“Yeah, maybe. Can I let you know?” Her eyes didn’t raise from her phone as she spoke.

I had barely finished inviting a girlfriend to dinner when she responded with the dreaded, “That sounds perfectly great but I don’t want to commit without knowing for sure that nothing better will come along.”

Later that day, I called another friend to confirm plans to stay with her during a visit, only to find out she made last-minute plans to visit her boyfriend instead– during the only 24 hours I would be in town.  I was beginning to feel defeated. Was I not as good of a friend to these ladies as I thought I was?  Was I just as noncommittal or wavering in my relationships and didn’t realize it?  I worried that any retort would reek of self-pity, so I withdrew, accepting the fact that I had just been bailed on for a guy.

I’ve been hearing a lot of disappointment and frustration in the voices of loved ones lately who just need someone to show up and stick to their word.  We are broken people made for relationships, and we spend our entire lives mending or further injuring one another with the way that we use our time.  We have this glorious chance to be the hands and feet of the most beautiful example of Love this world has ever known… And far too often we let the moment pass because we are consumed by what looks best on our calendar.

Where has the loyalty in friendship gone?

When we don’t show commitment to our friends, there are three potentially risky outcome:

1.  We miss out on the valuable love language of quality time.  After a number of years spent counseling couples, Gary Chapman determined that the way we receive love falls into five categories—one of which being quality time.  In a generation when unbroken attentiveness is becoming the single most valuable commodity, spending intentional and focused time with a friend is likely to communicate louder than words.

2.  We convey that the friendship is less important to us than it is to the other person.  Have you ever been in a friendship that made you feel disposable?  Pathetic?  How about a friendship that was purely conditional?  If you know what it’s like to feel like a “cheap friend” take steps to make sure you don’t make others feel the same. Invest in others. Let them know you think they are worth investing in.

3.  Our relationships simply can’t grow.  Genuine community does not remain stagnant.  Surely it has its messiness and growing pains, but honesty and commitment breed lasting, deep relationships that will keep you going when things get rough.

Ironically, in many ways social media has made it easy to pick and choose what we want to hear from others (and also reveal about ourselves). Though it is so easy to connect with literally millions, it leaves us with an “out” when it comes to dealing with anything tough, uncomfortable, or just boring.

But in reality, true community isn’t a friendship vending machine.  Having real, day-to-day relationships with others means sometimes getting your hands dirty.  A couple of months ago, my friend Branden posted the words, “’I always have time for you’ is the new ‘I love you.’”

Read that one more time.

I always have time for you.

Amazing the way that those words somehow sink into your soul a tiny bit deeper than I love you, isn’t it? Because these days, love is best expressed as undivided attention. Words are easy to give. Time often is not.

This week, commit to someone, whether it’s an hour catch-up conversation at a coffee shop, a welcomed hug, or consistent prayer over someone’s day.  The apostle Paul was on to something when he wrote to the Romans, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  Let’s let Love fuel our relationships and not be driven by our schedules. By doing so, we may just help to mend someone’s heart with our time.

Shannon Douglas

Born and raised in Southern California, Shannon is now the Communications Director for South Hills Church. She enjoys storytelling, styling events, strategizing for organizations, and going to Disneyland. Read more about Shannon in the "Our Team" section of She Has Worth.

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