***WARNING*** I know nothing about trees, but hopefully – you get the point of this message.
Recently, I had a friend come up to me with an issue. She was feeling insecure about a friendship and didn’t know if there was any way that it could be fixed. She looked at her friendship with me and knew that we are good friends, best of friends that would stay together till we get old and ripe and die. And it got me thinking of an analogy to put into perspective.
I told her that not all friendships are the same, and you should never compare. It gets hard to not compare friendships or people because we all have an origin point that we stem from. But not every relationship is the same. I told her “friendships are like trees. Plain and simple. I know it sounds cheesy, but hear me out. If you have a friend that you communicate every day with then you are watering the tree every day. If you give your wisdom or advice to them you are giving your sunlight, and if you love them and uplift them, you are providing the rich soil to help them grow. Friendship is not a one-sided thing. If you’re putting in all the work the tree is going to die.”
She understood the analogy and agreed with what I was saying. She had it all figured out that she was the one that was taking care of the tree and doing all the work for it, while the other person just sat there and let the tree die. “If only it were that simple. Have you ever overwatered a tree, or put the wrong plant in the sunlight? You first need to identify what type of tree your friendship is. Some trees need constant water and sunlight to grow and some can do just fine without any water at all. In our relationship, we are like a palm tree. We constantly fill each other up with water, our soil is nice and rich because of time, and we provide plenty of sunlight for each other. So, we grow nice and tall and we can weather any storm. Whereas your relationship with this other person, just might be a cactus.” She started laughing and said that that was mean. But in all actuality, I was being serious, and she couldn’t believe that she wasn’t seeing her friendship for what it was. “It could very well be a cactus. From knowing the two of you, you both love each other very much and you provide each other with support, but it doesn’t need constant watering. It will take actions as its nutrients, not words, and sometimes it needs to grow on its own in the soil that it’s given.” She was in disbelief that she was overwatering a tree that didn’t need that much water. She agreed that it made total sense. And she asked me how I would know what kind of tree other friendships are.
To be completely honest. I have no idea. It’s a trial and error type of thing. Where you find out what works, take a mental note, and then try not to do it again. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had my fair share of friends that wanted nothing to do with me, but that’s because it was their fault. I’m perfect. Just kidding. It was mainly because my cancerous heart kept getting in the way and I wanted people to treat me and care for me the same way that I cared for them. But that’s the thing. As humans, with poor perceptions, it’s hard for us to know what love language is being poured out to us.
For instance, one of my wisest friends put a Twitter thread saying “We project the love we desire. When others don’t love like we do. We assume they don’t.” To a point it is true! I am a huge believer in the fact that we each have different forms of “Love Languages”
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
But I am also a believer in the fact that what our output is, may not be similar to what our input is. I remember a while ago my LL was giving gifts and that’s how I showed I cared. But when someone gave me gifts, I felt uncomfortable and deep down all I wanted was Quality Time. My output was giving gifts and my input was quality time. So when it comes to figuring out what works best for you and your friend, try them all out or simply ask. My friend that tweeted knew what her receiving LL was, and she knew that if she wasn’t getting it in her relationship it wasn’t a relationship she wanted to be in.
“Either way a good partner will take the time to learn how you need to be loved and demonstrate it in a way that’s satisfying.” I told her “If they don’t. Have a conversation. If still nothing. #pruningseason”
Just like trees we go through seasons of friendships. AND THAT’S COMPLETELY OKAY. Let’s get some church up in here. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” The Good Lordt said it. It’s plucking season for those that are a poison unto you. And you have to have some self-love to know who’s worth plucking and who’s worth tending.
Now I have a friend that was a budding new tree. We kicked it off right away and formed a friendship really quick. We were providing each other sunlight, giving each other plenty of water, but we didn’t have good soil. The tree was growing, but not in the way that either of us was expecting. I was looking at the progress of the tree and thinking “Wow! Look at how high we’ve grown from the time that we started.” And the other was thinking “it’s not that big, I could kick it over if I wanted to.” And unfortunately, we weren’t seeing the same tree. The trees that I like to grow and foster are the ones that provide fruit so that other people can enjoy the blessings and know that we could find together. And what I grew instead was a tree that had a virus. A virus can come from multiple things: a bad thought, a wrong perception, a miscommunication/representation. And guess what happened to our tree. It started to get sick. I’m not one to give up so easily, so I thought I could remedy the situation by providing extra sunlight and extra water for the both of us. But the tree started to grow thorns and prick back both of us. Until it became too late and both were stung.
Now, there’s some positivity here. Just because a tree is sick doesn’t mean it can’t get nursed back to health. If you could find the virus and address it, you’ll be able to continue growing. Sometimes you need to remove the rocks from the soil in order for the roots to sink in. But if you can’t find the source to that issue be very careful. Because that infected tree can start draining all your resources and your sunlight may start to get cloudy. I didn’t realize that this is what was happening – until it was too late, and then I felt the swing of an ax
There are times in a friendship that we will say things that are not right, but when you see that the person is trying to get out of the friendship, or just wants to bring you down, it feels like a swing of an ax on your tree. And when I felt that swing, it hurt. And in that case, you just need to let that tree go. It is going to feel awful and some people will keep watering a dead tree. But at the end of the day, it’s something that may not come back and your water needs to be given elsewhere. So that something new can bloom! But, and this is where maturity plays in, still keep the love. We are called to love each other. Just know that your tending needs to go elsewhere. Just don’t give it to something that is not there.
Once you take a step back and start to exam your life and your friendships, you’ll start to see the beautiful garden you’ve grown. Some people have a couple strong and tall trees with a couple smaller trees, and others have a mini forest. It doesn’t matter what the size of your garden is, as long as your healthy trees are growing strong. Appreciate what you have and enjoy in the bounty that your trees will harvest. Because it’s worth it.
What tree are we? The low-maintenance Catus? or the Thirsty Palmtree? Comment below!