Sunday, January 24, 2010

Watering Friendships

I am a plant killer. I have a row of pot plants on my verandah, all filled with very dead plants. The last plant I bought, I joked to the person I was with that if plants had thoughts, they might consider being bought by me similar to a death sentence. You can almost hear them saying, ‘Pick someone else. I have a wife and family.’ And then after the plant is gone, the other plants say in hushed whispers, ‘Poor Lavender. And so young.’

I’m not quite so bad with friendships, but I’ve been known to kill a few of them too. Over-watered this one and smothered it. Under-watered this one, so that it died of neglect. I am fortunate to have some very good friends. But I think the survival of those friendships has more to do with the fact that they are hardy plants that have learnt to survive in tough conditions, rather than any proper care of them on my part.

Even though I do tend to kill almost all the plants I buy, I have managed to plant and grow two. A rose bush and a wattle tree. They’ve been going for years and are unlikely to die any time soon. Strangely enough, I probably take better care of them than I do of the new plants I buy. I guess it’s because I know they’re going to stick around. Whereas with new plants, there’s always this semi-expectation that they won’t be here for long. I feel like I shouldn’t get too attached, just in case they’re dead by the end of the season.

Friends need just as much care as plants. Too much water and they drown. Too little water and they dehydrate. It can be a hard balancing act trying to get it right. Which can be scary when you’ve seen a few friendships die from improper care, like I have. I do tend to worry occasionally whether I’m saying the wrong thing or not saying the right thing. It’s not like I live like that all the time. But there is this fear sometimes that I will kill the friendship. Especially with people that mean a lot to me.

It would be good if friends came with instructions. (Then again, plants do and I still manage to kill them.) But something along the lines of ring up once a week, meet for coffee once a month, send birthday card once a year. Remember to ask about any new developments in their life. Listen to problems carefully. Offer advice only when needed. Sprinkle liberally with laughter and tears.

Jesus’ friends didn’t always treat him the right way. Peter denied him. James and John asked for a place at his side in the kingdom of Heaven. But Jesus’ friendship remained constant. That’s something to keep in mind. Even though I may sometimes worry about my friends disappearing, I know that Jesus is not going anywhere. His love is hardier than my rose bush and wattle tree. Neglect him or deny him and he will still be there. Ask for too much and he will still be there. He’s not going to suddenly leave just because I do the wrong thing. He will never leave.

And that is very reassuring. Because I’m human. And I know there’s a good chance I will do the wrong thing. If not this very minute, then possibly in the next hour or so. It’s nice to know that whatever I do won’t suddenly kill the friendship. And it’s also nice to know there will always be someone’s love and friendship I can count on, no matter what I do. Not just for a season. Not just for a year. But always.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Bookmark and Share

Blog Patrol