Friends are a huge blessing in our lives but when we are joined to our best friend (in marriage) and as we begin to have little friends (kids) we have less and less time for our women friends.
I loved the chapter in Shopping For Time that described how to evaluate your friendships Biblically. I recently sat down with my binder and made a list of the friends that I want to really invest in. I love ALL of my friends and want to be an encouragement to as many as I can, but realistically can't give equal time to all of them.
I had four categories, which I got from the Shopping for Time:
Friends Who Sharpen Me
Friends Who Need Friends
Friends Who Need Christ
As I made my lists it was a fresh reminder to me of where I should be with friends. Most of my friends fit into one of the above categories. If they didn't fit in the above, it helped me to realize that it's okay to let go of those friendships and neglect them more.
*Note* The book distinguishes between family and friends so any extended family would fit in a different category that would be priority over other friends. So, for those of you who were thinking you now had a good excuse to disown your brother or mother-in-law or goofy Uncle, sorry!
Things I'm learning to do to try to keep friendships in balance:
Planning for "girl time" regularly in advance so that I'm not getting too much or too little
Phone dates set up for specific times where I can talk with a friend once the kids are in bed or when my hubby is at Youth Group.
Using Caller ID and being selective about calls. As a mom, I'm "on the job" and have too much to do to spend lots of time on the phone.
Using facebook to take care of playdate details, church event questions, babysitting requests, etc. Facebook can be a time-waster if you allow it to suck you in. However, for those of us who are not "conversationally challenged" we have a very difficult time just making a quick, abrupt phone call. We have to greet the person, ask about their life, and the next thing you know a life story is coming out. Those of us enjoy talking and counseling others can find that a simple phone call about a church event becomes an hour long talk. So, facebook is WONDERFUL for quickly connecting with someone and leaving a very brief message asking a question, etc. Even with e-mails, I have a hard time being abrupt so facebook works even better for me than e-mails because the whole point is to be brief!
Not pursuing friends who make life harder. While I do want to reach out to people with God's love, even difficult people, there may be friends who drain the life out of me whom I need to step back from. They may be obsessed with cats, I may hate cats! They may have a kid who punches my kid at every playdate or they may not like being around my kid. They may hound me to get involved in things that I have no time for or may have such different standards than me that we can't understand one another. Unless God leads otherwise, I think it's okay to step back and focus on other friends in this case.
Routine Playdates. Instead of calling up friends all the time to plan playdates (or having to e-mail all the time) my mom friends and I decided at the beginning of the summer that we would make Wednesday morning Park Day and Friday afternoons Pool Day, with different moms hosting the pool parties. Due to varying schedules we've changed this on and off due to weather or other things but it's nice to have a schedule to follow so we all know when we can expect to meet together for some fun. Recently, I decided with other things we were doing that I would stop going to the Park Day for now, with the thought that come mid-August we'll probably add that in again if life allows.
Learning to say "no." I wrote yesterday about selecting what you will neglect. It's hard to say no to something fun with a friend but I must at times because of the amount of friends that God has blessed me with. Someday I will enjoy more time with women friends but my current life season doesn't allow for very much!
I shared a while back how God has weeded out "friendship idols" in my life and has taught me to find my sufficiency in His love. So, one of the biggest ways that I can keep friendships in balance it to pursue my Greatest Friend and be satisfied in Him so I'm not looking to people to meet my needs for affirmation, love, and purpose. If others are trying to meet their needs through me, I can continually point them to the Savior and not allow myself to be weighted down with trying to be everything for them.