Always Remember That Friendships Have "Levels" To Them

Not everyone deserves to have the same access to you. This friendship thing definitely has levels to it.

What About Your Friends?

If you live on this planet long enough, hopefully you'll come to realize (and then accept) that one of the hardest lessons life will teach you is what it means to have friends and what it means to be a true friend. I promise you that it wasn't until, shoot, probably my mid-30s when I came to the conclusion that, "Ohh…so this is what a real friendship is supposed to be like. Who knew?!" A part of the reason why I struggled so much was because the way we are introduced to things can set the tone for what we expect in the future and my first so-called friend? Lord, can you say "she-devil"? I ain't playin' either. She was all kinds of evil. But we were children and, a lot of times, parents will push kids together, just so they can be left alone to talk about grown folks stuff while they are hanging out with their own friends and whatnot. So, no matter how much she teased me, taunted me, was straight-up mean to me, I thought that was what friendship was supposed to be like. This meant that anyone who was even one-tenth nicer, I thought they were the best person ever. Hmph. One day, sooner than later, I'll write about why you should not just "allow friendships to happen"—why it is oh so important to be super intentional about actually selecting your friendships (in the meantime, see "Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone 'Friend'").

But today, what I want to get into, is something else that I've discovered about friendship. It's something that can help you to feel safe in your relationships. It's also something that will prevent you from being disillusioned, disappointed or flat-out mind blown as much as we can sometimes be in our friendships. You know, last summer, I penned a piece about how the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said that all of us should have three kinds of friends—utility (work), pleasure (fun) and good (basically friends who "grow us up") ones. I totally agree. Well, as someone who applies Scripture, quite a bit, to my life, because the Bible refers to our bodies as temples (I Corinthians 6:19) and also because, back in the Old Testament, the actual temples/tabernacles were broken up into three parts (which I'll break down in just a moment), I'm going to share why I also think it's important to consider that all friendships should not be treated equal.

Coming to the place of embracing that friendships have actual "levels" has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me—and my relationships with other people.

Outer Court: Good Acquaintances


Let me start all of this off by saying that if we first see ourselves as temples—as sacred beings—that can automatically alter our dynamics with folks. To be sacred is to be divine and divine things deserve to be treated with extreme reverence. Keeping that in mind, back in biblical times, the temples/tabernacles that people would go into were broken down into three different spaces: the outer court, the inner court and the most holy place.

As far as the outer court is concerned, one of the things that made it stand out are the many pillars that the temples/tabernacles had. Pillars provide strength and support to a building; to a certain extent, pillars also serve as barriers. If I were to parallel this to actual relationship with people, to me, this would be like having a close acquaintance. By definition, an acquaintance is someone who knows you (not because they say so but because you say so) but they aren't the closest to you. You and your acquaintances might have lunch together sometimes at work or meet up for drinks after because you enjoy each other's company or you have a few things in common. They might even be someone who you confide in when it comes to certain areas of your life, perhaps because you respect their level of expertise, you see them as a mentor or you don't want particular details of your life "hitting too close to home" via your family members and friends.

Acquaintances are cool because you enjoy them, you really do, but there still need to be certain boundaries and barriers up where they are concerned. It's not that they aren't good people; it's simply that before someone can even be considered a friend, other things have to transpire first.

Inner Court: Close Friends


When it came to the inner court, some biblical scholars say that the outer court was a designated space for praise while the inner court was a designated space for worship. As it relates to God, specifically, a good definition of worship is "to render religious reverence and homage, as to a deity". However, did you know that another definition of the word is "to feel an adoring reverence or regard for (any person or thing)"? While I don't recommend that anyone "worship" someone else (that can set you up to make them an idol in your life), I am a strong advocate for you being in relationships where you are highly regarded.

When someone regards you, they pay close attention to you. When someone regards you, they are concerned about you, your needs and your overall well-being. When someone regards you, they are careful with your feelings, they are truly interested in your world and they take special note of what they can do to make the quality of your life better.

