The Case of the Vanishing Spontaneous Friendship

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:10

Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright,
holy and disciplined.
Titus 1:8

Maybe I am a dinosaur, out of step, out of sync, an anachronism in the post-modern, millennial world. But, I still believe in the value of the spontaneous friendship. The one that doesn’t have to be scheduled and organized and entered as an appointment in your smart phone calendar. The one that is happy to have friends just drop in for reasons or no reason at all, just because they want to spend time with me.  I seem to be the only one I know who feels this way though!  Which means, no one actually does just “drop in,” even when repeatedly invited to do so.

Another side of this problem is that I find, even when I try to adapt to the reality that no one wants to just drop in at random — and probably doesn’t really believe that I mean it when I say I am OK with that because that seems to be a foreign idea in this day and age — and invite people over for specific times, people are so darned busy and overscheduled and overcommitted that they are almost never available just to casually hang out, come for lunch, dinner, tea, game night….anything. Forget saying, “Hey come over for lunch today (or dinner/game night on ___). Bring the kids. I miss you. Let’s just hang out and chat. Your place or mine?” or “Hey, I really need to talk. Can I come over?” Such invitations and requests are met with “I can’t. I have to….” or “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” Except they are so busy, they forget and after a few invites that lay forgotten or ignored, I take the hint that even scheduling time with me is not high on their priority list.

To me this all begs the question of whatever happened to spontaneous friendship and the welcoming habit of hospitality at anytime, not just when it seems convenient and planned out?  The one that really invests time in and care for another person as an equal in the bond of true friendship and not just a duty to be scheduled and checked off a to-do list as an act of charity and busyness fulfilled?

Some years back, I was in a small women’s Bible study. There were six of us and we all seemed to bond really well. The fellowship and conversation was sweet. As the study was ending, we were lamenting the end of our time together and wishing we could continue, discussing ways to keep meeting, what we could do next.  It all seemed great and honest and sincere, until I, thinking of the concept of Nancy Moser’s Sister Circle, suggested we form one of our own where we could just be sisters who didn’t need invitations to stay in touch, drop in, talk, get together. We could just be the tight knit circle of friends it seemed we had become and be there for one another through thick and thin. It was amazing how fast the tenor of the conversation changed to excuses for not doing anything so unplanned, spontaneous and unpredictable. From fears of “what if my house isn’t clean?” or “what if I’m in my grubbies or PJs or around the house clothes?” to “I’m too busy. I can’t guarantee I will be there for an unplanned drop in.”  The whole thing quickly devolved into “Well, maybe, if we scheduled a get together once a month.” This from ladies who evidently had time to come to a weekly Bible study, now suddenly couldn’t find time to see each other casually more than once a month. Frankly, they missed the whole point — true friendship doesn’t need to be scheduled. Nor does a true friend care what I’m wearing or the state of my house when they stop by on spur of the moment just to say hi, just because they like me. True friendship doesn’t need to put on a show to impress others.

When hospitality becomes an art, it loses its very soul.

Max Beerbohm

I understand that the demands and expectations of modern society drive people into all kinds of over-commitment and busyness but I may also be the only person on the planet with a pathological aversion to such excessive busyness — therefore, I just don’t do it.  It makes for much more peace of mind and quality of life to pick and choose a few quality time activities and leave room for spontaneity, spur of the moment, the unplanned. In my opinion, if I am too busy to be hospitable and friendly — whether it is to my kids or visitors, then my priorities are all out of whack and I am out of sync with the heart of Jesus who always had time for people and understood the value of quiet time away from the rat race.

I may be out of tune with the world’s focus on busyness, over-commitment, planning and scheduling even our closest friendships as a duty on a checklist, but I will take being in tune with the heart of GOD for people any day. So if you live in my area and I know you, I am completely serious when I say with all possible graciousness — for heaven’s sake, stop standing on ceremony and just come over already! My door is open to you at anytime — as long as you’re coming to see me and the kids as equals (socially and morally/spiritually) and not to critique my house or my fashion choices.  Most of the time, I have or can make the time to be hospitable whether I expected you or not. (What’s the worst that can happen — I’m out running errands?  No problem, just come back later.  No biggie!  You can even call or text me and ask when I’ll be home. Easy peasy. Problem solved!) I am honestly, truly NOT KIDDING!  Come–with warning or without–just come! If you need directions, just ask.  Formality and a date planner over friendship is REALLY not my cup o’tea.

Blessings!
Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go?  Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.  2 Timothy 1:12

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5 thoughts on “The Case of the Vanishing Spontaneous Friendship

    • Actually, yes, absolutely I am! And I do. In my experience though, people don’t invite people over and just hang out together like they used to. It’s sad to me that people are uncomfortable with even their close friends just showing up and have to have everything meticulously planned out and scheduled weeks in advance; and have difficulty finding the time to do even that. But unless my kids have an evening event or performance (rarely) or I am out of town (even rarer) or I am on a strict writing deadline and racing to get a project in under the wire (sporadic, irregular occurrence), I will most likely say yes if someone invites me. In fact, I have two women’s get togethers with some of my besties next weekend — unusual cluster of invites and it still isn’t the spontaneity that should be acceptable with those closest to me, but I’ll take it!

