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.
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.
My 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:
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!)
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.
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.
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.