I was sipping my coffee, admiring the flowers. He was looking at me.
The roses I got for Mother’s Day were opening up beautifully, but its blossoms were starting to shed on the table. I was sitting with five year TJ, to make sure he finished the last bites of his breakfast.
“Why do flowers die?” Philosophy at seven in the morning caught me by surprise.
“What do you mean?” I answered, buying myself some time.
“There’s water in the vase. How come they’re not alive?” Okay. Science class is now in session.
As I concentrated hard to figure how best to explain biology to Mr. Curious, I took a different route.
Water keeps them alive until the flower blooms. Then, the petals fall off and they are done being flowers.
“That’s so sad.” TJ replied.
I’ve felt the same about some friendships.
I thought true friendship was forever.
I’ve asked the same “watering” questions too.
Did I not handle them with enough care — or did they outgrow me somehow?
It’s hard to trust again, after you’ve been hurt. For the longest time, it felt safer to serve others and soldier on emotionally alone.
It’s interesting the more I retreated, the more my heart ached. Although I wanted to protect myself, I longed to trust again. As I prayed for a new vision for friendship, God brought some beautiful pictures to mind.
Friendship, as I’ve come to learn, isn’t a possession.
Friendship is more like beauty found in nature.
Even If It’s Not Forever
We can appreciate friendship like we do —
A beautiful sunset.
You can never recreate the sky you once saw across the desert at twilight. You enjoy it while it lasts. These are moments where you connect with a friend, but life takes you on different paths.
A shooting star.
Some friends seem to appear out of nowhere, when it seems the lights have gone out in our lives, dark as pitch. Like a shooting star, someone offers the space to be heard, to be seen and to be known. This time together brings amazement. And then we say goodbye until the next dark night brings another ray of light.
Flowers in bloom.
Other friends are like flowers in bloom. They are the ones we can share the giggles and the sheer exhiliration of joy. They can listen for hours and find us delightful. We may not see them often, but when we do, we leave with their fragrance on our hearts.
There might be one or two evergreens that have somehow been there in the background, always standing ready to provide us protection or shade. These are our mentors, who have the ability to give by listening more than talking. But when they speak, they are choice words of wisdom.
In different circumstances or seasons, we may be blessed with one or more of these friendships.
And then, there are the everyday friendships — the kind that’s more like art.
It’s how C.S. Lewis describes friendship —
“Friendship is unnecessary… like art.
It has no survival value;
rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
~ CS Lewis
These are friends who hold our dreams, the way the stream carries spring waters. They speak gentle when we are running dry. They laugh with us when joy rises high.
The thing about friendship is this.
It can be painful to see one go. But we cannot stop risking.
Just as our souls could never grow tired hoping for sunsets, shooting stars, flowers in bloom, or art that moves us — we cannot give up on friendship.
Jesus stands by us, as our forever friend, always faithful to share beauty with us.
“I have called you friends,
for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
You did not choose Me,
but I chose you…”
~ John 15:15b-16a
When we open up to friendship, we free our hearts to connect with Christ. We are saying, I see beauty, to the other.
As my gentle-soul son sighed at my words of flowers and their end, I reached out to hold his hand, relaxed and small.
“Sweetie, Jesus made flowers to remind us… Some things are beautiful, no matter how long they last. He wants us to enjoy them while we can.” I nestled my cheek close to his, barely touching, to give him a tickle. “There will always be new flowers.” As I smiled into his trusting gaze, sunshine returned to his eyes.
Later that week, TJ brought home three stems of flowers from craft time at preschool.
“Look, Mommy!” he squealed as he thrust them with pride in front of my nose. “F-l-o-w-e-r-s!”
As I hugged and thanked him, TJ turned to say with wide-eyed excitement, “You can put them in your vase!”
Yes, son. I’ll put them in some water right now.
“Encourage each other every day while you have the opportunity…”
(God’s Word Transl.)
How has God encouraged you to enjoy friendships, even when some in the past have ended?
Where are you on the journey of friendship?
By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
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