There is a magic about summer: the smell of blooming flowers in my garden, the taste of watermelon and fresh mint, the sound of kids playing in front yards and jumping through sprinklers, and the thrill of spotting fireflies as the sun goes down. Summer is nostalgic and refreshing because it’s a season of getting out there. It’s a season of connecting and community.

And it can be a season of loneliness.

We see the kids playing together, and we crave the same playful, free, joy-filled connection with our peers.

Are you feeling it?

I am. I feel a longing for new and deeper connections.

fruitful friendship lara caseyPhoto of me and my friend Randi by Amy Nicole.

But, there are some things in the way it seems.

I’m in a season of little “extra” time and full hands. I am craving deeper friendships, but I also relish my time with Ari and the kids. So, what’s a girl to do?

I’ve been praying and thinking a lot about this, and here’s what I believe is the answer (that has me really excited, hopeful, and relieved!):

It’s not about us.

There’s someone out there that needs your friendship, more than you need hers. There’s someone out there who needs your specific story to intersect with hers. It’s not about what we need; it’s about loving others as we have been loved. Fruitful friendship is born from a connection with the Father who makes truly good fruit grow.

nrp-olivia-SWfruitfulsummer-1110My friend Tori and I last summer. Photo by Olivia from Nancy Ray Photography.

Here’s a little truth from my upcoming book, Cultivate, that will shed some light on this for us:

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Good fruit is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). But here’s the thing we often miss: a life aimed at any one of these virtues will leave you chasing your tail because seeking to obtain the fruit of the Spirit isn’t the goal. Cultivating a meaningful life with God is the goal, and the fruit is the result. In order to live a truly fruitful life, we must seek God above all else. He is the Master Gardener who makes our lives fruitful.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. —Psalm 92:12–13

Think about your life and honestly evaluate how you are spending your time, energy, and focus. Are there areas of your life or activities that you know you need to let God heal, change, or strengthen to become fruitful?

Stepping outside of our comfort zones to build meaningful connections could change not only our lives but other people’s lives too. Fruitful relationships aren’t about us; they are about something bigger than we are. The fruit of community is God Himself.

Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. —Proverbs 11:25

–Pre-order your copy of Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (releases June 27!)

cultivate-book-text-lara-casey

Want to know where to start growing fruitful friendships? Sometimes it’s less about hosting a gathering, and more about digging into what we’re wrestling with below the surface right where we are. Gathering together is important, but there’s a more powerful step that we often miss: connecting to the author of close connection and fruitful friendship–God Himself. Maybe for you, that means praying to ask for His help, forgiving someone who may be hard to forgive, saying we’re sorry, saying thank you, or taking a leap of faith to love someone in ridiculous big bold ways. For me it means, little by little, choosing God over my fruitless ways: forgiveness over bitterness, hope over despair, and imperfect over perfect. It means letting go of the friendship guilt and embracing the season I’m in.

There’s so much freedom to be found in standing on the ground we’ve been given–mess and all. And in letting others stand with us.

Broken fences

In writing this to you and letting these thoughts sink in deep, I let go of what I thought friendship had to look like. I flipped the script (and you can too). While I can’t get together with friends often, I can go deep with them when I see them, and I can pray like I would want to be prayed for. This season won’t last forever, and I’m grateful for what it’s teaching me:

Skip the fluff.

Love people right where they are, with what you have. No one needs me to be the hero of their story–they just need Him. I can give that to people.

What about you? How are you feeling about your friendships? Are you in a season of transition or restlessness too? I’d love to hear from you, right where you are.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/pursuit31film

Join us this week for the third-annual Fruitful Summer series to learn how to embrace awkward and get out there to make meaningful connections. This five-day series is packed with free downloads and tips that just might surprise you! Sign up here and get the NEW Fruitful Friendships Workbook here.

9 Show Comments
  1. Kelly

    “There’s someone out there that needs your friendship, more than you need hers. There’s someone out there who needs your specific story to intersect with hers. It’s not about what we need; it’s about loving others as we have been loved. Fruitful friendship is born from a connection with the Father who makes truly good fruit grow.”

