendships require that we invest the time in listening to each other. Sometimes, this looks like conversations that are pre-scheduled yet unscripted. We don't think twice about making an appointment with a doctor, how much better will your heart feel after a "phone appointment" with a friend?
I just read a great article on the value of friendships that supports what we already know, you can read it here.