I've been cringing whenever I find myself running extra errands on the weekends. Why? My "Fun Bucks" seem to be going more and more into my gas tank. And that's not much fun.
Everyone I know, and most folks I don't know, seem to be saying the same thing:
"Gas is so expensive!"
People everywhere have been re-evaluating their budgets to adjust to the new economy. And, sadly, relationships are suffering.
Have you noticed that your social life may be running a little empty compared to what it was just a year ago? Think about it ... A year ago, a friend might have invited you to a movie or shopping, or even doing something "touristy," and at the drop of a hat, you zoomed away in your car and had a great time being together, even if you happened to lose your direction in the process.
Now it seems that choices about which friends and relatives to visit are even coming under more careful consideration. Face-time that was limited in the past seems to be even more so now. A colleague of mine recently was invited to two events on the same day, one locally for a long-time friend, and one 70 miles away for a close family member. Last year it would have been an easy decision to go be with family. But now, as much as it broke her heart, she simply couldn't afford to be with them. What changed?
"Gas is so expensive!"
For some, even church attendance is a decision driven by whether or not you can afford the fuel. The fellowship we need the most when times are tough is ironically out of reach for some because times are tough. And I'm sure that in many churches where attendance and offerings are down, we can point to gas prices as a contributing factor.
Here are some things that we can do to help our relationships with one another thrive despite the pain at the pump:
- Carpool together when you run mundane errands. Everyone has to go grocery shopping.
- Help each other out. That's what friends are for.
- Make spending time together a priority. The writer of Hebrews tells us, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another."
- Invite your friend and his/her family over to your place for dinner. If the table isn't big enough, spread out a blanket on the living room floor and have an indoor picnic. You don't have to serve anything fancy. Just be relaxed and have a good time.
- Visit your local park. Chances are, your community has one within a short walking distance of your home. Watch the kids play on the equipment. Let them roll down a small hill. Join them. Who says kids aren't the only ones that can have fun? Besides, your kids want your presence more than your presents.
- Take turns with your friends hosting a movie or game night at home. Board games are interactive, and you may even learn something new!
- Tell stories about different ways you have experienced God's love in your life, especially to younger generations.