    This right here hit me to my core. Has me rethinking how I approach friendships, and what my end goal should be, to look more like Jesus. I’m so excited for this series, and my Fruitful Friendship book arrives today! Hooray!! Thank you for continuing to do this hard work along side us, and encourage us through the journey Lara. :)

  2. Mattie

    I am so looking forward to the Fruitful Summer Series! My circle of friends has all entered a time of transition as pretty much everyone has had a baby in the last year. While it has been so fun to go through these transitions together, there has been less time for us to spend together and we are needing to be more intentional with the time we do get.
    Thanks for this!

  3. Katlin

    Such a timely word. Part of my prayers for 2017 is to cultivate meaningful, true, authentic friendships that aren’t just one of those ‘seasonal’ friendships, but a real life-long friendship. I’ve had my share of situational and seasonal friends but I have and continue to struggle to find women who are willing to be in it for the long haul. Ironically I actually printed off ALL the material from last year’s fruitful summer and gave it to my best friend as a birthday gift and asked if we could work through it together! She said absolutely…yet she never did. Ha. Ironic much?

    I think a big change happened for me when one by one my friends started getting married and having families. I’ve tried to stay connected but our lives have turned down two different paths. Their free time is during nap time on the weekdays and mine is only on the weekends. As is natural, they tend to lean towards other friends who are moms or wives, and I’m kind of left behind.
    I made a resolution to find new friends. So I’ve joined Bible studies only to feel like the outsider. I’ve joined volunteer groups at work only to feel like the whole “I-already-have-enough-friends” thing permeate the meetings. I’ve switched churches hoping to find new faces there. For some reason, I just can’t find friends who want friends. It makes you begin to wonder if something is wrong with you!! So I’d love to have a fruitful summer of friendship :)

    …and that’s the no-fluff answer to my friendship desires.

    • Lara

      I love everything you shared, Katlin! I am cheering you on as you abide in this season or craving connection. In different ways, I felt some of what you are feeling last year when we were in the thick of it with two newborns. I wanted friends. I needed friends. But I felt like no one could understand the unique circumstances (and huge challenges) I was facing. In that season, as cheesy as it may sound, I learned to rely more on God as my friend. Not in a casual friend way, but as the One I went to when everything was falling apart (which felt like every day). I often felt isolated and alone, but that season taught me where contentment comes from and that hard season prepared me for where I am now, which is kind of in between being available and not. I don’t know if this makes sense or helps, but know I’m thinking of you!

    • Katlin

      Thank you Lara for your sweet encouragement!! So timely. Just finished listening to Pastor Steven Furtick’s message about “Harvest”, very good listen and it aligns with everything God is affirming through you and CWM! :)

  4. Becky

    As someone who retired and moved away from 40 years in one place, finding new friends has been a challenge. I am finding a bigger trust in God to lead me.

  5. Ashley Ziegler

    Lara, I really needed this blog post. My schedule and my husband’s schedule crisscross and I hardly see him during the week. I started to feel very lonely and wondered where the heck are all of my friends!?? Why aren’t they asking me how I’m doing? Why do I always have to be the one to reach out or ask if they want to spend time together? Why doesn’t anyone make me feel like my friendship is WANTED.

    It’s so easy to get swallowed up in yourself, and the Adversary works really well in that aspect of my life. I miss my friends, I sure do. I get jealous when I see them spend time with other friends and that’s difficult for me. I just feel like I’m always giving and giving and I never receive anything back.

    I know that all of that is selfish thinking and I want to humble myself before the Lord, but this is something I really struggle with. And that is why I am SO grateful for your focus on friendship right now and summer goals. It’s exactly what I need right now and I know that your online presence/friendship to me is exactly what I need and what God has placed in my life at this time.

    xoxo

    • Lara

      I love all you shared – I have felt similarly. I’m grateful this has encouraged you too : )