The Company I Keep



Before we moved to North Dakota, it was not uncommon for us to have a living room full of people on more than one evening a week. My spiritual gifting rested entirely in the realm of hospitality, and I was all too eager to commit to that role. We had dinners, we had game nights, we had Bible studies, and we had combinations of all of the above.

We also had a core group of friends we did most all of these activities with. A group of us from high school were quite close, and I was usually calling them to get something organized, whether I hosted it or not. I just loved being around people, and I especially loved being around *my* people.

After we moved here, I struggled mightily in building and maintaining relationships. I had never been surrounded by so many seemingly friendly people, yet simultaneously feeling so incredibly lonely. I was going back to Wyoming at every opportunity, simply to fulfill the need to be connected.

It took years – years – for us to find, connect, and stay engaged with friends.

As life went on, change came with it. Some of those people aren’t our friends anymore – for varying reasons. They moved away or perhaps we grew apart. Some of our friends we just plain never see anymore, thanks to getting sucked into our own worlds of busy.

I wouldn’t claim hospitality as my spiritual gifting anymore. There are but a few annual events I like to keep in my back pocket claiming hostess rights to. Otherwise, we’re kind of on the fly, and mostly wanting time to ourselves once the precious littles are tucked away in bed. Most days, I spend so much energy thinking, creating, and being responsible, I just want my evenings to be my chance to check out.

Relationships take work. And sometimes I’m all worked out.

But this is an incredible injustice.

I do love being around people, and I do love the genuine relationships we’ve formed with dear friends of ours. A lot of our friends in this day and age are fellow loss parents. They get my kind of crazy. Several of our friends are mentors. People who exercise and pursue the discipline and character we want to emulate – so we make it a point to spend time with them. Other friends we simply enjoy spending time with.

Yet, we’re so wrapped up in having to take time for ourselves, take time for our kids, take time for our work, take time for our creativity, and whatever else requires our time, we let our relationships wait on the sidelines for their chance to rotate in and make a play in our lives.

I used to be a tremendous planner, as well. Everyone knew well in advance when we were getting together, to do what, and where. These days I tend to favor spontaneity. I claim it’s spontaneity, when really it’s closer to a lack of preparation or planning. Either way, spontaneity isn’t an attribute most people appreciate in this season of life. Most of the time I don’t even bother extending a last-minute invitation.

And it’s a doggone shame.

I wrote recently about our ambushing skills and how we were going to get back in the game of ambushing people. Then we started asking permission to ambush people and it was always the wrong time or they had other stuff going on. We stopped ambushing. And our little flame of spontaneous acts of friendship dwindled out.

Now we’re in the throes of summer vacation. My company consists of an incredibly talkative six year old, and an incredibly physical two year old. They’re very spontaneous. They’re also very demanding. And sometimes mama just wants a chance to hang out with grownups without having to put the toys away, or fold the laundry, or make sure everyone’s attention is diverted upwards, away from the dirty kitchen floor. Sometimes I just want to have a living room full of people who want to share laughs or tears or both, over a board game or two. Sometimes I just want core group of people to whom I can say, “Hey – here’s what I’m dealing with.” and *poof* they show up. Sometimes I want to make sure people know I’m that person for them.

And sometimes I just want a nap.

This has no poignant life lesson. I have no way to eloquently conclude this. This is truly a mind mumble. Sometimes I miss the old days and the old ways. It seems like I had it all figured out back then. I knew how to do life. Now I’m just grasping at moments that can carry me through to the next place I’ll reside for awhile.

Maybe one day I’ll find my groove again. For now, though, the company I keep is the company who needs me most. Little Miss, Little Man, and Hunk-Husband. And when it comes down to it, I’m pretty great at keeping my living room full with them.