I’m not giving up coffee or chocolate or wine or cheese for Lent this year. I’m not promising to exercise more or sleep more, either. I’m not even promising to pray more (although I will anyway, because…LENT!) I’m not giving up anything this year.
Instead I’m taking up time with friends.
At first glance, adding people time seems a little selfish, not sacrificial.
But it’s not.
I’m sacrificing my irrational need to be busy and fill my days with events and accomplishments. In sacrificing those things, I make room for what is important, my relationships. God gave us each other for a reason and I don’t think I’ve been paying close enough attention to the gift of friendship he’s given me in my life.
At times, I deceive myself into feeling like I’m close to my friends simply because I’ve seen their latest happenings on social media. But that’s not connecting with my friends, that’s just watching them, which is definitely not the same thing.
I thought about giving up social media entirely, but I don’t think that’s my issue, at least not at the heart of it. Social media is only the band-aid I use on the days when I’m feeling lonely. I open up Instagram and see my friends’ faces and think about them and heart their posts, and feel a little better. But that’s not connection.
Time and conversation is connection.
A few weeks ago, I caught that awful thing going around and was out sick for five days. During that time I came across a study from the University of Oxford that indicated women who spend time with their friends twice a week are physically and mentally happier. I wasn’t even close to seeing my friends that often. I joked over text that maybe if we hung out more, I would be well. They didn’t disagree.
Days later, one of my friends was able to join me for yoga and a pint. After our time together, I felt amazing. I was relaxed and re-energized. I was happy and my mind was clear. Time with her was so much better than a scroll through my Instagram feed (obviously!) The funny thing is, it doesn’t have to take too much longer. We don’t need to always schedule dinners and outings weeks in advance, although that’s important too. It’s enough to reach out when you have a few moments for coffee, or yoga, or a pint, or a walk.
So, this Lent, I’m rekindling my friendships. I’m committing to face time and chat time and care of others time. Lent reminds us that our relationship with God is of utmost importance, and God reminds us that our relationships with friends are gifts to be received and nurtured.
God created us for exactly those moments. As St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) reminds us, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” We belong to each other. Let’s spend some time reconnecting.