Today is March 13th, a date I will always remember with extreme sadness and heartache. Six years have now come and gone since that day I had to say goodbye to my beautiful mother after losing her battle with breast cancer. It was the day a piece of my heart left me when she left this earth.
She watched me take my very first breath when I was born into this world and I watched her take her very last. I miss her so deeply. My heart still hurts from the overwhelming loss of not having her here anymore. Although our time together was cut short, I am so grateful for the years I was graciously given with her.
One of the most important lessons I learned from my incredibly wise mother was about giving the gift of time. I remember asking her every birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas what she would like to receive for a gift and she always had the same response: “I want YOU, Kimberly!” What she meant by that was she wanted my time. There was nothing I could give her materially that could ever amount to the precious treasure of giving her my time.
Time is precious because each one of us has a set amount of it which cannot be replaced. Once it is used, you can never get it back. It is a portion of your life that is gone forever. Time is truly one of the most valuable gifts you can give to someone.
Strengthen Relationships with Your Time
If a relationship is important to you, you need to make time for it. Investing in the person by giving them your time is the only way to truly strengthen your connection. When you show someone they are worth your time, your relationship becomes deeper, stronger, and more meaningful.
I do not remember many of the material gifts I gave my mother over the years but I do remember the experiences we shared together. One of my favorites was a fun day we spent being pampered, sitting in comfy massage chairs while getting relaxing cucumber pedicures.
I loved our mother-daughter weekends and treasured them even more when we lived in separate states and did not get to spend as much time together.
We live in an incredibly busy world with so much pulling at us for our time from all different directions. But one of the most valuable places to invest your time is in relationships. Strong social relationships are known to benefit one’s health with advantages such as a better immune system and reduced stress. Research has shown that people who are socially isolated are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease compared to those with a strong social circle.
According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has almost tripled in the last few decades. It also shows that the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have is “zero.” Those are very sad statistics. For optimal well-being, a person needs between three and five close friends. How many can you say that you have right now?
Know that you will get out of your friendships what you put into them. Time is certainly the most important but the way you give your time is also critical to keeping your relationships with your friends strong and solid.
Make an Effort
A relationship is two-sided. If you have ever had a friendship with someone where you feel like you are the only one putting forth any effort in communicating or getting together, you know how hard it is to keep that friendship going. It usually does not last. The effort must come from both sides because it shows how much you care about investing in the friendship.
Texting a friend to let them know you are thinking of them is a nice gesture, especially on busy days, but friendships cannot live on texts alone. It’s important to take a little more time and effort now and then to talk to them on the phone. How uplifting it is to hear a friend’s voice on the other end! Having a conversation where you can share real emotions instead of emojis and laugh out loud together instead of simply texting “LOL” adds so much more richness to a friendship.
Make face-to-face time a priority. Meet with your friend in person over a cup of coffee or take a walk together on a pretty day. A great way to strengthen your friendship is to find an activity you would both enjoy and invite your friend to share that experience with you. How valued your friend will feel knowing you made the extra effort to find a fun activity to share together!
Not long ago, a friend of mine invited me to a fabulous chocolate festival.
We both love chocolate so after I happily accepted her offer, she bought a ticket to the event for me and told me it was her treat. I felt so special! She made an effort to spend time with me and I knew, without a doubt, that she truly valued our friendship.
If you have anyone in your life who makes an effort to get together with you, be sure to be responsive and consider yourself very blessed! If you ignore their invitation or put off getting together with this friend who has offered their valuable time to you, they may quit asking. So it is important to be courteous and respond graciously. If you cannot get together at that time, make the effort to reach out to them to put another date on the calendar that works for both of you. That conveys the message that you sincerely value your friendship.
On that same note, if you ask a friend to set aside time for you to get together, be sure to do everything in your power to keep that time reserved for them. It is never good to make plans with someone only to break them again and again. Be a loyal friend by keeping your commitment to them.
Also, make the effort to show up on time which is communicating that you are a person of your word, the foundation of reliability. This is important because relationships are built on trust.
Immerse Yourself in the Moment
When you are enjoying face-to-face time with a friend, how present are you? There are so many distractions going on around us that it is very easy to pay attention to everything but the person sitting across from us. One of the worst distractions, in my opinion, is the cell phone. I say this because I have experienced that awful feeling of sitting there, eating a meal in silence for several minutes (which seemed like an eternity), while my friend across from me is texting madly about something much more important than our conversation.
What a statement it would make about how much you value your friend if you put your phone away during the short time you have while sharing that face-to-face time together! It also says, “I respect your time which is the most valuable gift you could give me and I want to be fully present for you.”
To be “fully present” means to immerse yourself in the moment, completely focused on your friend sitting there in front of you and all they are sharing with you. You are engrossed and engaged in the conversation, listening intently without interruption or thinking about what you are going to say next. You ask relevant questions and allow your friend to share equally. You give good eye contact so they know you are really listening. These actions don’t come easy for most people and definitely take practice!
They are important actions to master, however, when you think about how it feels to share your feelings with someone only to realize their mind (and eyes) are elsewhere. It seems like a waste of words – and your precious time – not to mention how hurtful it may feel to you. There is so much to be gained from being fully present and actively engaged…like keeping a good friend!
Spending some time to express to your friend how much you appreciate them goes a long way. If they have been kind or thoughtful toward you, be sure to thank them! Those two little words “thank you” can mean so much to a person when they are acknowledged for their efforts.
Show your appreciation by being generous with your words – in the moment. If there is something you admire about your friend, let them know right then and there. It is such a boost to the heart, mind, and spirit to hear affirming words.
Celebrate their birthday in a meaningful way to help them know how important their friendship is to you. A birthday signifies the day they were born and should be celebrated in a special way. When you celebrate them, you are expressing gratitude for the blessing their friendship has brought to you which would not be possible if they had never been born!
Take time to send a handwritten note of thankfulness for them being in your life.
The impact of handwritten messages lasts much longer than any high-tech alternative version. There is no comparison to this traditional and intentional means of conversation. To be able to write thoughtfully, you must be focused on the present moment. It is a powerful message you are sending to them when you take the time to write out your thoughts by hand, purchase a stamp, place it in the mailbox, and wait days for your friend to receive it. There is nothing else like it!
When all of these ways of showing appreciation come from the heart, you are fertilizing the seeds of friendship and over time, you will be able to see them grow into beautiful blooms.
I am so thankful my mother taught me the value of giving your time and am beyond grateful for each moment we spent together, face-to-face, while she was here with me. Your time on earth is steadily ticking and one day it will come to an end as well. Choose wisely how you will spend your precious treasure of limited time. Spend it on relationships and you can be sure you will never regret it.
Written in honor of my mother, Susan Nelson, who passed away six years ago today on March 13, 2012.
Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at kingdomsparkle.com.
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