This year has been such a wonderful year of connections and opportunities; I feel so very blessed. One of the reasons is because of the relationships I’ve formed; the friendships I’ve made along the way, the ones that have encouraged me and empowered me to be my best self and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. For some women, it can be difficult to create long-lasting relationships with other women because of competition or trust issues or a whole list of other things. However, my faith in friendships has been renewed over the past year for many reasons. One reason is because of a women’s conference I attended for the past two years, where over 700 women came together to share their heart for God. What an incredible experience spending the weekend with women I had never met before, women from all over the world, who felt compelled to lift me up and encourage me beyond anything I could have imagined, as we shared the calling God had on our life. Another reason my faith in friendships has been renewed, is because of the relationships I’ve lost; which may seem a little strange. Some I’ve lost because they went to spend eternity with Jesus, and others I stepped away from because they chose to go a different path on the journey. In reality, there are times when there may be discord in a Relationship, or times when someone is not supporting the calling God has for you; that can be tough and it can be painful. However, God allows people to come and go in our life and during this season, it’s a good time to ask for clarity on what this means for us in our journey. The bible shares that to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV). For me, these times have been times of transition, and I have grown and learned something from each experience; good and not so good. So, now let’s talk about Friendship. And let’s celebrate it! I have written and spoken on the topic of friendship many times over the years because I enjoy sharing my journey and hearing about how lives are touched in these relationships. I chose the title The Garden of Friendship because I can picture life blossoming, growing and many things unexpected in the every day. I see it as a wonderful blend of character, attitude, humor, diversity, relationships with others and with God. Isaiah 58:11 (NKJV), 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 women have friends they can count on day or night, some have friends they can count on only when it fits “just right” into their busy schedule. Some have friends that respect them whether they agree with all their decisions or not, and some have friends that are not open to exploring other opinions or positions. Some have friends that have their back through thick and thin, but will still be open and honest when the time comes. And some have friends that are there only for a season to teach and for you to learn. 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 always align with words and actions that please God. I have a friend who can be very sweet at times, but is very passive aggressive. When I’m around her I always feel the need to defend myself, and I don’t feel very good after our time together. But I have other friends who have a gentle spirit and speak kind words. They share the hope of Christ and pray with me in the good times and the not so good. It’s not hard to guess, but I spend most of my time with the friends that nurture me and our friendship. What kind of friends do you have surrounding you? And what kind of friend would someone say you are? This garden of friendship, with all of it’s evolution…butterflies, bees, plants and flowers; what can be done to water this garden, make it prosper and create amazing, supportive, lasting friendships that please God? The good news is that God is in charge and will send people into our lives that show His love to us when we need it the most. He created us and knows our heart. He also created that friend and hears our prayer to be encouraged, nurtured and loved. His desire is for us to be cherished. Good and Godly relationships honor Him. He wants us to be just as amazing with others as we want them to be with us. We don’t have to be around those who take away 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. He has given us one another to bear each other’s burdens and to walk alongside one another in our every day. Come on this journey with me. Let’s build solid friendships…let’s plant our garden! How does a flower or a plant grow? We first need a seed which starts with you (and that potential friend). Then we need water, which is love. We need a few vitamins, which are encouragement, respect, and grace among other things. And sunlight, which is Jesus. And then it blossoms! Your friendship. As women, I challenge each and every one of you to grow together. There is no doubt, however that in the midst of all of this growing, we must also guard our heart. The wrong kinds of friends offer destruction and even distraction, the right ones offer fulfillment and will continue to 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 wilt. So, what does your garden of friendship look like? Who can you trust? Who would know when your world was falling apart? Who would step in when you’re about to make a big mistake? Who would be real and authentic with you? Who would encourage you with the hope of Christ? Everyone needs at least one friend they can pick from the garden. Does your garden need water to grow, vitamins to make it strong, or a little sunshine? I welcome you into my garden, will you welcome me into yours?
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