I’ve been missing the season of my big kids being toddlers and preschoolers – not because I want to go back to them being little but because I miss the way my friendships were then. I have a toddler again, and as we go to swim lessons and potty train I’m reminded of when I walked through these seasons before.
Most of my friends then were stay-at-home moms too. We had a babysitting co-op. We met at the park often. We left one gathering usually knowing when we’d see each other again.
I have many of those same friends, but our friendships look different because the seasons have changed. The kids have grown up and go to school and have other commitments. Some of the moms have gone back to work and a few families have moved. Our schedules aren’t in sync like they used to be.
God authors changes, even the ones that come in relationships. That doesn’t always mean changes are easy, but knowing that truth does mean I see changes differently. Because, yes, when life changes, so do friendships.
(I know, I don’t really like it either!)
I’ve shared before, I’m the kind of person who wants to hold on tightly to friendships so things stay as they’ve always been with people choose I to be around. But that’s not realistic, as God is teaching me in this season of many changes.
I’m sharing five ways to handle friendship changes. In other words, this is how I’m slowly learning to hold loosely the people I love, even when I want to pull them all closely and hunker down in a commune-like bubble.
1. Find new ways to hang out.
My best friend is a teacher, so we have to hang out at different times than we used to. Plus together we have six kids who have their own stuff. But we still find ways to hang out. Some weeks we meet for dinner one evening between my girl’s piano lessons and her daughter’s gymnastics class. We love to gather our families on Saturdays for Settlers of Catan marathons, dinner, and general catching up. The kids like when that happens too.
Another friend and I have recently been trying to figure out how to get back in the habit of hanging out. We’re meeting for dinner this week, and hopefully we’ll be able to find other times that work in this season that involves homeschool and her own part-time job for her family as well as school days and toddler for mine.
2. Appreciate the traditions you have.
The photo I chose for this post is from one of my favorite traditions with my favorite friends. Our four families have gathered for Thanksgiving dinner together the past nine years. So many things have changed over those years, but I’m so grateful we’ve prioritized this tradition.
We have other friends we like to travel with to go see Murray State basketball games on the road. We outgrew fitting in one vehicle, so now we’ll borrow a bus so we can still go together. Closer to home, we’ll meet for dinner together before games.
Remembering and continuing those traditions are some of the best ways to connect.
3. Reach out to friends as you pray for them.
People are always going through things. Families I know are walking through hard times. Marriage and parenting can always use prayer. There are medical situations and job changes. So I put them on my prayer list and then I check in with them, even if that means sending a text with some encouragement or a quote that reminded me of them.
Reaching out doesn’t have be complicated, especially with today’s technology. Even when changes are for the good, they can be hard on people. Being present with prayers is a practical way to be there for people you love.
4. Don’t take their changes personally.
It’s true that a close friend’s circumstances can affect your life and have ripple effects. But I’ve had to remind myself God’s plans for one family often won’t look like his plans for mine. You can encourage them in whatever is happening for them and still process the effects on your life.
5. Notice the provision God has for you.
When a friendship changes because of logistics and schedules, I grieve what we used to have. And that is okay and healthy. But those changes don’t mean God is leaving us without. So many times I’ve seen new friendships develop or old friendships take a new shape in my life.
Sometimes the provision looks like new friendships. My closest friends are done having babies, but God has put a different circle of people who are pregnant and adopting in my life.
God knows what we need and provides
that – even when it surprises us.
Yes, sometimes people are in our life for a particular season. Sometimes we see the big picture in those scenarios and sometimes we have to hold onto the promise that God is for us and working all things together for the good even when we can’t see the whole thing.
I miss the friendships that came with having two small kids at the same time, but I love those kids being bigger now. And the friendships are still there, even if they take a little more work. Plus there are opportunities here with the toddler I do have and the people in our circle. I’m gathering a few of those friends at my house later this week for a lunch because God reminded the season we’re in now matters.
I originally shared this post a couple years ago, but it came to mind recently so I updated it with where I am now. I needed these reminders, so I thought maybe someone else did too.