Monday, November 2, 2009

Cultivating friendships

If you know anything about me, you know that I highly value friendship.  I plant seeds of friendship, I nurture them when they begin to grow, I grieve them when they are wounded or when they die.  I'm not afraid, however, to cultivate my garden of friendships and weed-out those that are unhealthy. A recurring theme you'll hear from me is this:  You and I are made for relationship with God and with others.

The soil of our lives is capable of maintaining multiple, healthy relationships.  When I plant too many seeds in a vegetable garden, they all may sprout but none will flourish because they're too crowded and are competing for space, sunlight, and nourishment.  Likewise, my garden of friendship must be planted and cultivated judiciously so that each friendship has all the resources from me needed to grow into all that it can be.

Like vegetables in the garden, friendships are susceptible to disease or pests. Friendships must be guarded and protected from things and people that would harm them.  I can't simply sow seeds, leave them untended and expect to reap a harvest.  More than anything else, friendships require time, my time.  But healthy friendships also require that both parties make substantial investments.  One-sided friendships, where only one party makes the investment, are the ones that I'm most likely to weed out of my garden.

If I plant crabgrass seed, I can't expect centipede grass to grow from that seed.  Likewise, I must be discerning about the seeds that I cultivate.  Unhealthy relationships will come from unhealthy seeds.  Does this mean that I only befriend those that I consider to be worthy or flawless?  Of course not!  The Bible tells us that none of us are worthy, all of us fall short of God's standard.  Who was it that Jesus befriended?  He invested himself in tax collectors, prostitutes, and commoners, among others.  He modeled for us the importance of rubbing shoulders with every type of person but at the same time, he focused his time and attention on those who heard and believed, the good seed, so to speak.

Who are the people into whom you are investing your resources?  Who is investing themselves in you?  Are these they kinds of relationships that will bear healthy fruit? 

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