      I’ve also noticed that just getting together without a specific agenda or activity plan in mind to define the time together and set limits on beginning and ending, most people get really nervous and uncomfortable. Women get together for “parties” to sell something or other or a specific official sponsored event such as a church Bible study or seasonal decorating or to plan activities for their kids’ youth organization of choice. But they don’t get together “just because” without the official label or defined agenda. If someone only wants to get together with me when there is something to buy and sell or a semblance of official capacity, I have to question motives. Are you REALLY interested in me or only “officially” interested in me because your position requires you to do so or at least act like it; or because making nice with me might boost you or your friend’s sales? It’s all just very strange to me and I wish we could just get back to casual visiting, no agenda, no plan other than enjoying one another’s company and being there for one another without artificial time limits that feel like I am just a checkmark on your checklist of “official kindness” with no true interest in me at all. Like I said, I think I am an 8-track in a digital world in all this!

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  1. Tamara, I do understand, I find it that way as well, at least with me and mine; however, it doesn’t seem to be that way with my kids; they seem to do that type thing, so…however, seems I still find that the next up, who used to do that, don’t seem to have a problem with me just popping in and actually seem glad, unless they’ve got something going on with somebody else, that still I don’t really think they have a problem; I think it’s more the other people when they show up, not sure if it’s planned or not but don’t seem to really like finding somebody they weren’t expecting there when they’re trying to deal with something they’ve got planned. But can I ask what an evening even would have to do with a daytime one, or are you only available in the evenings yourself? How did your get-togethers go?

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    • Thing is if I drop in at a bad time, I am not an insensitive, uncouth boor, I can come back later or if they need help with something, pitch in. It is supposed to be friendship, not just being pampered and catered to as a guest. I am not there to be served or impressed! I would feel the same with people just dropping in on me! But I think I am the only one I know who thinks like this. One of the get togethers was cancelled by the hostess because of unspecified family issues. The other was a complete let down because it was one of those “buy my product” parties and people barely acknowledged each other. No actual fellowship or friendship going around. It was like being alone in a crowded room, even when I would try to start up a conversation with someone, it was like they barely acknowledged each other’s presence or mine and it would fall flat. Very sad!

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      • I understand; I feel the same way; don’t know if it’s something here, but seems they’re the ones who feel uncomfortable, like even my mil, that I used to do that with, until, if I came or anybody, really, she didn’t want to go on with her work and let you help; no, she wanted to stop everything and, like you said, treat you as a guest! that’s not what I wanted! although, in her case, I think she was looking for an excuse not to do her work; if I did find something to do and did it, she always seemed insulted, so I finally just quit going to see her, sorry but everybody to a degree, anymore, seems to be that way; they seem to feel, although they do seem to want to, treat you like a guest and not really let you into their lives, or maybe it’s their family; anyway the one I did drop in on did ask me an interesting question as I got ready to leave that day – if I bought old books on the internet? not sure how much she knows how much I do love old books, so was thinking was there more to that than seemed, was that an invitation, so I did go back and actually had a good visit, until the other person showed up; turned out she has old books and was cool, I actually got the tour of the house, like into her son’s room – grown, long story, but a part of the house that doesn’t reflect the side she normally shows, got to see her real reality, because that’s where a piece of furniture is that she thought she’d put some of the old books in, although turned out not, but to even get into that piece of furniture, which didn’t have knobs/handles, required getting a knife to pry the doors open, just another piece of reality she normally wouldn’t show, along with, and not even sure how this came to be – oh, yes, I do, turned out she had a handyman there – oh, I know what it was, she was having some plumbing issues and he was there fixing them, but had led – not really sure what the plumbing issue actually was but – to him being in the laundry room and talking about building her some shelves, which led to her taking me into that room – now how often does that happen? and was surprised; these are well-off people and this house, to look at what you normally get to see, you would think the laundry room would have been all done as well, with all the shelving, etc., but no, none, nada, and no pantry either, full of furniture pieces and not really even like a freestanding pantry, mostly old entertainment type center things trying to be repurposed, actually was really surprised, but also, and think you can relate, felt a kinship with her in being allowed to see all that that normally you wouldn’t be allowed, then out to her outbuilding where she also thought maybe her books were but still no….but then got to see what appeared to be all her “stuff” and this is the lady – the go-to lady, which is why that other person had shown up – that people go to to get her stuff for fancy things like, in this case, their 50th wedding anniversary dinner, but I think; well, I know she used to have a bigger, fancier house, not that what they have now is anything to sneeze at, just that they used to be really something and I suspect, though I was never in those, that she used to have those type things in her house put up in really nice places; I’d love to know what the lady who was borrowing them this time thought of where they were but there was so much packed already into that shed, which isn’t just a little thing thought it’s not a big garage either that I’m not sure where she’d have room to put the books, but something definitely needs to be done because they are in the garage, some in totes, but some in just cardboard boxes on the concrete floor, but the handyman who was there said that some rainy day – which yesterday was supposed to be but didn’t – and he couldn’t work outside he’d move them, so I’m waiting…..

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