Why I Stopped Labeling My Friends

blog post pic I have had a lifetime filled with fabulous friendships. I can think back to the days of my childhood and smile because of the wonderful memories. My teen years were filled with fantastic friendships too. My college years did not disappoint when it came to the friends the Lord put in my life. Through my twenties and thirties the friendships became more meaningful. I am grateful to live a life filled with the richness of friendship.

As I reminisce, there are certain friends that stand out in my mind. Maybe this is due to the time we spent together, the things we had in common, or a memory that has remained vivid. Something I have observed and have done myself is labeling these individuals. Now before you get uncomfortable with my use of the word “label” and think I am judging my friends, I am not. Also what I have observed and also done is not wrong. This is simply something that I let go of and stopped doing. Believe me, it is a hard habit to break!

You and I say it, we post it on Facebook, twitter, write it in captions on pictures. Whether it is the word Best Friend, Bestie, BFF, Best Girlfriend, or whatever you use to describe that person. We all use those words as a label. Is it wrong? of course not. Is there any harm in using that to describe someone? Definitely not. Then why did I get away from placing that label on my closest friends?

It was simple. I realized that if I saw each of them as filling a needed position in my life, I could easily lose sight of how valuable they are. By giving them a title and labeling, the friendship could be more about expectation than the rich experience of relationship. When I focus on the rich experience that deep relationships bring into my life, I have found I can’t adequately describe it much less label it.

When I have walked into a meeting room and discovered a round table rather than a rectangular table, I am relieved. There is always a head that is clearly defined at the seating of a rectangular table. When everyone is seated at a round table, the value of each individual person is recognized. What does that analogy have to do with Best Friends? I have struggled at times with what person to seat at the head of my Friendship Table. Who is the best? Who means the most to me? Who knows the most about me? For me, more than one person could have sat at the head of my Friendship Table.

Instead of trying to label my friends with the most coveted title of Best Friend, I stepped back and realized that I greatly value each one of them. Let’s admit it, we love it when someone refers to us as their Best Friend, BFF, or Bestie. I don’t think that should ever be our goal in friendships. It is not about the title, it is about the relationship. It is about our connection. It is about the value of the friendship. In my mind, I did away with my rectangular table of Friendship and replaced it with a round table that focused on what each person brings to that table. I know one thing, I have realized that I need a lot of different friends and my life is deeply enriched because of each of them. I also have learned when I stop labeling, I enlarge my circle of friends. When I look at my Friendship Table and the ones that are there, I realize I need the ones that bring the laughter, the ones that offer the wise counsel, the girl friend that loves to discuss the deeper things of life, the gal that is up to date on all the fashion, the ones that challenge my walk with Christ, and my descriptions can go on and on. I am grateful for each one. My life is more complete with each of these fabulous friends.

Today, as you think of your friends,I want to ask you to remove the label and focus on the value of your friendships. I am perfectly content with never having another “Best Friend” because my life is filled with the rich experiences of these relationships. I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world… I have been given a great gift, the gift of friendship. I love these women with a deep love that is wrapped in years of living life together: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We need each other. I don’t need just one of them; I need all of them. I need their insight,perspective, wit, sarcasm, goofiness,laughter, tears, smiles, phone calls. texts, and much more. Whether your table of friends is large or small, value the relationship with a different perspective and I think you will be less likely to label.