Last weekend I was at a baby shower, for a very special friend of mine. I haven't been to a shower in a long time, and wasn't sure how it would work out but after praying and considering for a while after the invitation arrived, I felt like I should go. Actually, I felt like I wanted to go - and that told me I would be ok.
Anyway, that is a little detour on the way to the point of what I wanted to write. As part of the shower we went around and shared something about the Mama-to-be and why we thought she made a great mother. As we went around and shared, of course the tears started to flow as we appreciated just how much she had blessed us as a friend. (Seriously, guys just don't get this stuff! We imagined our husbands looking in on the scene just totally baffled as we passed the Kleenex! ha ha)
One of the things shared really got me thinking. Someone said that she felt so blessed because our mama-to-be always let her life be interrupted for others. It is so true about her, and I have felt the blessing of her availability in times of need on many occasions. I just loved to hear how this desire to be available for others had been such a gift in so many ways to those in just the small group gathered this weekend.
This comment was a jolt to me. I have had seasons of life where I felt like I was very available to my friends. I felt confident that they could count on me when they need to, but in recent months and years this has felt harder to do. Some of this happened when I Jeremy and I started dating. Having been single for a long time I usually had more open time and it was easier to adjust plans because I was the only person involved! Since we started dating, and especially since being married, I have had to adjust and make sure I am not being available to others at the expense of my marriage.
Another area when serving my friends becomes tricky is that today, the area they often need help is child care. While I have truly loved getting to hang out with some of the best kids on the planet at this time in my life, helping out in this way can feel like I am slapping myself in the face. It makes me sad that helping someone out by watching their kid isn't as easy as them coming over to join me and my own children baking cookies or chalking on the sidewalk. My day is not arranged to be kid friendly, so it means that it's harder to let me life be interrupted in that way.
Not that it means I can't be interrupted in this way, but I think that I need to recognise that I can't compare with my mum friends who seem to be able to help each other out so frequently. Right now, my life is not set up in a way that watching kids fits in easily into without having some negative effect on my life. School starts back next week and another quarter brings time commitments in that way. I can make plans and help out with childcare, but it's ok to say no. I cannot and must not compare. When I feel like a bad friend for having to say no, I have to remember that I would not be able to write a paper while playing at the park or giving a baby doll a bath. That's just how it is, and it is ok to say "no". Why is that such a hard word to say without guilt?!
Life is always busy. It should never be so busy that it cannot be interrupted for your friends. I think now is a new season for me, a time to see the ways my life can be interrupted.