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?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I am always looking for ways to live more intentionally. I realized that over the years, I have accumulated a lot of different notecards. I’ve picked them up here and there because I thought they were pretty or they were part of a sale I couldn’t pass up. Now I’ve challenged myself to sending them out…letting different people in my life know I love them and appreciate them just for being themselves. It’s a small gesture that doesn’t take much time, but means so much to the receiver. Thanks for all these great reminders of ways to foster friendship.
Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving says
This came at the perfect time, as I just reconnected with two friends, who live several states away this week. They’re not the best at keeping in touch, so I’ve decided that I need to be the one to be intentional in keeping us connected. Thank you for the reminder to make nurturing our friendships a priority, Jessica!
Silvia Arvelo says
I have been feeling some of the things that you describe in your blog. For me friendship is a beautiful thing but just like marriage, we need to be intentional about it. Knowing great people and having them in your life but yet still feeling lonely is a terrible thing. Just a few weeks ago I was trying to explain to a friend that I know she is very busy with life, so am I, but I would like to be “part” of that life….no new plans just inclusion. I love that you mention that simple change in your blog. Have a wonderful day!!!
Great word! I sometimes feel lonely and I realize that I could do something about it by picking up the phone and calling a friend, who might be feeling lonely herself. I think the fear of rejection keeps me from even trying and it shouldn’t. For some reason we think we are the only ones, don’t we? I love the story about inviting the other family to the movies. I think maybe we will try to invite our neighbors over one evening since we are new to the neighborhood. And I’m a big fan of snail mail because it’s not so immediate. You can carry cards in your purse and write them out while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or a kid’s sports practice and mail them when we you get a chance.
Karina Allen says
Gah! I love this Jess!
I always tell people that we are never going to get less busy. I am for all of your tips but I really have seen the power of incorporating friends into what we are already doing. There have been countless times that I have gone grocery shopping with friends that have littles or have even gone to their houses and help to clean or do laundry while we have great conversations.
I am all about that intentional life! Ha!
Kirsten Holmberg says
Jessica, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, it’s something I speak on frequently. My favorite tip (along with most of yours!) is to set multiple dates when you’ve made the invitation. Why not set two or three opportunities to gather if you’re already on the phone (or text or email…). Usually, the initial query is the biggest roadblock to actually seeing friends.
Love the blog post and as soon as I got to the texting suggestions, I stopped and sent a few texts. Thanks for the reminders on how to be more intentional.
Beth Williams says
“But if busyness is preventing friendships from flourishing, then something is wrong.” How very true that is. We get so busy in this day and age that we forget about people and then wonder why we don’t have more friends. I love receiving text messages, hand written cards, etc. from people. I send out hand written cards, emails, texts to people telling them I’m thinking of them, missing them, etc. They know they are thought of and loved. I want to stay close to my friends and treasure them!
that is great. I agree.. for all my life I have been the friend who does the calling, the note sending and lil gift giving, remembering birthdays and making them special for friends, but I got really burned out and simply quit. I felt no one cared, every time I would call they appreciate it but never call me first to encourage me.i felt like the forgotten friend. even tho I was in a big group I always did a lot of the caring and finally had enough.our family went thru hard time and no one knew because no one calls, if I had called all of them then they would be there for us and care..but no one knew., not even my best friend of 25 years, it broke my heart and I pulled away. I don’t think everyones lives are so busy that they cant care when a friend is in a very sad spot in her life. so now im more cautious and intential in the smaller group of friends I do have. I still bless them and care but have guarded my heart more , so not to burn out and have my own light extinguished. its a balancing act in life for sure.. God, family, friends and everything that eats up our time.
For us, summer means lots of times like you’ve described above: pools, cookouts, etc. But there are also a lot of “everyone’s on vacation at different times” times…and we are, like, “WHERE IS EVERYBODY?” It can be reeeeeally quiet. Thank you for this reminder to be intentional. Especially in the summer. 🙂