Making friends is complete torture for me. Not because I don’t want friends, but because “making” them is really difficult. Getting past the whole acquaintance waiting period is painful. I’m a solid introvert. So naturally, when I make the effort to reach out only to be told, “sorry, but none of those dates work for us”. . . . it’s highly likely that I will never ask again.
When our daughter was a toddler, I needed friends so badly. I started attending a MOPS group because I heard great things about this place. I jumped in all ready to make friends. I attended every single play date that was set up in our group. And I was alone at every play date except one. No one would commit and those that did would cancel at the last minute. About halfway through the year, I dropped out of MOPS. The community I was so desperately searching for never developed while I watched other groups thrive and grow closer together. I felt so defeated after that.
I then created a Facebook group full of some ladies I knew but wanted to develop closer community with. I set up play dates in different spaces several times a month. And again, I always showed up and sometimes had a plus one. But I did not find community. At that point, I just stopped asking.
I have always been a old soul, but this experience really made me long for the old days when moms used to be hanging laundry in their backyards and would talk to each other over the fence. Community was right there. Moms would borrow sugar from their neighbor because they truly knew each other. They had space. Why don’t we have space? I want it! And I want others to have it so I can make friends!
Before this summer began, the word SPACE came to mind over and over again. SPACE. We need to make space in our lives for the unexpected. If we fill our lives with constant motion. . . .sports practices, small group meetings, church meetings, vacations, piano lessons, family get togethers, museum and zoo memberships. . . .we leave little to no room for the unexpected and the new. New friends, new experiences and last minute fun. If we aren’t careful, we will schedule our lives away and look back wondering what just happened.
How was your summer? Was it hectic? Is that how you want it to feel? Or do you want SPACE? I don’t know about you, but I want space! I want our daughter to be bored! I want the freedom to say yes to a friend who asks me out for coffee at the last minute. Or the opportunity to help someone when they have an emergency. Or the ability to drop everything and meet a friend at the park for a playdate. Leaving space for these things will also leave space for rest, creativity and spontaneity. That is definitely something I want for our daughter and for our family.
This summer, we intentionally made space. We didn’t go out of town or sign up for any camps. The only scheduled events were a week of swim lessons & VBS. What we DID do was go to the pool every week, play outside and meet up with friends. And I have to report that this was one of the best summers EVER.
I know there are things we have to schedule, and there will be seasons where we can’t make space. If you are like me and feel overwhelmed with all the running around, find a way to make space every once in a while. Say no to some things. Cancel some classes or events that you don’t have to attend. Be open to new adventures and maybe even new friends. It may be comfortable staying where you are, but if we didn’t make space this summer, we would have missed out on a lot. And that includes making new friends! I’m glad we did it and hope you will try it too.