By Nikki Daniel
As a pastor’s wife, I hear one complaint about motherhood over and over again: loneliness. As my pastor, my husband hears me share about one thing over and over again: loneliness. Let’s face it, friendships are very difficult to maintain when you have children at home because extra time is hard to find.
I’m not writing this article because I have boocoos of friends in the midst of being pregnant and raising two young boys. I’m writing because I don’t. I’m writing because the gospel defines every area of life, including this one. I’m writing because we can develop friendships in the midst of this lonely stage of life.
Raising children is a tremendous blessing and responsibility. I can go days on end without leaving my house because the responsibility is so great. When combined with investing in my marriage, maintaining housework, and making meals, my social life can very easily become relegated to Facebook.
But what about the gospel and how does it speak to my loneliness?
Jesus absorbed the wrath of God that we deserve and in turn, gave us His perfect right-standing with God. This salvation was for both individuals and a community. The individual Christian was saved into the church, the family, of God. How does this speak to the lonely and worn-out mom today? The communal aspect of the gospel means that God wants you to have good, solid friendships with other Christian women! He created us to truly know each other in the chaos of motherhood! “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Not “sold” on the idea that the gospel is communal? Here are just a few more verses that speak to friendships and community:
“…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” Romans 12:5.
“Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” 1 Corinthians 10:17.
“…for we are members one of another” Ephesians 4:25b.
Here are four practical ideas for forming friendships in the depths of the loneliness of motherhood. These are simply suggestions to help you get started. If these suggestions seem overwhelming, simply try one to see how it goes!
Invite others into your chaos
Initiate play dates with other moms in your stage of life and don’t try to have the house perfect for them. They are moms too and they understand the mess that comes with having children at home during the day! If your children can play together, the pressure to “entertain” is gone and you can get some fellowship in. Yes, your conversations will be defined by “Hold on, let me discipline her for being bossy” or “Son! Don’t open those drawers!” However, if these play dates become a regular calendar event, your friendships with these other moms will grow. Play dates provide many opportunities to learn how to love your children better, as well as how to form friendships in the midst of messy hair and messy houses.
In addition, how about inviting a family over for dinner? I know, this can be overwhelming for me at times too. Yes, the floors will get messier than usual. Yes, you will have to prepare more food. But keep it simple and ask the other mom to bring a dessert! One of my favorite “go to’s” for this is having the men grill out burgers or chicken while the moms put together 2 simple sides inside (like cutting up fruit and opening a couple of bags of chips!). There is very little prep time involved with this but you will be showing hospitality, which can lead to deep friendships! Consider these verses: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”1 Peter 4:8-10 and, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” Romans 12:13.
As you think through women you would like to form friendships with, don’t forget single women. Just because a single woman is in a different stage of life doesn’t mean she has less potential of being a really good friend. The Lord has intentionally created the church to include people in every stage of life and with varying backgrounds on purpose. We would miss out tremendously if we limited our friendships only to those in the exact same stage of life as ourselves.
Joyfully step into the chaos of others
Accept invitations from other women to spend time together as you feel able. It will often pull you out of the routine of everyday life, which can be difficult at times. There may be piles of laundry you leave behind and we all know how undone tasks can nag! But there’s always more laundry to be done. You may have to heat up a frozen pizza for dinner so you can go to someone’s house for a play date during dinner prep time. It’s worth it!
When you plan something with someone, don’t pull out of it last minute. There have been times when I run through a mental list of everything I need to get done before bed and I end up canceling a play date. Push some things off until tomorrow so you can form friendships! “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. This is such an encouraging friendship verse because we all fall at times; it can feel sometimes to be true especially in motherhood. How sweet it is to have a friend to lift you back up!
Take time off
Talk to your husband about a weekly night off. Invite some women whom you want to know better out for dinner or coffee. Find a night that works and stick with it. So Thursday nights become mommy’s night to get out and have adult conversation with other women. Another important friendship to form is the friendship with your husband. Try to find time for a consistent date night. There are ways to date even without leaving the home. If you are on a limited budget or don’t have a babysitter, have an “after hours date night.” This might be the two of you playing games or have a special late night dessert and conversation after the kids are in bed.
Take advantage of already planned outings
Are you taking the kids to the library? Invite that mom you’ve brushed arms with in the church nursery to join you. Are you going to the mall? Call up that interesting woman in your small group and ask her to meet you there. The idea is to use your everyday activities with intentionality. I’ve even been known to invite a friend to go grocery shopping with me! Doing everyday things together with a friend opens up many opportunities to grow deeper together in love. The point is to be near each other, even when you are busy. “Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend… Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away” Proverbs 27:10.
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” Romans 12:10. How are we to love one another with brotherly affection if we don’t take the time to form friendships with each other? Friendships are good and they are vital to the Christian walk. God desires for us to have friends. Let’s all step out of our lonely mommy routines and form friendships with intentionality.
Nikki Daniel is a pastor’s wife from Augusta, Georgia (www.bbcaugusta.org). She has two fun-loving boys and enjoys working from home as a freelance writer and graphic designer.
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