I have really been reflecting on what it means to have and be a good, genuine friend. I feel it is an area that I fall short in for many reasons. I have a difficult time pouring my heart out to people and letting them in. I can be guarded but I am taking time lately to re-examine the jaded lines of my heart. I do not have a difficult time or hesitate in admitting that my husband is my very best friend, for good reason.
He knows when something is bothering me, but approaches me with compassion. He loves me despite my many, MANY flaws and insecurities. He lets me dream big and tells me that he believes in me while approaching my “out there” dreams with appropriate questions to make me think through what I’m saying (I mean can I really create a pinesol candle line or start a vacuuming competition? Not my best ideas). He has been down in the trenches with me, with water up to our necks, yet we somehow stayed afloat together. He has pulled me “out of the water” when I felt as if I was drowning numerous times. He reminds me to trust God and turn to God when I am questioning things. He is very quick to remind me that God will equip us to follow the passions and callings He has placed in our hearts. He is a Redwood Tree friend.
Did you know that Redwood Trees are called “Super Trees” and can grow to be the tallest trees on earth? IF we let them.
In a church service I attended, the pastor showed a poetry video by Hosanna on Redwood Trees and it really spoke to my heart. Please watch it here, I promise it’s worth your time.
Here are three simple lessons on relationships that Redwood Trees can teach us and are currently teaching me:
1. Redwoods are not easily taken by fires and storms.
They are fierce, strong, and resilient.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of friend/person who does not turn and run away at the first sign of hardship and fierce waters – whether it be with that friend or when they are facing obstacles and hardships. I want to put on my life jacket, ready to tackle the ferocious waves together. I want to learn to embrace others in a Christ-like manner when they are facing hardships. I want my arms wide open as someone who is dependable and genuine. Someone who can say the difficult stuff, if needed, but in a loving way that doesn’t add weight to the load of already heavy burdens. Someone who doesn’t run and hide when my friend is in trouble or angst, but someone who is willing to pray for, encourage, and be there to extend my hand when my friend feels like they are drowning.
2. Redwoods are BETTER TOGETHER.
I was recently reminded by my Pastor that Jesus was passionate about people. Sometimes I find myself wanting to hibernate when I am facing a crisis or dealing with frustrating emotions instead of talking to Jesus and my close friends (mostly family). To be that kind of friend to someone else, I also need to apply it to my own life to really understand what it means. And what’s that thing about practicing what you preach? Ugh, oh yeah …
Redwood Trees are stronger because their roots are intertwined. It’s what helps them grow taller and stand stronger.
What if we practice this in our relationships as well?
What if we admit when we are drowning?
What if we are honest about our struggles?
What if we ask our friends to pray for us?
What if we take time to pray for our friends and ask them how they are doing (and mean it)?
What if we forget trying to “look perfect” and aim for authenticity instead?
What if we let our roots live up to their full potential by uniting as a body of believers? Proverbs 17:17 reminds us that “Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.”
3. Realize healthy relationships start in our own hearts.
Just as Redwoods let their roots intertwine for strength, we must let our own hearts do the same. It’s ok to admit when we need help. To feel.
In Janell Rardon’s book, “Overcoming Hurtful Words,” she says, “Not literally, of course, but my unhealthy, people-pleasing, approval-addicted, applause-hungry self, needed to die in order for my healthy, God-created identity and capacity to flourish.”
To flourish in our relationships and friendships, we must realize that our own hearts need to be healthy.
Think in terms of a Redwood Tree — how are your relationships? Are you living in a state of desiring approval and applause? Or, are you aiming to let God do the mending, pruning, and blooming?
Are you intertwined with other roots, ready to withstand the storms and fires of life?