Summer is a season of long sunshine-filled days — memories at the pool and time spent with friends. I don’t know what it is about summer that means more when it comes to friendship, but I love it.
Last week we attended one of our favorite summer parties with 100 friends, and I was reminded once again about the value of community. Yet, it isn’t always feasible to come together for a big cookout. In this day and age, friends are spread across large cities, the country, even the world. However, that spread doesn’t mean those relationships should suffer, but it does mean we must be more intentional.
Intentionality doesn’t have to mean a ton of time. I have been working to be more intentional in my friendships.
Here are a few simple ways I have let my friends know that I love them . . .
Write a postcard: Postcards have had a surge in popularity in the past year, and it’s no wonder why. They’re the easiest way to send a hand-written message to someone you love. After all, because of their size and format, postcards don’t have the room for you to write a lot, but that’s not what matters, anyway. What matters is that you took a minute to think of the recipient.
This summer my son’s kindergarten teacher has sent him two postcards. Her thoughtfulness stuck with our family for many days. One small gesture can make a huge impact.
Send a text: Smartphones make text messaging incredibly easy, but I don’t know how proactive we are about using the technology to nurture our friendships.
Several times a week I try to send text messages to friends that I haven’t talked to in awhile. It might be just a simple hello, a reminder they are loved, or a few words about a prayer I have said for them. These text messages always result in my friend responding with gratitude and love. Oftentimes they will lead to more messages exchanged or a phone call.
Pick up the phone: I often think of friends in other cities and how I should call them when I have more time. But honestly, I rarely have more than 15-20 minutes to talk on the phone. So I’ve started calling friends and saying, I don’t have a lot of time, but I thought a little bit of time was better than no time at all, and the friend always agrees. With one friend recently, we called each other several days in a row after work to fully catch up on all that had been going on in our lives.
Make an invitation: We are so busy with our plans that we have blinders on to others who may be yearning for community. And the thing is, many times it would be so easy to invite someone over or to join you for plans you already have.
Our family recently went to see the movie Inside Out. On a whim, we decided to invite our neighbors who have children about the same age as ours. They joined us and we had a great evening. Afterward, they gushed with appreciation about our invitation. We had already planned on going to the movie, so inviting them was no big deal. But it was a big deal to them.
I’ll be honest. Some days I feel really lonely and that I don’t matter to others. Which isn’t true, of course. People are just busy. With work, kids, and other responsibilities, adding in “one more thing” can feel like too much.
We’re all busy. But if busyness is preventing friendships from flourishing, then something is wrong.
A radical change could happen if we all were a little more intentional — even in small ways, like sending text messages — in the relationships we value.
How are you intentional in your relationships? In what ways can you embrace small changes to foster deeper friendships in your life?