Almost every day, I carefully inspect my roommate’s plants. They are vibrant, full of life, taunting me with their personality and color. Meanwhile, my sad little aloe vera plant has hardly grown in all the time I’ve known and loved it.
My roommate is so faithful with her little plants.
She knows what each of them needs and (unlike me) never seems to fail to water her plants. She especially gathers rainwater—the plant version of organic food (I think)—to nourish them while my little plant has to do with regular tap water and has barely seen sunlight since I first got it.
She tends to her different plants in different ways, tending to their individualized needs. I tend to all of mine basically in the same way—water them when I remember.
I clearly don’t have a green thumb. I rarely own plants or flowers, and I know it’s just a matter of time before I kill the poor ones that end up under my ministration.
My intentions are pure, but before long, days go by and I forget to water them. In addition, I have not the slightest clue as to what each plant needs (I have a total of two, and two bouquets of dead dried flowers).
Sun or shade?
An ice cube a week or a little water each day?
Fertilizer or not?
I honestly don’t know.
Because I don’t tend to my plants and don’t nurture them, they fail to flourish.
And so it is with friendship.
This is what C.S. Lewis has to say about Christian friendship in his book The Four Loves:
“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say to every group of Christian friends, ‘Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.'”
The people that come into our lives are not random, and the friends we end up living life alongside have been brought purposefully into our lives by the author of life. And while God arranges these friendships, we are responsible for tending to them.
We all desire close friendships with others. We long to have people we can count on, who know and understand us. And every one of us needs people who will stick by our side through the ups and downs of life.
But these kinds of friendships
don’t blossom overnight.
They may start with a small thing that both parties have in common, but they won’t develop into something deeper if both people aren’t intentional to see that it does.
Just as a plant won’t thrive without water, sunlight, and good soil, a friendship will not thrive if left on its own.
A strong, healthy friendship won’t develop between two people who don’t make time for each other. We can’t expect a friend to be there for us when we’re going through something if they don’t know what’s going on in our life. We shouldn’t expect a friend to share their hopes and dreams, their struggles and temptations, and their joys and laughter with us if we’ve never shared ours with them.
Is there someone in your life
you’d like to know better?
Invite them out for coffee or to your home for a meal. Perhaps read a book together and talk about it. Pray with and for one another. Share about your life, not just the surface areas of your life, but your struggles and the things that are buried deep inside your heart.
When we hear that others battle against sin and temptation, that other people have been wounded and hurt by life’s sorrows, that other people have broken dreams, we realize we are not alone. We forget so easily that no one has it all together, and that everyone is battling something in their life. When we share those things with one another, our sorrows are shared and our burdens become lighter.
Deep friendships take time and are often built up through the fires of trial and suffering.
Just like tending a plant is messy at times, friendships can be too. We may have to sacrifice time, hear hard stories, and have to walk with friends through the valley experiences of their lives.
But as we take that time to walk with them through their trials, we prove ourselves trustworthy. As we remind them of their hope in Christ and speak the gospel to them, we lift them up and encourage them in the faith.
And that season of sharing in another person’s pain will bear rich fruit. We’ll learn more about the other person in that season than in any other and they’ll learn more about us. Over time, we’ll each turn to the other to share in our mutual joys and heartaches. We’ll look back over the years of that friendship and realize we have a dear friend in Christ.
Over the years, I’ve met so many people that are lonely for close friendships.
We all need friends who know and accept us. And to share in the joys and heartaches of life.
Those friendships exist. God created them for us.
We just have to nurture them, tend to them,
give them what they need, and devote time to them.
Soon enough, they’ll start to grow and flourish.
Like my roommate’s plants.