I was in fourth grade when I first asked a girl to be my “best friend.” We were in the same class and both played alto saxophone in the school band.
It was meant to be.
I passed her a note asking the ever-important question and she responded with words that I still remember clearly to this day.
I already have a best friend.
Boom. Ouch. Rejected.
Somehow in our 9 years of life, she had already found her bestie. And although we went on to be great friends for the next five years or so, I never forgot that I was her second choice when inviting someone to hang out with after school, or go to the movies, or sleep over.
Almost 20 years later and I still don’t have a best friend. But now by choice.
Best friends are exclusive.
Everyone wants a friend they can count on to be there through everything. The good, the bad, the fun, the sad. We want to (and should!) be able to share those moments with someone. However, when we only share these moments with one person in our lives we are, intentionally or not, excluding everyone else.
You’ve heard the saying, “Not everyone is going to be your best friend,” and it’s true, you will connect more with some people than others. But allowing yourself to make more than one close friendship is not only encouraging, it’s healthy.
I have several close friends. All bring their unique perspectives, encouraging words and wisdom to my life. I have some friends I talk to about music, some about marriage, some about motherhood and with most, we talk about Jesus. I love them all. And on some days I need more of one than the other.
If I limited myself to receiving all I need from a friendship with one person – that wouldn’t benefit me or them. It excludes me from allowing other voices to speak into my life, not to mention it puts unnecessary expectations on that one person.
But I do have other friends that speak into my life, I just have one friend that I feel closer to… you may be thinking.
It is natural to have friends that we are closer to during different seasons of our life. It’s also natural to have those friends who are always friends no matter the season, nor the distance between us.
I know for me, personally, having moved a lot in the past eight years… it’s been hard to maintain every close friendship I’ve made. I usually keep up with one or two from the places I’ve lived. If every time I moved I went into a new relationship talking about my “best friend,” I have a feeling this would hinder me from making any other deep friendships.
I know, because I’ve been on the other side of this often.
Telling me about your best friend on our first lunch date or how you and your best friend did this or that… basically lets me know that there’s a limit on how close we can get.
It’s like my 4th grade self reappears and reminds me that I’ll always be second best, at the most.
Friendships shouldn’t be ranked. They should be horizontal lines that draw us closer or further away from Jesus. And the best friendships aren’t strategic or self-seeking, they are spontaneous and timely gifts from God exactly when we need them.
I have come a long way since my elementary school days, when I thought I needed someone to tell my secrets to, and discuss boys and go through awkward stages with. I’ve realized that those friends exist plurally, and the only way to make them is by being the kind of person who shows love unconditionally, to anyone, without favoritism.
And if there ever comes a time when I do need that one friend to be there for me when everyone else fails… I know ultimately I’ve found one in Jesus.