Here's where the comparison comes to a grinding halt. As far as I can tell, it doesn't take any bravery whatsoever to be an apple. Maybe it's a little scary dangling from the tree branch, but, hey, apples don't even have feelings, much less fears.
But to be a good friend it takes a stout measure of courage. Courage is required:
- to initiate a friendship - to approach, to invite, to invite again
- to open up in a friendship - to put yourself out on a limb (well, there's that apple thing again!)
- to insist on staying on holy ground with your friendship - resisting habits like gossip, criticism, husband-bashing, whining, foul talk, etc.
- to get back on track when you do get off holy ground - and we all do!
- to end an unhealthy friendship
- to be selfless and allow your friends to have other friends
Do you have the courage to be a good friend? When we don't have the necessary courage, we forfeit quality and quantity. Not only do we not make as many friends as we possibly could, but we settle for mediocre relationships that do not enrich our lives or the lives of our friends. We pull each other down instead of lifting each other up. We hold each other back instead of compelling each other forward. We grow complacent and we stunt each other's growth in the process.
Where do you get the kind of courage needed to be a true friend? Well, pardon me from tooting the same horn over and over, but it all goes back to being a satisfied woman. When you are a satisfied woman--one who is filled to the brim with the goodness of God and the richness of His word -- then you will be fortified for true and meaningful and lasting friendship. For more on this, you might want to check out my not-so-long-ago post on What Does a Satisfied Friend Look Like?
But today I simply want to exhort you (and me) to be the kind of friend that really counts. Let's be courageous women who initiate relationships because we care and we have something to offer and they have something to offer us. Let's be courageous women who open up to at least one or two other women the Lord places in our path so that we can walk this narrow path together. Let's be courageous women who get real with a friend, asking the tough questions that keep her accountable and answering those same questions graciously and without fear. Let's be courageous women who take the high road and insist on keeping our relationships (all of them) on holy ground.
Time out. You realize I just said "all of them." Ladies, we don't need to have one or two golden delicious apple friendships only to also have a few rotten apples on the side with whom we "enjoy" the darker side of life. I know that temptation. In years past I dabbled in rotten apple friendships while trying to pick healthier choices at the same time. The truth is, that doesn't honor God and He won't honor that lifestyle. Trust me. It won't work.
So that leads to our next necessary brand of courage. Let's be courageous women who know when to end a relationship gone rotten. And let's have the courage to put the necessary boundaries in place, for our own protection and for the protection of other people in our lives.
Finally, let's be courageous women who encourage our friends toward other friends. We don't want to be wimpy, needy, selfish, clingy friends who choke out our friendships with our insecurities. That will take bravery, ladies. Bravery to trust our friends' hearts to the other people in their lives. Bravery to hold that friendship loosely in our hands, so as not to crush it or strangle it.
So today, be strong and courageous. Be a good friend.
And eat an apple while you're at it.
PS - I'd love it if you'd tell me something you've had to have courage for as a friend. We all gain a little courage from hearing others' stories, you know!
Labels: A Harvest of Friendship, courage, friendship, Trail Buddies