A thirty-two year old homeschool graduate who once promised her mother she didn't need to learn grammar because she'd never be an author is hopelessly a writer at heart. I'm a Christian who loves to ask thoughtful questions, and who finds thought-provoking material in unlikely sources. A lady in waiting, I'm the oldest of six children still living at home, pursuing the efficient acquisition of knowledge through books and practice.
Several summers ago, I attempted a garden. The endeavor was something I thought God
wanted me to do, though I wasn’t sure why.
I bought all these seeds and soil and planned (but didn’t study), tilled
soil, planted, watered, and never harvested a single thing. Most of it died in the July heat. Only one head out of three rows of lettuce
ever came up at all. I discovered that
oregano blooms. I’m still learning
things from the experience.
When I had my garden, I did it all by myself. I’m a naturally independent person. I have my own ideas, and I can make them
happen. But in several ways I would have
had a better garden if I hadn’t been so on my own. First, I would have read or gotten advice on
how to plan a garden. Next, I would have
asked someone else to water it for the week I was gone in July. Finally, I didn’t care. And the reason I didn’t care what happened
was because no one else cared. There was
no one else looking forward to the produce.
No one else was putting in any effort with me. No one even asked me how it was going, or
praised me for my good idea. Everyone
who knew about it just watched with amusement at my new fad project.
There’s a TV show that was made in Great Britain
decades ago called The Good Life. A
husband and wife decide to become self-sufficient without leaving their home in
the suburbs of London. Part of what makes it so exciting is that
they’re doing it together. She wants to
see his idea succeed. He wants to
impress his wife. They make a plan
together, talk about their goals and their problems and their failures. He thanks her for the hard work she puts
in. She praises him for his
I’ve coached Awana teams in games and Bible Quizzing, been a
camp counselor, gotten together to cook for people, sidewalk counseled. Those were all things in which I got the
benefit of feeling a sense of shared purpose and effort, of everyone doing
their part and experiencing the outcome together. Community is such a blessing.
Sometimes I wish I had someone full time who would notice
the work I do. I know that the Christian
ideal is to work heartily as unto the Lord.
And I can generally do that. I
just know that I do so much better when someone else is supporting me – or
criticizing me – or excited about the reason I’m doing something enough to care
whether it works out or not – and helping me evaluate or troubleshoot. I want to help other people in the same
My belief is that God made families for this purpose. And on the spiritual side, He made the church
to work together in the mission of making disciples. When this level of community happens, it’s
fun and exciting and fulfilling. Don’t
you want it, too?
– some little boys I was taking on a walk around their block
Once you give a flower pot away, it is theirs. Once you give friendship away, it is theirs. The moment is irreversible. The deed has been done.
I used to be very selfish in my friendships. I wanted people to listen to me, to entertain me, to help me not notice that I felt timid or overwhelmed. Back then, whatever I put into a friendship was seen as a necessary cost of having friends in the future. When I graduated high school, most of those friendships changed substantially. In a lot of cases, we weren’t really friends anymore. All that lost investment left me feeling disappointed, and lonely.
Some few years after that I realized that God commanded Christians to be loving to others without considering whether we get anything out of it. I had been afraid to get to know people, to give them attention and consideration, to pray for them or praise them – because what if this doesn’t last? What if they move away and we never speak again? What if they aren’t there for me when I’m having a hard time? What if that man isn’t the man I spend the rest of my life with? The answer was clear and daring: walk the line of pouring yourself into people without demands.
Give love away, and it’s theirs. The character of your friends is forever impacted by how you bless them. And at the very least, you were there to help them to survive, or excel, even if that is someone else’s role in the future.
Loss and betrayal are excruciating. And even as good friendships continue, there are some disappointments. People aren’t perfect. They will neglect you or say something harsh when you need comfort. They’ll tease you instead of teaching you. These things happen. They hurt. Pain is increased, the more of yourself you’ve given to them. You’re more vulnerable, the more they know you.
The Bible says “perfect love casts out fear.” The things to be feared are still real: pain, loss, being taken advantage of. But love says people are worth the risk. Maybe they won’t take advantage of you. Maybe they won’t move on or away or die before you. It is only a risk. Yet you’re willing, if you love someone, to lay down your life living or dying. You say that whatever you can do for them is worth more to you than protecting yourself. Being with them for this moment in friendship is more important than the things you fear.
I’m abundantly grateful God has given me friends who likewise keep on loving me. By His grace, He has made Christian community, when healthy and striving to please Him, to be mutual. My friends are merciful to me. We love being together. They do give back, encourage me, listen when I’m discouraged or self-absorbed. I do have friends who point me to truth. They invite me to invade their lives with my needs. It’s amazing.