Planting Seeds that Nurture Deep Friendships | January 23rd, 2017
“Would you like to meet me for coffee this week?”
I cannot tell you how much it means to me to hear those words from a friend. To be offered someone’s precious time, along with the authentic desire for us to get to know each other more deeply, is one of the best gifts I could ever receive. In a hurried world of tight schedules with little or no margin, a person’s time is truly a gift, especially when it results in a richer, more meaningful friendship.
The friends you have had throughout your life helped shape you into who you are today. You learn things along the way from every friend. They tell you the truth about yourself. They inspire and encourage you to reach your goals and sharpen your mind. They keep you from feeling lonely, discouraged, and depressed. And the best part of all, they can help you live a longer, healthier life.
Garnets and Pomegranates
January’s birthstone is the beautiful, deep red garnet belonging to the isometric crystal class which produces symmetrical, cube-shaped crystals. Garnet can be found in granite and volcanic rocks that form deep underground enduring extreme temperatures and pressures.
The name garnet comes from the Latin word garanatus which means “seed-like.” Garnets look much like the red seeds you find inside of a pomegranate.
When used in making jewelry, garnets are traditionally arranged close together, resembling what you see when you break open a pomegranate. This beautiful Bohemian garnet pin from the Victorian era (the late 1800s) which I repurposed into a ring is a perfect example:
The Health Benefits of Pomegranate Seeds
The juicy, tart seeds of a pomegranate are considered a “superfood” meaning they have numerous health benefits because they are nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants.
According to the research…
- They decrease inflammation. The antioxidants in pomegranate seeds act as anti-inflammatory agents in the body, helping to reduce joint pain in those who suffer from arthritis. They also benefit the heart by lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow in the arteries by slowing and even reversing the growth of plaque formation.
- They fight cancer. Pomegranate seeds are a potent cancer-fighting food with multiple studies showing that pomegranate extracts inhibit the rapid reproduction of breast cancer cells by inducing cell death.
- They improve memory. A study of elderly people who drank pomegranate juice (made from pomegranate seeds) had significantly improved verbal and visual memory by increasing blood flow to critical regions of the brain.
You will never find a pomegranate with only one seed in it. Each pomegranate can hold over 600 seeds! The health benefits result from eating many seeds, not just one.
The Health Benefits of Friendships
Just as pomegranate seeds can provide amazing health benefits, planting many seeds that nurture a friendship will also offer an advantage to your health and longevity.
According to the research…
- They motivate you to reach your health and fitness goals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, improve your diet, give up smoking or other unhealthy habits, a friend’s encouragement can boost your willpower, increasing your chances of success.
- They reduce your stress and depression. Having an active social life reduces isolation which is a huge contributing factor to depression. A good friendship is a great antidepressant! Friends also help to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- They improve your mood. Spending time with cheerful, positive, and upbeat friends can elevate your mood and boost your whole outlook on life.
The Bible also talks about the value of friendships…
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
When you have a good friend, you can enjoy each other’s company and conversation. You are there to bear each other’s burdens and lovingly serve, sharpen, encourage, strengthen, and comfort one another.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Other words for unreliable include undependable, untrustworthy, fickle, and fair-weather. It is not easy to find a reliable friend whom you can truly count on. But when you do, be sure to plant plenty of seeds to nurture that valuable friendship.
Three Seeds to Be Sure to Plant
1. Plant the seed of EFFORT. Make an effort to reach out to your friend for one-on-one time. Ask them to meet you for coffee or a meal. Invite them to attend an event with you that you know you both would enjoy. Pick up the phone and call them to hear their voice. It is much more personal than a text or an email. Without effort, your friend will simply become just another acquaintance. Spending quality time together greatly strengthens a relationship.
2. Plant the seed of OPENNESS. Be willing to share your life with your friend. What are you passionate about? What difficulties are you going through right now where you could use encouragement? If you only talk about surface subjects like the weather, sports, or the latest fashions, your friendship will never be able to progress toward intimacy. Share from the heart. And when your friend opens up and shares deeply with you, be sure you are fully present and a good listener.
3. Plant the seed of DEPENDABILITY. Be the kind of friend someone can count on to be there for them. If you are not dependable, your friendship will never last. A dependable friend is trustworthy, on time, and keeps their promises, doing exactly what they say they will do.
Every time I wear my garnet ring, I am reminded to plant many seeds to nurture my friendships, especially those who are supportive, trustworthy, and reliable, and to eat plenty of pomegranate seeds for a long and healthy life!
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Ask God to reveal those friendships in your life that you should spend more time nurturing.
Sparkler #2: Action
Regularly plant the seeds of effort, openness, and dependability with the friends you desire to go deeper in your relationship.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Invite a friend this week to spend some one-on-one time with you, perhaps over coffee or a meal, where you can be face-to-face and able to listen intently to each other for a richer, more meaningful relationship.
*Opened pomegranate – photo credit: Anton Croos; Art of Photography
Read more articles in » Spiritual Sparkle