Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Why I Hate the Term "Best Friend"

The Natural Desire for a Best Friend

I think people have a specific longing for a best friend. For another person we can relate to. Someone who knows our heart, our darkest secrets and brightest victories in life. Someone to help us get through life's storms. Even the most shy and introverted of us, I think if we're being honest, long for that. For most people, it's a position that cannot be filled by a spouse, parent or child. It has to be a friend.

I think the desire for a close, trusted friend is a natural longing that God wired into us.

Why I Hate the Term Best Friend

When I was growing up, whenever someone referred to their best friend, I always had a ping of jealousy. Even if it was a girl I didn't really care to know, if she referred to someone as her best friend, I felt left out. Alone. Excluded.


And I've noticed as an adult, these feelings have not gone away. Thankfully I am more aware of them and able to battle them through Scriptural prayers. But when I hear a woman refer to another as her best friend, I immediately hear, "I'm unavailable. That position has been filled in my life. No other friend will compare to her. My devotion is to her, and all my other friends come second." I mean, it is the word "best" after all. If I hear that someone has a "best" friend, I feel like I am not ever going to be considered worthy of a deep connection with this person, because their time, emotions and resources are already taken up.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm NOT saying it is wrong to use this phrase. In fact, there a several godly people in my life that I adore and respect who use this term frequently. And I do not believe they are trying to communicate any kind of message of unavailability or exclusion. And I don't believe their motives are to cause jealousy. I believe they use this phrase to build up their friend. It's a public compliment for someone that's very important to them. And honestly, it likely does mean that their best friend takes priority in their life.

But honestly, during the many seasons in my life where I lacked a close and trusted friend, it hurt me deeply to hear other people (for me, women) talk about their "best friends."


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Finding my True Best Friend

In her book, Getting to the Heart of Friendships, author Amy Baker talks about Jesus being our best friend in almost every chapter. When I first started reading the book, I thought it was super cheesy. I mean, if God created people to desire human community so deeply, why would He expect us to satisfy that desire in Him? 

But the further along I got in her book, as well as spending more quality time with God on my own, I've come to realize that God is the most real, trusted, deep and authentic friendship I have! God really is my best friend. I can't always hear him or touch him the same way I can hear and touch a person.  But He's more real than a person's voice or touch. 

Philippians 3:8 (ESV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul declared that nothing is comparable to the worth of knowing Christ! The Greek word for worth here is huperechō, meaning "to hold above, to rise above, to be superior:—...more important(1), surpasses(1), surpassing value(1)." (see source here). 

We may consider a best friend to be an important, "surpassing value" in life. From a best friendship we may desire to gain things like escape from loneliness, inside jokes, lively fun times, unforgettable moments of vulnerability, and more. But no inside joke, no fun time or vulnerable teary moment, no best friend on earth compares to the value of knowing Christ. 

Christ died on that cross and rose from the grave not only to be your Savior and Lord, but to be your most reliable friend. He's not some vague spirit you pray to but don't really understand. He's a very real, true friend. 

My Dearest Friend Here on Earth

God has been so gracious in granting me a dear friend, a person with skin that I can visibly see and whose voice I can hear, that I deeply trust and pray with on the phone several times a week. But our friendship looks so different than the friendship I'm tempted to envy. God has placed completely different callings on our lives: me to be a stay at home mom and homeschool my children, and her to be a full time working mom. On top of that, we both have lots of family close by that we're committed to seeing regularly.

Because our lives are so different, we rarely get to see each in person, hang out, or really have fun together. Despite our different schedules and calling, we are committed to our weekly phone dates to pray for and encourage each other on our separate journeys. And let me just say that our friendship didn't spark naturally overnight. It took years and a LOT of effort from both sides to get to where we are now.

Why I Still Avoid the Term Best Friend

I am making a conscious effort in my life to not use this phrase because I am painfully aware of my own sinful struggles. I know that my selfishness causes me to want other women to consider me their "one and only best friend." And I don't want to cause another beloved sister in Christ with similar struggles to mine any kind of pain or temptation of jealousy.


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