Aren’t seasons beautiful? Spring, winter, autumn, summer but all of them are so drastically different from one another. If you think about flowers and plants, or maybe you have a garden, there is pruning and daily tending and nurturing to be had. Things bloom and things rest, and all is entirely necessary to transition to the next season. Also a necessary step to keeping a successful garden; digging deep under the surface. Your hands will get dirty, but weeds need plucking, plants need trimming, and it’s work. Hard work.

The same goes for friendships.

Lysa TerKeurst said, “I want the equation to be: make a friend, keep a friend. Live in a blissful place of fun connection. See eye to eye. Believe the best. Get along. Be nice. Collect hilarious inside jokes along the way. And fight for each other always. That’s what I secretly hope for. But that’s not reality. Sometimes the equation is make a friend, try your best with that friend, and things go cold” (66, Uninvited).

Lately, I feel like I’ve been in a LONG season of soul searching. Something happened after I had kids. Something switched inside of me. I became Mom and my areas of focus substantially changed. Two little hearts and bodies who need me, all the time. Scheduling hangouts became necessary, and often planned around the kids’ nap and bed times. Honestly, it was terrifying to think about the kids being awake while I hung out with my friends. Noise and chaos? Who wants that when you want quality time, but that’s not realistic. My kids aren’t going to take a two plus hour nap every day, and they won’t always be starting their bedtime routine at 7:30pm. They’re going to grow up, and other people are going to have to be around them, and then what?

I went on a women’s retreat to Nashville a few months ago with my Radiant Team. I was the only mom amongst the group and as we shared our hopes and dreams, emotions swelled to the surface. It all came spilling out of me one evening, I long for a friend who wants to be amidst the crazy. Who will be there during bath time and who doesn’t mind talking over the chaos. Who sees the piles of laundry and doesn’t think, ‘Gosh this lady needs to get it TOGETHER,’ but says, ‘How can I help?’ I don’t mean to sound greedy–I really don’t. Because if there’s a lady out there who wants that from me, girl, I’m all in. I will bring my crazy children to your house to play with your crazy children and we can eat ice cream from the container and fold ALL the laundry.

Lara Casey in her ‘Fruitful Friendships’ series said, “Little by little, meaningful relationships are cultivated. One small seed planted today can grow into a towering tree years from now. The little by little adds up. If we strive for overnight results, we might miss the good fruit that waits for us in the process—the growing part.” How TRUE is this?? Deep and meaningful friendships do NOT happen overnight. They need pruning and cultivating and little by little; they can begin to grow. But what about the hurt you’ve experienced from prior friendships? Have you been there?

I never thought I would be the almost thirty-year-old (ouch) woman who suffered from heartache over past friendships. I guess I shouldn’t be TOO surprised, as I was always the sensitive girl who longed for everyone to be her best friend, but still in my adult life? There’s just some pieces (big ones) that haven’t quite healed. And when I sat in my first counseling session (yes, praise God for trained professionals to help us process!), she said, “For the next session decide what you want to focus on. Is it how to start believing that you don’t NEED people in your life that don’t help you feel complete? How to help you believe that you are the amazing woman that you?” I walked away thinking about all the things I needed to work on mentally and emotionally, not to mention spiritually and physically, and have decided that yes, that’s what I need help with the most right now.

God is trying to teach me in this season. I can feel my heart being molded; I can sense my mind and soul becoming stronger and stronger. It’s almost like HE is gardening my spirit. It’s painful, but I’m beginning to sense the freedom. There are seasons for EVERYTHING. Springtime brings lots of rain and with it, fresh and beautiful blooms. Temperatures start warming and colors burst everywhere. In the summer so many crops are grown and harvested, I think back to the blueberries I picked growing up, how they took TIME to become the beautiful and sweet berry. Cooler air comes in, and the once green leaves begin changing color. Once they fall, the trees are left bare, and the fields are vast and empty. But Winter isn’t a season of death–no, it’s a time of dormancy. Plants are busy storing their energy, preserving their nutrients, and waiting patiently to bloom again in the spring.

Do you ever feel like you are living in a cycle of lack? Like you don’t measure up? Have you taken it personally when it goes cold with your friend? All signs are pointing for me to seek God MORE. Lara says, “I am invited. Always welcome. Always loved.”

Seasons change. Friendships and relationships change. It doesn’t mean that they are dead, that you are cut off. It means you (and I) were loved for a period, and even if ended poorly, we can be grateful for the laughs and fellowship that was once had.

“Little by little, meaningful relationships are cultivated.” I’m so thankful for all the vastly different seasons of friends I have experienced. And I pray their time with me was blessed as well. For the long-lasting friends, the long-distance besties since age four, my heart will forever hold on to you. For my family and the dear sister-in-laws that I’ve been blessed to inherit, I am so fortunate. For the newer friends and Instagram friends and dear women I’ve met from this column, I appreciate you SO much.