September 6, 2015

The Garden of Friendship

My last blog was about friendship so I wanted to continue the theme for another few weeks.  This week I want to talk about the Garden of Friendship.  I was asked to speak during a Sunday morning service last year about women’s ministry, friendship and relationships among women.  Preparing the message was interesting and a little uncomfortable at times, but I knew that it was something I needed to journey through.  So, I want to share some of those thoughts with you.    

So, what is the garden of friendship?  I see it as a combo of attitudes, characteristics, senses of humor, diversity, and relationships with others as well as with God.  Isaiah 5:11, says:

The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Some people have friends that they can count on day or night, some have friends that they can only count on when it benefits the friend.  Some have friends that respect them whether they agree with all their decisions or not, and some have friends that have their back but will still be open and honest with them.  Some have friends where they have been so transparent in hopes of that being reciprocated, only to discover they have known that other person for years and never really knew them.  All in all, and regardless of which friends you have or what kind of friend you are, friendships like many of the relationships in our life should agree with what God says they should be. 

I have a friend who can be just the sweetest person, but is very passive aggressive.  When I’m around her, I get out of character and begin to “jab” like she does and I don’t feel very good afterwards.  I had a friend who is now seen as an acquaintance in my eyes because of her negative spirit, never smiling and always such a downer…that’s exhausting too. What kind of friends do you have and what kind of friend are you?

So, what can be done to water this garden and create amazing, supportive, lasting friendships that pleases God? 

The good news is that God will send people into our lives that show His love to us when we need it the most.  We don’t have to be around those who take every ounce of our patience, energy and delight; we can surround ourselves with those who show grace and love and genuine friendship.  So, what's the plan?  The plan is to not walk this journey alone.  We need God, but He has also given us one another to bear burdens and to help each other along the way.  Come on this journey with me.  Let’s build some solid friendships…the garden!

How does a flower or a plant grow?
   Seed = which is you and your friend
   Water = love
   Vitamins = encouragement
   Sunlight = Jesus
   Blossoms = flower

As women, I challenge each and every one of you to grow together.  There is so much in store for us if we get that concept down first.  Grow together in Christ!   However, there is no doubt in the midst of all of this growing, we must also guard our heart.  The wrong kinds of friends offer destruction, the right ones offer fulfillment and will point you to God.  So as we live and grow, we are able to determine with God’s direction what to plant in the garden, what will flourish and what will not.  So….friendships today.   How do we define it so to speak?  Who would know when your world was falling apart?  Who would step in when you’re about to make a huge mistake?  Who would encourage you with the hope we have in Christ?

Who can be real and authentic with you? And you can be real and authentic with them? Because a lot of times we wear masks and no one can tell what’s really going on, but there may be that ONE person we can let it all hang out with.  Everyone needs at least one!

So…do you feel that you can be transparent with your friends?  Do you feel that you can trust them not to tell anyone, when you say “don’t tell anyone”?  Do you feel supported?  Is there a time when you have to just vent and let it out and they listen, yet pour back into you so much so that when you depart you are full of joy once again?

I will share part two of this 2 part series next week, which will focus on fellowship.  But in the meantime, think about what you are doing to help your friendships grow.  Do you need to cut them down?  Do you need a little fertilizer and water and sunshine?  How are you pouring into others to nurture your relationships?  And what’s being poured into you?  So, what does your garden really look like?

And these wonderful pictures are courtesy of a dear friend, J.H.  

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