|Photo taken by D Sharon Pruitt|
BFF. Somewhere along the way, the term "bff" became so consistently used it's practically a real word. The concept of "Best Friends Forever" rolls around early in childhood—especially for girls. I still have vivid memories of my childhood best friends, including secret languages, best friends necklaces, made up songs, and matching outfits. Once my early-childhood best friend/next door neighbor and I went so far as to be found walking along a main road a few blocks from home in pursuit of Greenland, after seeing a commercial on television! Other than the heart attacks we must have given our moms, it's a funny story of two best buddies ready to conquer the world.
Somewhere along the way, friendship turns from innocent displays of loyalty to a vital part of one's social standing. Attending a public junior high, I remember distinct divisions between the "popular" kids, the "nerds", the "jocks", and all the rest. I had my own close group of girlfriends that soon included both boy friends and boyfriends. As silly as junior high relationships can be, many teens go through a phase (some sooner than others) in which they begin to replace the closeness of their same gender friendships with romantic relationships.
Now, I know not everyone grows up thinking boys are icky, or that girls have cooties. Many people do have lifelong "bff's" of the opposite gender. However, I believe that as we grow through childhood, adolescence and dating, and eventually a family life and marriage, our relationships with our "bff's" should grow and change as well. Discernment is key, as well as the comfort level of all involved (especially spouses), and while I am not in the business of setting rules for everyone else, today I want to celebrate the value of same gender relationships.
My freshman year of high school, I started attending a private Christian school about 10% of the size of my previous public school. After going through some pretty difficult "mean girl" situations, I really shied away from girl friends in general. My friend Teresa, who I also knew from church, became my closest friend (and more of a sister), but other than that, girls in general made me extremely wary. Why deal with the gossip and betrayal of mean girls, when the guys were so easygoing? I was afraid to invest in close friendships for fear of being hurt, and gained a reputation as "the flirt". Each of my four years in high school was very different, and full of various kinds of relationships and life lessons. By graduation, I was learning to place less value on dating relationships and beginning to ditch my flirtatious mentality. I had also (started to) overcome the fear of being rejected by other girls, and my best friends then are still my very best friends now.
The four of us have been through many things together, including divorce and remarriage of parents, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, broken hearts, marriage, and having children. They have seen me at my best and at my worst, and they know me in a way few others do. When I need to talk about the ins and outs of parenting, marriage, or daily life, they are a safe place to go for encouragement and support. When I have exciting news, they are the first to know. As women, they understand me in a unique way, and there have been times I truly don't know how I would have pulled through without them. Whether you are a teen, college student, working professional, stay at home mom, or something else, I highly encourage you to seek and pursue friendships with people of the same gender that you can invest your heart and soul in. Share your life with them. Walk through hard times together. Minister to them in the ways you know you would appreciate as someone of that gender. Maybe that person exists in your family as a brother or sister, maybe they are a friend from church or work, maybe you meet them in a moms play group...wherever they come from, celebrate them! Have girls/guys nights out. Make time for them. Prioritize them, and don't forget to tell them how much they mean to you every so often. :)
I'd love to hear about your "bff's"! Is it your mom? Your cousin? A random person you met at a coffee shop that became your friendship soul mate? How important are same gender friendships to you? I've been even more blessed to have Jordans sisters as my sisters and "bff's" in addition to my lifelong girlfriends! :)