My phone buzzed with a text from an old friend: “You have to come to Kansas! I’m engaged!”
The two-week-old pile of laundry glared at me. My mind was full of an already full to-do list: work projects, forms to fill out for daycare, grocery shopping, dishes, doctor’s appointments, sleep to catch up on … even as it was my list resembled more of a collection of pipe dreams than actionable items.
Nowhere on there was space for a trip to Kansas.
I replied with a noncommittal “maybe,” and capped it with an exclamation point that I hoped would hide my anxious hesitancy.
However, deep down I knew as much as I couldn’t afford to take this trip, I couldn’t afford not to take it.
I Didn’t Have Time for Kansas—So I Went Anyway.
Ten years ago I had the incredible opportunity to live in Belize as a missionary. When beginning my time there, I had expected to get my fill of rice and beans and maybe pick up a little Spanish along the way. What I didn’t expect was to make the dearest of friends.
Among our group of volunteers, four of us girls became especially close. There we were seeking to make a difference in that little corner of the world and learning about life and what it means to be alive.
As our missionary experience stretched and challenged us, we held each other up, encouraged each other through our trials, and celebrated with each other for our joys.
Our nighttime chats on the roof of our tiny concrete Belizean house were affectionately dubbed our “rum circles” as we passed a shared bottle of rum and laughed and cried together.
After our time in Belize concluded we returned to the various home states—Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey, and Kansas—and settled into new routines of work and life. Over time, our conversations began to fade from days apart to weeks apart to months apart, dotted only by reuniting at each other’s weddings, always relying on some nebulous “next time” to bring us together again.
And now, ten years after our time in Belize, the last one of us was getting married. We would not be guaranteed another “next time.”
I thought again about my never-ending to-do list. Kansas would never fit on it.
So I threw it aside and booked my flight anyway.
The laundry could wait. I realized that if I didn’t make time now, if I didn’t make time for this precious gift of friendship with which I’d been blessed, would I ever?
Making Time for Those We Love Even When Life is Busy
As mothers we can so easily get swept up in the day-to-day obligations that we can lose sight of the pieces of life that make life so rich.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. But maybe we can reevaluate whether our to-do lists are taking up more room in our heart than relationships with those we love most, whether that’s quality time with high school or college friends, a grandparent, or even our spouse.
It may not mean a trip to Kansas, but maybe we can choose playing with our children over doing the dishes just a little more often.
We, of course, have to use prudence with this. I’m in no way advocating for being neglectful of necessary duties, but let’s invest in what makes life rich, not just what allows us to tick the checkboxes.
Isn’t that what we want for our children, too? To see them thriving in relationships that are healthy and happy because they’ve learned from us that they are worth making time for?
Going to Kansas for the wedding wasn’t, by some standards, sensible. I left the house a mess, my mind was heavy with a work meeting to come the following Monday, I missed my daughter and husband terribly, and I came back painfully tired.
But my heart was full.
As is the case with those rare and irreplaceable friendships, the four of us picked up right where we left off, not skipping a beat in the depths of our conversations. I hadn’t laughed so hard in quite some time.
At the wedding reception we shared marriage advice and laughed and cried—while taking turns with sips of rum as if nothing had changed. We had been the ones sharing the hopes and dreams for our futures, who we would marry and what our families might be like. And now we’re living those futures.
Relationships Over To-do Lists
For those relationships that are important to us, can we not stretch ourselves just a tad to make room for them?
For in doing so we give life permission to be just a little richer.
We live in an age of too much communication and, yet, not enough engagement. While social media can be a fantastic tool for staying in touch with friends, especially if they live a distance from us, it can also give the illusion of nurturing relationships, when it’s nothing more than a highlight reel update. A “like” and a winking emoji can never replace the value of truly listening and being present.