When asked about what it takes to form stable bonds of community, one woman I interviewed pointed out the prerequisite so fundamental it often gets overlooked: availability. Those who want to develop friendships have to be available for it, both in time and in heart. Those who aren’t, don’t.
This theory paints a picture for me. I see a woman who lives as though friendship is a legitimate and necessary part of her schedule and her health. She’s also connected to God’s inexhaustible love for herself and others, so she can make space for her own and someone else’s imperfections.
At the risk of stating the obvious, friendships do require some of our clock time. If we feel that we have no time for friendship in, say, four weeks, we’re not likely to count ourselves as part of a fabric of community. I personally need to have some friendship connections every week in order not to feel a bit isolated.
Given the realities of 21st century American life, if we want to move in the direction of stronger community ties, it’s likely we’re going to have to decide what other thing we’re okay with putting less time into.
I certainly don’t mean to trivialize the very real demands on our time. But it’s a good a time as any to consider if we’re trying too hard to have more than it all. We may be taking on yokes God is not calling us to bear. We may be putting time into non-life-giving things, out of habit. These are questions I’m considering as I think about my clock time availability for relationships.
However, for some women, clock time is not the real bottleneck–emotional energy is. I discuss this second kind of availability in Part 2.
What Do You Think?
To what extent do you observe that suburban New England woman struggle to make time for friendship? What do you think are the public obstacles? The private ones? Is there someone you want to pray for in that?
Has God been inviting you to spend less (or no) time on any particular thing recently, for the good of your soul and to free up space for relationships?