A relationship won't flourish on its own, but it most certainly will remain stagnant with no input. To me, a relationship is like a plant. It's not the perfect analogy but there are some similarities.
When you take a potted plant or a seed and you place it in the soil, your goal is to see that plant grow and flourish. Therefore, you make every effort to ensure that the plant has everything it needs for growth. The soil needs to be good soil so that the plant can take. Location and climate are also factors - you definitely need the sun and moderate temperatures.
But if you have all of this but you never water or weed or fertilize - guess what happens to your plant? Not much (unless it's a plant that requires minimal intervention), but even then it still won't flourish. My mother in law loves orchids, so being influenced by this love I recently bought my first orchid. I learned from the vendor that this beauty only needs to be watered once a week. I couldn't believe it, but it has turned out to be true. Even though an orchid is a low maintenance plant, I still need to do my part.
Just like relationships a plant truly thrives when you take the time to nurture it - water it on schedule as needed, trim leaves as needed, remove weeds as needed, and add fertilizer if necessary.
When I did this my plants thrived; when I didn't they were lackluster.
This all reminds me of the Biblical principal of reaping what we sow. In our relationships, we get out proportional to what we put in.
Let's take time to tend the relationships in our lives:
Provide the right climate where they can thrive - initially, determine if you have similar values. You don't have to be at the same place in life but it is helpful if your value systems are in alignment. As an example, when I was younger I had a friend who had an interesting way of thinking about life - nothing mattered. While not being preachy I'm sure I tried to counter her views whenever I can; she was not open to it at that point in time so eventually our paths diverged. In my marriage, my husband and I have very similar values and that has made all the difference in the world.
Water and nurture - implies that you put in effort on a regular basis. Therefore, always be ready to listen; be there as much as humanly possible; disagree amicably; and be kind to each other.
Remove weeds - sometimes differences occur; don't nurse hurts but do your best to address and deal with it. In the best of relationships, there will be disagreements and hurt feelings because we are humans and not immune to bad behavior.
Fertilize - enjoy each other's company; do things "just because", laugh and hug and always listen; don't betray a confidence.
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 2 Corinthians 9:6 [NLT]
Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end. Proverbs 22:8 [NLT]
7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:7-9 [NLT]
Plant your relationships in the soil of love and respect and be intentional about nurturing the relationships in your life. Some of us are like orchids and some of us need daily attention like roses; may the people in our lives give us the attention we need and may we do the same for the relationships in our lives.
Are you nurturing your relationships?