Cultivating and maintaining friendships can be hard at the best of times, but it’s even more so when we’re in the season of young children. Our schedules often revolve around nap time and making meals and changing dirty diapers, and between trying to keep the chaos of our homes at bay and locking ourselves behind the bathroom door so that we can catch a quick moment to ourselves, it can be a real challenge to steal a few precious moments to connect with other women.
And I don’t mean that brief-smile-and-hug kind of connection with the other Mama dropping her child off in the church nursery at the same time as you. I mean that real, intentional connection that fills us up and refreshes our hearts with the knowledge that we are not alone on this journey.
So, how do we Mama’s practically cultivate and maintain real, heart-level friendships in this busy season where we can’t seem to catch a break?
SET ASIDE SPECIFIC TIME FOR OTHERS
While it’s tempting to make an excuse and stay home so we can get that sink full of dishes done, we need to intentionally make time for our friendships. I understand how the days can slip by without us even noticing and that there’s is never enough time to get everything scratched off our continually growing to-do list. But ladies, if we do not intentionally set aside time to be in relationship with other women, even if it’s only an hour a week, we will find ourselves feeling alone and empty. And Mama who feels alone and empty is not a Mama who is at her best to serve her people.
See, we were created in the image of a communal God. We were created for community! Being in intentional relationship with other women fills us with life and hope and reminds us of our purpose in this crazy world. Being in relationship with other women helps us to know that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t the only Mama who feels like throwing in the towel on occasion.
Do you know what kind of hope that produces in the depths of our hearts?
BE REAL AND AUTHENTIC
While we need to set aside intentional time for cultivating and maintaining friendships with other women, that doesn’t always mean leaving those dishes to soak in already cold water. Rather, it means that we need to invite other women into the mundane and the craziness of our everyday life. It means being awkward and authentic and messy, choosing to set aside that Pinterest-perfect image we so desperately want the world to see.
When we set aside our drive and desire to appear that we have it all together, it gives other women permission to accept the imperfections in themselves and their life as well. And together, we women can then truly explore His grace and find real beauty in the midst of this crazy circus called life.
So, let’s warm up the dish water once again and invite another lady to have the tea towel ready all the while talking about how we’re really doing.
LET GO OF UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Socrates once said that “what screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it’s supposed to be.” The same can be said for relationships.
No one person is perfect. (Well, besides Jesus.) And we can all agree that we each lead hard, hectic, messy lives, and that we carry that mess into each of our relationships. So why then do we expect perfection in our friendships? Why do we expect that a real friend will never hurt our tender hearts?
When we let go of unrealistic expectations, we set the stage for a friendship filled with grace and forgiveness, whether that be grace and forgiveness with ourselves because we haven’t intentionally set aside time for our friends or been entirely real and authentic with them, or be that grace and forgiveness towards that friend who may have put you off, making you feel alone or uncomfortable, or both.
Ladies, we were made to be in authentic community with each other, where each person is loved and valued for who she is, where each lady is encouraged to be all that she was created to be. So let us clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, truly loving and forgiving each other at all times, holding each other up when the road get’s rough and our feet grow weary, encouraging and challenging each other to be the very best that we can be.
I promise it will be worth it.