I have a confession. When I was growing up, all I wanted was to have a best friend, and I felt like a weirdo because I didn’t have one.
It was a trend in primary school to fill up ‘autograph books’ amongst your friends. The most important element for me was the ‘friendship ranking’ page, where you indicated who was your ‘100% friend’, ’75% friend’, and so on. This was my chance to secure a best friend! I asked a classmate if we could put each other down as 100% friends in everyone’s books and was thrilled when she agreed. But I was devastated when I realised she’d listed me as her 100% friend in my book, but at a lower percentage in another friend’s book! Well, so much for being ‘best friends forever’ (BFF)!
In secondary school, I tried to push a friend to choose between me and someone else, and give me the ‘best friend’ label I so desperately craved. Frustrated from all my needling, she finally said, “I know that you want me to say that you are my best friend, but I can’t. Both of you are important to me in different ways. Isn’t it enough to know that I value your friendship and want to keep investing in it?”
At the time, my answer was a flat-out “NO!” It wasn’t enough. If I wasn’t going to be assured that I was her best friend, I wanted to take my friendship elsewhere and invest in someone who would invest the same time, love, and energy in me.
I’ve long wondered why having a best friend used to mean so much to me. I had many good, godly friendships. I knew I could turn to them in times of need, and I knew that they had my back. But I didn’t want more friends. I wanted a best friend. More accurately, I wanted to be chosen as someone else’s best friend! I used to lie awake for hours thinking about what I had to do to convince someone that I was worthy of being ‘the chosen one’. I felt so insecure that no one had deemed me special enough to choose me.
I WANTED A BEST FRIEND. MORE ACCURATELY, I WANTED TO BE CHOSEN AS SOMEONE ELSE’S BEST FRIEND!
It soon dawned on me that that insecurity was what was fuelling my continued search for a BFF. Good friends had never been enough — I needed to be given that place of utmost importance. Little did I know that everything I craved, God had already given me. Even though He knew my every evil thought and bad side, He still loved and chose me (Rom 5:8). Jesus left heaven to give up His life for me; can there be a better friend than Him (John 15:13)? If I had any doubt that I was special, God reminded me through His Word that before I had even been born, He knew me (Ps 139:16), and He continues to delight in me (Zeph 3:17)!
It wasn’t a magical moment of realisation that changed things, but rather a journey that lasted years. At the end of that journey, for the first time, I was okay with not having a best friend. With that secondary school friend, instead of chasing after the BFF status with her, I focused on being a friend that could spur her on in Christ just as iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17). No longer afraid of losing her friendship, I was able to heed the wisdom in Proverbs 27:5-6 and challenge her in love when I felt she wasn’t walking in God’s ways. Instead of indulging in my insecurities and pushing her to say I was her best friend, I concentrated on being the faithful friend to her that I hoped she would be to me.
One random day in university, she did refer to me as her best friend. Surprised and honoured as I was, it wasn’t the life-changing status I thought it would be. Our friendship didn’t change when she started calling me her best friend, because the foundation we had built was already solid, and the insecurities that motivated my search for a BFF were long gone.
Even if I didn’t have a best friend now, I don’t think I would be the desperate BFF-seeker I once was. Because I now know that even if no one calls me their best friend, I am no less valued, important, or loved — in Jesus, I am more valued, important, and loved than I could ever imagine.