Making Friends When You Grow Up Is Hard
When you're a child, making friends is as difficult as walking to school, sitting down at your desk, and saying hi to the kid next to you. As an adult, not so much.
Making friends is one of the few areas in life where practice doesn't make perfect. As I've moved around the country going from one state to another every couple of years, I have come to appreciate the infinite value of true friends. I have also pondered why it is so hard. Here is what I came up with:
#1. Technology. This seems like an oxymoron. Thanks to cell phones, emails, webcams, and social networking it is easier than ever to make 'friends' and keep 'friends' in this modern day and age.These kind of technological advances help most if your definition of friend is someone who 'likes' your pictures and makes 'comments' on your life occasionally. Unfortunately that is also the role of distant relatives, journalists, reporters and co-workers who know you about as well as your mailman. Thanks to technology we can also drive into our garages without ever having to step foot out of our cars and talk to our neighbors. We can also buy, sell, and trade without ever meeting the other person face to face. As a matter of fact, we can pay our bills, rent a movie, and learn just about anything we need to know without ever having to walk out our front doors thanks to T.V and internet. The force that once moved us off our couch and drove us out the front door to participate in community with others is all but gone except for the faint whisper of loneliness that still lingers among the socially isolated.
#2. Double Income families. More and more families are enjoying the financial advantages of having not just one, but two thriving careers bringing home double the income, double the fun. Who can blame them for wanting bigger houses, nicer cars, and more exotic vacations? While other families are just struggling to stay afloat even with two paychecks coming in every couple of weeks. The problem is that there is no time for anything else. When work is done you can finally make time to build relationships, after; dinner is made, house is cleaned, yard work is taken care of, emails are sent, bills are paid, homework is checked, laundry is washed and folded, dogs are fed, clothing is ironed, groceries are purchased, mail is opened, errands are ran, workout is completed, religious boxes are checked...you get the point. We are out of time.
#3. Sports. Not the kind ESPN covers 24/7. I'm talking about the most popular sport among adults 18-45: pinning our kids against eachother 5 nights a week to create the next generation of sports superstars. Lord knows every one of our children is the next Lebron James, Peyton Manning, or Tiger Woods. Our kids need to practice 10 hours a week, they are learning team work, getting exercise, and making 'friends'. All good friends give eachother concussions right? Meanwhile Mom and Dad make small talk with other team parents while bonding over their mutual disapproval of every team coach their superstar child has ever had. That's what friends are for. Maybe when football season, baseball season, and basketball season are over everyone will have time to sit down and get to know eachother on a deeper level, just don't plan anything on the weekends- those are reserved for tournaments and playoffs!
#4. Homeschooling. I feel your wrath coming homeschooling moms. Before you hunt me down and kill me, let me say that I love you and respect the sacrifice you are making for your children. You are saints. With that said, it used to be that once our children got to be school aged, Moms had a new found freedom with which we could gather together in the hours between 8am and 3 pm and go save the world, learn a new hobby, or just sit down over a cup of coffee and get to know one another. But only until 3pm, because that's when we have to pick up our kids from school. More and more women are opting to school their children at home thanks to educational budget cuts, safety threats, and the moral depravity plagueing cities all across the U.S. When Mom's become teachers they have as much free time as the married couples in Example #2: None.
#5. Microwaves. Not the kind that heat T.V. dinners, the kind that live in our minds. We want everything to be easy and if it's not, then we tend to just walk away. Unless of course, someone is paying us to stay. Building relationships are hard. Making friends takes time, money, and sacrifice. Staying friends takes patience, perseverance, and long suffering. In a culture where divorce is the status norm, who is going to put that much effort into maintaining their friendships? We'll just find another one. The problem is that we never experience the enormous blessing of having the kind of friend who journeys through life with us, who knows us on a deeper, more intimate level, who has stood the test of time, seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still wants to be our friend. My definition of a friend? A person who loves me unconditionally, is still there when everyone else has walked away, and likes me for who I am-not for what I can do for them.
Making friends is hard because making friends is hard. We don't have the time anymore, we have to make it. We don't have the opportunities anymore, we have to create them. We don't have our innocence, we must give grace. But when we take the leap over careers, chores, and busyness we land in the arms of loving friends who lift us up in a way that makes us better at everything else.