Articles that I've written like "Life Taught Me That True Friendships Are 'Inconvenient'", "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships", "10 Questions To Ask Your Close Friends Before The New Year Begins" and even "10 Signs You've Got A Close (TOXIC) Friend" are all the result of the blood, sweat and tears that I went through in order to figure out who truly regarded me and who didn't. Not only that but who I truly regarded and who I didn't. This "level" of friendship is for the folks who are truly invested and committed in your life. No one deserves access to your inner court until they have shown—in word and in deed—that they can be trusted, that they are loyal and that they are interested in giving just as much as they want to receive. No one should see your inner court "just because". They definitely need to earn this type of access.

Most Holy: Best Friend/Spouse


While recently reading an article on the most holy space of biblical temples and tabernacles, I liked it when the author said, "To understand these places, it will help if we first understand the concept of 'holy.' At its most basic meaning, holy simply means 'set apart' or even 'different.' God is holy because He is absolutely different, completely set apart from everything else." Amen. Your most holy space is also "set apart" and "different"; it's highly-privileged information. It's kind of another message for another time, but that's why I'm not big on casual sex. Just because the dynamics of the situation may be different, that doesn't change the fact that a man has been able to literally enter into "the holiest of holies". Not just anyone should know you in that way. You're far too special, precious and yes, sacred for that.

As far as friendship goes, I liken the most holy place to a best friend or spouse. One day, I'll write about why I'm a huge fan of that being one in the same once you're married (the word "best" in best friend can give you a clue in the meantime).

For now, I'll just say that your best friend and/or your spouse should definitely have a different kind of access to you than anyone else does; they are the top tier level in your life.

You know, back in the Old Testament of the Bible, when a person entered into the most holy place of a place of worship without God's permission, the consequence was super extreme; it was death (Leviticus 16:2). That's how special that space was. So many times in my life, when a friend would hurt me, I'd be absolutely devastated. Looking back, it wasn't really because they were all that great as people or good to me. It was because I allowed them into my "most holy place"—my intimate secrets, my most fragile vulnerabilities, my most valuable of resources—when they absolutely and most definitely did not deserve it. How did I heal? What changed? I learned to stop giving outer court, inner court or folks who didn't deserve my temple space at all the permission to come into those spaces and places. It's as simple as that. At this stage and season in my life, I've got a couple of "most holy friends" and they don't even have the kind of accessibility that I am reserving for my future husband. Knowing that I control my "levels" and no one else is both empowering and healing at the same time.

It can't be said enough. Sis, you are a divine temple. You don't have to—nor should you—allow just anyone to be in your outer or inner court, let alone your most holy space. Each level requires a certain type of character, commitment and reciprocity from an individual. Don't let folks in who aren't worthy. You are far too sacred for that. Make sure that they level up first, OK? It'll totally change your life—and quality of friendships—if/when you do.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Is It Time To Initiate A 'Friend Divorce'?

How To Deal With You And Your Friends' Growth Spurts

Pettiness, Moodiness & Other "Friendship Irritants" To Work Through

The Word 'Platonic' Is Sacred. Literally.

Feature image by Artem Varnitsin/Shutterstock

We all know what it is to love, be loved, or be in love – or at least we think we do. But what would you say if I were to tell you that so much of the love that you thought you’d been in was actually a little thing called limerence? No, it doesn’t sound as romantic – and it’s not – unless you’re into the whole Obsessed-type of love. But one might say at least one side of that dynamic might be…thrilling.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba are gearing up for the second season of their podcast Coupledom where they interview partners in business and/or romance. The stunning couple has been married for three years but they have been together for a total of six years. During that time, they have developed many partnerships but quickly learned that working together isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Keep reading...Show less

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. As an icon of Black liberation movements, his words are often rallying cries and guideposts in struggle. In 2020, after the officers who executed Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder, my timeline was flooded with people reposting Malcolm’s famous quote: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

Keep reading...Show less

As her fame continues to rise, Tiffany Haddish has remained a positive light for her fans with her infectious smile and relatable story. Since Girls Trip, fans have witnessed the comedian become a modern-day Cinderella due to the many opportunities that have come her way and the recognition she began to receive.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Jay Ellis Shares ‘Full-Circle’ Moment With His Parents & His Self-Care Ritual

Staying grounded is one of the actor's biggest priorities.

Latest Posts