Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Words I'll Never Use In Friendship Again

I don't love the phrase best friend.

I loathe it actually.  And not just the phrase best friend but really, any words that associate with it.

Bestie. BFF. Best Mate. Sista' From Another Mista'.  I want to do away with them all. 

Now, before you begin to pelt your computer screen with all of the pink and red Valentine's M & M's that you've been hoarding for your toddler's nap time, please just hear me out. 

Last year my daughter started Kindergarten.  Now, for anyone who has ever met Mack, you know that the girl is special.  And not like, eat paste, type special.  Mackenzie loves people.  She's got a huge heart and she's uniquely compassionate for a 6-year-old. 

At Mackenzie's Kindergarten orientation she met a little girl who I'll call Olivia.  Now, Olivia was a flippin' mess that night -- crying big, ugly tears.  We encouraged Mackenzie to make a new friend. We coaxed her to talk Olivia and to tell her that it was okay to be a little scared.

Three days later, Mackenzie and Olivia walked into school hand in hand for their first day of Kindergarten.  Not a tear in sight.  It was one of my proudest momma moments to date.  In Mackenzie's mind, that moment sealed the deal for something special.  Olivia was it.  Her very best friend. And there wasn't a darn thing you were going to say to change her mind. 
That was September.  By October the drama had begun.  Mackenzie would come home from school in tears every other day with stories of how Olivia would say she was her best friend but then refuse to sit with her at lunch.  Or, Olivia would play with her at recess but then brag about having another friend over for a playdate.  Every day it was something new. 

Now, please hear me -- I don't for one second believe my daughter is perfect.  We have had our fair share of conversations about how to treat our friends right. Mackenzie is still learning, as am I.

What finally did it for me was the day that Mackenzie climbed into the car after school and through crocodile tears she asked, "Momma, why doesn't she love me?  She was suppose to be my best friend."  My momma heart just broke into a thousand pieces.  My girl.  My beautiful, funny, smart, kind and compassionate girl, was questioning her value and worth as a friend. 

The phrase Best Friend is a powerful one.  There's a whole lot of weight packed into two small words. 

To the person you are calling your best friend, there's a lot of pressure to live up to the meaning.  To be the bestThe one who won't let down and won't hurt you.  The one who will have your back no matter what.  The one who is better than all other friends.

For your friends who haven't attained best friend status, these words are a breeding ground for insecurity and for not feeling good enough.  To know there's a best friend card on the table but that you haven't quite earned it. Good heavens, ouch!

Earlier this year I attended an event with a group of friends.  It was a fantastic weekend complete with one of those photo props that came with the goofy hats and feather boas for posing.  Two friends in particular claimed bestie status from the start of the event.  And to be frankly honest, they made the picture taking part of the weekend incredibly awkward.  What was suppose to be fun and carefree turned into an exclusivity party. 

While I stood back with several newer friends, these two girls repeatedly asked others to take their picture while they did the whole, "Say cheese!" thing. Only, they replaced "cheese" with "bestie". 

So, "Say Bestie!"  Weird, I know.

That was the weekend I decided that I will officially never use the phrase best friends again.  And as a momma, I will encourage my daughter to steer clear from this phrase as well in her friendships.

Now, I would be bold faced lying if I said that all friendships are equal.  Not all friendships are equal.  There, I said it.  I just don't quite understand the benefit of shouting friendship inequality from the rooftops.

Sometimes within a friendship, it's okay to sense a special connection with someone and for it to remain a secret, silent one.  It's okay to exchange knowing smiles and to have a mutual understanding that you've got something different and special.  I have a few of these friendships and I'm thankful for them.

What's not okay is to use those special friendships to make other others feel less than.

My greatest desire is for the women I do life with to leave my presence feeling loved, encouraged and empowered.  As a momma, I hope that I can teach my daughter that friendship is a gift and to treat it as such.  I desire for her to grow, knowing that while not all friendships are equal -- all friendships do have value and are worthy of respect and great care. 
I propose that one of the best ways to care for the heart of a friend is to make sure that she never has to question her status on your friendship podium or have to wonder whether she would be picked last for your friend dodge ball team.  She should just know in her heart that she's got a place on the stand and a spot on the team.

To all of my girlfriends out there, you should know that you don't need a best, bestie or BFF attached to your name.  Each of you has uniquely added to my life in some way, shape and form.  I am blessed by you and I value your friendship for the uniqueness that you bring to my life and not because you do it better or worse than any other friend.  You are incredibly loved. 
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  1. Amen, Brittany. When your Mac and Nola met this summer, I knew they were both cut from the same cloth....two very big hearted little girls. After a "bff" incident last year, Michael and I have encouraged Nola to not label any of her friends "best friends" due to the potential let down associated with that label. It's been hard from her to get that word out of her vernacular but I think we're almost there.

    Here's to friendship in all of its various forms!

    1. Thank you so much for your words Michelle! I agree -- our girls are cut from the same cloth. I can't wait for them to play again this summer! I hope they will grow up to be great friends over the years! I'm so glad you and I have the same line of thinking with the "best friends" thing. There's no need for a best. Just lots of great friends!

  2. An answered prayer today Brittany! I have been struggling with this for a couple of months now with someone I thought was my "BFF" because of some changes in her life. I was feeling just like your little girl and not understanding why she didn't love me any more. But she has played a huge part in my life so this morning, I hit my knees and prayed that God would help me through this struggle. Your post is the answer to that prayer! I need her in my life for certain things but to label her as my BEST FRIEND is just not right because that should be reserved for God :) Thank you for your heart and praise God for that answered prayer!

    1. Oh goodness, everything you said made my heart both hurt for you and soar for you! I've been there! I've put expectations on a friend (many times) and then I'm let down and I'm broken hearted. When really, it's just changing the shift in our thinking. There's no way one person can fulfill every deep need that we have. You are right-- that's reserved for God. But also, I believe he puts lots of people in our lives to fulfill earthly needs in different ways. I have some friends who can tend to my heart in ways others can't. But one person can't do it all. Praying for you tonight because I HAVE been in your shoes. XOXO

  3. So much goodness in this post I don't even know where to begin! Your daughter's story, your thoughts on friendship - all kinds of heartstring tugs & important lessons. I've had many ups and downs of friendships in my life and can really appreciate this. Happy I clicked the link from your IG :)

    ~ Katie |

  4. I'm right there with you Brittany! I've had many sad or bad "bff" failures and now my husband and I are best friends. That's it.