She sent me another text hoping to plan a time we could get together. I sent another text apologizing for my unavailability. I had become a bad friend. And I knew it.
Before I was married, I valued my girlfriends more than money in the bank. They were my counselors, comforters, and sanity-savers. We had fun—gobs of it. Every week, we made dinner plans together, or met up at the gym, and always sat together at church. No one worried about running late. A seat would always be saved.
Even after I had kids, I tried to maintain some semblance of friendship. As time went on, I began to feel the deep void of this new stage of life as a wife and mom. The more kids I had, the harder it became to be a reliable and present friend. My core group of girlfriends eventually became scattered all over the country. As I searched for new friendships locally, they never materialized in quite the same way. That ache for a BFF gnawed at my heart. Was I destined to be someone who spent all her time with her kids or running errands?
I tried all the things. I introduced myself to other moms at church, organized play dates, planned mommy night’s out, and had families over for dinner. I bonded with different women but never felt like I could invest in them as much as I wanted to.
And then I began blogging. And writing books. And running a production company. And having another baby. And trying to volunteer at my kids’ school more often. So even when the invitations came to me, and the few friends I did have reached out, I had no more time or capacity to get together. Even when I connected with someone new, I was inconsistent in my friendship. I now believe that God was stripping me down to prepare me for the path He had for me in serving Him.
My ministry of blogging and writing and taking care of my family’s needs consumed every minute of my time. I wanted to foster new friendships and nurture my old ones, but I simply couldn’t do it all. It made me feel guilty until I went to a Beth Moore conference this past summer. During a Q&A session midway through the conference, one woman asked Beth how she found balance in her life. Beth writes books, speaks all over the country, and is involved in many aspects of intense ministry. How did she do it all?
My ears pricked up. How did Beth manage?
The truth is, Beth admitted that she is a bad friend. She decided a long time ago that her husband and two daughters were her people. Her free time would be spent with them. She acknowledged that she lost friendships because she simply couldn’t do her ministry and be a wife and mom as she wanted and needed to be, and be a good friend too.
Finally, I felt like I had permission to release both the guilt, and the desire, for friendship.
Now, I am not saying that this mentality is for everyone. God would certainly affirm the value of fellowship and friendship. But my deep longing was doing more harm than good. I have always prayed that the Lord would use me as He desired. For a very long time, I believed that the sum of my ministry would be by being a wife and mom and raising my children to know and love the Lord. Period. But He had different plans for my life. Plans that happened to include writing, and speaking, and teaching, and producing. To do those things, my family must remain my priority. Which they are.
So, dear friends, it’s not you. It’s me. I simply can’t chat on the phone, or come to your game night very often. I may not be able to deliver meals when you are sick or write you cards of encouragement—and that does bother me.
I’m not such a great friend And I’m learning to embrace it.
If you are my friend, please keep me in the loop. Reach out and invite me to a girl’s night—I may actually be able to go, like I did this last Friday night. But know that even though I love and care for you, this chapter of my life is a season where my focus is on my calling and my family. I hope our friendship is valuable enough to withstand the winds of change and that you will understand.
Perhaps that will be the truest measure of friendship—allowing me to be a bad friend in this season God has for me.