Thursday, May 28, 2009

Steps to Connection: Time

Do you ever feel jealous of people with inside jokes? Someone utters the word "jello" or some other innocuous word and their friends erupt in side-splitting laughter. Do you sit there, wishing you understood the humor, pining away to know someone that well? How can you be connected like that?

It takes time.

Memories are made by spending time with each other. The more we see and understand of each other, the more we bond. Granted, it's easier to connect with some than others, but the more time we share with a person, the more confidence we gain to share a little more of ourselves. The more experiences we share, the greater likelihood to find common ground.

Finding the time to cultivate relationships can be difficult. There's so much to do! How can we fit building friendships into our schedules?

As I think over my life and recall my deepest friendships, they all involved CONSISTENT time together. In high school I saw my friends every day and spent time hanging out with them on the weekends or on band trips and traveling to games. In college we spent many nights talking into the wee hours of the morning about life and love. At the very least, we spent a few hours every week in class together discussing complex social issues.

One of my longest relationships was formed on a volleyball team, not because we sweat so much together, but because we sat right next to each other on the bench regularly! Thirty years later I see her twice a month and know she is someone I could call for anything.

As an adult, families and responsibilities require more of us and our time, making it harder to devote the time to relationships, but I have seen a pattern in my own life which has helped.

When my husband first started working at our church, he and I had lunch once a week with the pastor and his wife. Not only did it give us a regular time to talk about the issues involved in our ministries, but it helped us get to know each other quickly and establish a good relationship. As youth group sponsors, we formed close relationships with the other sponsors, seeing them at least once a week for the actual meeting, and often more than that for planning. I've found really good friends in the worship and arts ministry at church, spending many hours in rehearsals together and singing side by side every Sunday. I've watched connection take place among very different women, spanning generational gaps, life stations and with a variety of life experiences, simply because they spend a couple of hours every week together at Bible study.

In every one of these instances, CONSISTENT time together as a group sparked a desire to spend time with individuals apart from the group. These associations spawned coffee dates and lunches, talks on my back porch, social outings and play dates for our kids. When life gets busy and it's hard to find time together privately, we at least connect at that weekly meeting.

If you are looking for relationships, I suggest you get yourself into some kind of a group that meets regularly, at least a couple times a month. Plan it into your schedule. I promise it will pay off. These consistent interactions are the perfect vehicle to learn about each other and often turn into some really good relationships.

I used to hear this phrase, "Quality time is more important than quantity of time." I'm a firm believer that quality time is impossible without a quantity of time.

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Rachelle said...

Great thoughts! Today would be a super day to sit and talk on the back porch! Wish I could come over.

Linda said...

Excellent Tami! Group settings are a perfect vehicle toward personal one-on-one relationships. It eases the process of getting to know people and reveals connections that lure us forward.

I was reluctant to be a part of the ladies bible study in the beginning, but it has helped me tremendously. I highly recommended regular contact for everyone. Join a group and I believe the more diverse the better.