According to (at least) one woman I interviewed, those who develop strong ties are those who are available for friendship, both in time and in heart. In the last post, I looked at the challenge of weaving friendships into our schedule.
But for some women, emotional energy (not clock time) is the real bottleneck. When we intuitively tabulate the emotional cost of spending time with someone, on many days we may conclude we don’t have enough to pay that bill.
I think that kind of math is most helpful if you find yourself in an extremely imbalanced relationship with a pushy, demanding, narcissist type (or you are a pushy, demanding, narcissist type…). In those and other such extreme cases, prayerfully considering limiting your exposure to one another is often wise and prudent.
For everyone else, if we believe one person is somewhat needier than the other on any given day, we may try do the math of whether getting together is “worth” the time we have to spend, or the opposite calculation of whether we have enough emotional energy to give. But these types of calculations betray an incomplete understanding of the purpose and dynamics of Christian friendship.
Friendships are places where God can show His goodness in ways he doesn’t show us alone.
And here’s the kicker—we never know ahead of time who/how God intends to bless during that time. But we’re both there to experience it. God will reveal something as you’re together, often in surprising ways.
God’s self-revelation is always a gift to our souls, even if it’s technically “about” the other person. And when things get tense, as they do in authentic relationships, God is right there, waiting to hear our prayers and give us wisdom, love, and hope.
So the “room” for the relationship doesn’t have to fit in the confines of our tiny little hearts. If our hearts are open to God’s inexhaustible love, then God’s heart adds more than enough emotional square footage for everyone.
With God in mind, a more accurate kind of calculus for Do I have enough energy for this relationship today? is actually To what extent am I open to God’s unexpected blessing in that time together? That way the sum always comes out in everyone’s favor, because the riches of community are always coming from God anyway.
Even when we feel full and strong, it’s just as important see God as the source of love and joy in relationships. Let’s never deceive ourselves into thinking we are the source of what our friends or loved ones most need, or vice versa. But God does often make us a conduit of His love to one another—if we are available.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! …For there the Lord bestows his blessing—even life forevermore.” – Psalm 133:1, 3b.
Disclaimer: If you have some form of chronic illness that keeps you physically tired, or you have life circumstances keeping you sleep deprived, that’s a type of challenge that deserves its own post. There is certainly overlap between physical exhaustion and emotional depletion. But we’ll explore that more in a coming post.
What Do You Think?
To what extent do you think suburban New England women are emotionally depleted often enough that it hinders their ability to form stable relationships? Do you have ideas as to the main cause(s)?
To what extent do you see God as a resource to you when you feel emotionally depleted? To what extent do you feel freedom and trust to let God guide you, either way, in what you have “enough” for, or what is “worth” the time?