Over the weekend, I camped out for several hours in Panera working on a project I’d been contracted to write. It was a busy afternoon, and the tables were almost full, but luckily, I snagged one right by the window. I’m not a people watcher by nature, but I did see two women around my age sitting across from me having lunch together and enjoying a conversation. As they finished their meal, I heard one woman say to another, “I could stay here all day and talk with you, but I know you have a busy afternoon with the kids.” As she gathered her things to go, I could sense her friend’s hesitation to leave the table. What happened next surprised me. The friend began crying and sharing something obviously upsetting with her pal. I looked back down at my computer, not wanting to intrude on the very private moment these two girlfriends were sharing. The reason for the tears wasn’t known to me; what was obvious was that one friend was hurting and her pal stepped in to help.
Time is our most precious resource. It is unrenewable. We can’t get it back. How we spend our minutes is eventually how we’ll spend our lives. Those two friends in Panera chose to break away from their families for an hour to catch up over lunch. They can’t get that time back, yet the moments together were well spent. One really needed the other, but waited until the end of their time together to open up. I have to wonder how many moments I’ve cut short because of my impatience, where, had I just lingered a little longer, we may have gotten to the heart of the matter.
Ladies, we are coming into the busiest season of the year. It also happens to be the most painful for anyone who is grieving what is lost: a spouse, a parent, a job, a dream, an empty nest, a nest that was never full to begin with, a friend. When time is short, it is more important than ever to spend it well. To be intentional with those you love. To go deep even if time is scarce.
I have a dear friend from college whom I probably talk to once or twice a year. There are eight kids between us, leaving us about two seconds to chat, so we go deep right from the start. We discuss marriages and parents and kids, what we love about our lives and what we wish we could change, where we’ve been and who we’re becoming, and it’s so crazy beautiful this gift of time we give each other that sustains us until we can do it again.
This fall, I encourage you to offer your time to a friend. It can be half an hour or half a day. Share stories. Ask questions. Be intentional. Give her a warm hug before you go. Linger a minute longer in case she has anything else to say. And then listen, listen.