The Healing Power of Friendship

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Making Time

I know, it's a challenge. We modern-day wives and mothers are breathtakingly busy. We're already scrambling to spend quality time with our kids; we're guilt-stricken about how little time is left over for our husbands; we're desperate for a little downtime for ourselves. Just how are we supposed to find the time to have a meaningful conversation with anyone outside our home or office?

Supposedly, cell phones and e-mails are the answer. They allow us to make use of those tiny windows of opportunity -- the "downtime" we experience while we're chauffeuring around our kids, for instance, or waiting for a plane or a doctor.

In my experience, however, real relationships are never built and rarely sustained on these info-bit exchanges. That's because one or both parties are doing something else while conversing: trawling the aisles of a supermarket, maybe, or driving the interstate. And when the person you're conversing with isn't able to give you her full attention, it's hard, if not impossible, to feel heard, let alone understood. It fails to comfort because it's not nurturing -- kind of the way popcorn fails to satisfy, even if you eat a bucketful, because it's not nourishing.

Worse, it's hard not to actively resent someone who demands your full attention when she's offering only half of hers. I have a neighbor who has a headset mobile phone. The minute she's in her car or otherwise multitasking, she puts in a call to me -- interrupting my family's dinner, summoning me in from the garden, waking us on Saturday morning on her way to soccer practice. And for what? The tiniest of questions, the most passing of thoughts, the slightest of impulses. She has, after all, "only a minute."

If I've learned anything in my harried life, it's that I won't just find the time for my friends; I have to make it. I've got to prioritize face time, schedule get-togethers, and then honor them instead of canceling at the last minute with a quick message left on the answering machine. In fact, anything administered in the way of a quick fix -- a volley of e-mails, a cell phone "check-in," even long messages left on the answering machine -- turns out to be counterproductive to real soul-restoring contact. And I can't be complacent about making new friendships, either. I have to put myself out there if I ever hope to meet others with whom I could have a connection.

Continued on page 3:  Knitting the Network


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