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When was the last time you had unscheduled time spent getting to know someone new, or catching up with an old friend?

Everything in my suburban-busy life is planned, scheduled and controlled.  Dare I linger longer than usual after church, or hang out by the mail box just to chat with the elderly lady next door.  Or chat with another mom at the playground when I really need to be grocery shopping.  “I can’t”, I usually think to myself.

Part of this “I just can’t” feeling is rooted in the ages of my young kids.  Somedays they feel like ticking time bombs that if we don’t keep moving, have lunch, take a nap, go to the park, etc.,  they might explode.  Another part is that I always feel like I have to be doing something “important” or productive.  I am not always sure what important thing I have to do, but I never spend unscheduled time with people because of all the things I should be doing.

Until recently, that is.

A few weeks ago, I hosted a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) playdate at my house with the ladies who have been at my table all year.  It was planned to be from 10-12.  Just as planned as all of our other meetings.

With nothing really serious to do afterwards, however, two friends from the group stayed for several hours after the play-date officially “ended”.  It was unplanned, spontaneous, relationally deepening time.  At first, to be honest, I was a little uncomfortable.  I thought “Wait- we need to end this.  It’s nap-time!  We have a schedule, and we try really hard to follow it everyday…for the sake of all our sanity!”

Much to my surprise, all the kids were just fine without their regularly planned naps.  The moms were just fine without our to-do lists getting checked off and without rushing to the next errand we had planned to run.

I don’t recommend throwing out your schedules everyday, but maybe this kind of unscheduled hang-out time every now and then was actually more helpful for my “sanity” than sticking to our schedule.

Spending TIME deepening our relationships is an essential part to our “sanity” in this in-sane world of technology, high-speed life and constant, yet shallow “connectedness” through “social” (but not too relational) media.

That summer afternoon, we just enjoyed time together, sitting in the warm sun, watching our kids play and hearing each others’ stories.  

We just enjoyed each other.

And sure enough, I got to know those two ladies more in that one unplanned afternoon than I did through a whole year of planned meetings.

Long gone are the days when people just stop by to say hi.  Or to sip tea on the front porch and catch up on the family.  I never really knew those times, just heard tell of them.  And even though I never really lived them, I miss them.

I miss being with people just to be with them.  I was filled up and refreshed by spontaneous quality time with new friends that afternoon and I’d like more of that this summer.

Don’t get me wrong.  Schedules are important.  I live a very scheduled and focused life.  And having a schedule actually brings freedom to do more of what is important everyday.  This summer, though, I want to arrange my schedule so that it frees me up for more unscheduled relationship-building time.

Life is just better with deep friendship, and friendships take time.

How about you?

When was the last time you had your day open to just “be” with people?

Do you have friendships where you feel free to just “stop in”?  I’d love to hear about it because I want more of that in my life.