We live in Payson where most of the ground is decomposed granite under 12 inches of great soil. It creates a deceptive planting environment. I heard one of my friends say anyone can get something to grow in Payson, but keeping it alive is another story. I’ve given up on planting anything that I want to actually flourish. Trees, shrubs, flowers alike—all look great for awhile but then as the roots try to dig down deep into the ground, they have nowhere to go. Stifled, they begin to droop, look brown, lose leaves, and eventually die. I’ve tried to entice my husband to dig the holes a little deeper so the plants will have a bigger ‘pot’ to grown in, but he claims dynamite would be necessary. And dynamite requires all sorts of permits and insurance. Well you can probably understand why he is not real excited about that option.
Although this is the general rule, I have had the occasional plant that did make it. They usually started slow, maybe even looking dead for a year or two, but somehow they make it. But it takes years. Somehow they must be putting roots down through that granite. Payson soil is a good metaphor for a lot of relationships. Often, those relationships that take off quickly, only to fizzle just as quickly. Other relationships start slow. It seems like all we do is invest, but we don’t see results. But then one day, maybe years later, we realize that the relationship is as solid as an oak.
So if relationships don’t just happen, and dynamite (real and or figuratively) is not an option, how do we intentionally create great relationships? Lets stick with the planting metaphor and ask three questions:
v Are you fertilizing? Time is the fertilizer of relationships. It nourishes the relationship and without it, the relationship is starved and will eventually die. We need to be asking have I been intentional in making sure I am spending time with the person. Am I nourishing the relationship?
v Is there poison? No matter how good the soil is; no matter how much I water, if my husband thinks my plant is a weed and sprays it with weed killer, it is DOA. In the same way, we need to make sure no one or no situation is spraying ‘relationship killer’ on the relationship. Is there something that happened in the past or is happening right now that one of us just can’t get over? Is it causing everything in the relationship to be viewed through the lens of death? Maybe it’s not about the relationship, but something that one of us brings to the relationship. If forgiveness is needed, stay tuned for day 4.
v Is full sun too much? In Arizona, full sun will kill most plants. Sun is good, but full sun will wither the plant. Is there something in the other person’s life (past or present) that is just too much for them? Maybe ask what you would do if I do if I were in their shoes. Sometimes just the act of walking through what is going on in their lives helps us to have more empathy towards people that cause conflict in our lives. Maybe you can be the shade they need; the shade necessary for both the relationship and the other person to flourish. Galatians 6:2.
None of these suggestions guarantee instant results. In fact, the deepest relationships are the ones that take the most time and effort. May God give us the strength to fertilize, keep away from the weed killer and be the shade for others in our lives.