Friendzone?

Guys, let’s be honest: the friendzone is a lie, an imaginary penalty box of self-loathing, and handy gimmick to get us to buy relationship advice.

It’s natural to develop romantic feeling towards those you are close to. Be honest about that. Honor those feelings. When those feelings pop up and sustain themselves, find a appropriate time and place to relate them. If the feelings are met and reciprocated, then great! Have fun. If the feelings are not reciprocated, you have a choice. If they just want to be friends and you’re okay with that, be friends! If you really struggle with it, maybe take a break, step away. You may want to invest in friendship later on, once the hormones die down.

Now, you may have those feelings but choose to invest in the friendship anyway. If you do this begrudgingly, this is not friendship. It will eat at you inside. This is masochism, not love, and relationships are built on love. It’s in this space that the “friendzone” thrives, because it’s easier to commiserate than to own your stuff and take appropriate action.

So, respect your feelings and those of your friend. Be honest and check in. And in all things, excel in love, in whatever form that love may take.

Jonah 4

You may or may not be familiar with the life of Jonah.

Jonah was a prophet way back when. God tells him to go to a place to Ninevah to preach to the people there, that they would stop doing all the bad stuff they were doing and instead do good. Jonah receives his mission and runs away, taking the soonest ship to the furthest town. En route, he hits a storm and, in a moment of conviction, asks the crew to throw him overboard. Not knowing what else to do, they do just that. Jonah is swallowed by the sea creature a la Pinocchio and spends three days in the belly of the beast. At that point, he has a change of heart, asks God for a hand out, and God does just that. The creature spits him out and he high-tails it over to Ninevah to ask them also to turn their lives around. In no short time, they do.

And all ends happily ever after, right? I wish. No. Many retellings of Jonah’s life end there, but his life extends to another chapter. In this chapter, he is sitting on a hill looking over the just-saved city of Ninevah, hoping that God will change His mind and blow it up. “Please, Lord, isn’t this what I thought while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster. And now, Lord, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live,” says the prophet. Despite all that Jonah has been through, he still wants the Ninevites to die and for God to take him with them.

Fortunately, God doesn’t grant Jonah’s request. Instead, he lets Jonah sit in the hot sun for a good, long while until Jonah is about to faint. Then, He grows up a plant to cover Jonah’s head. Jonah loves his plant because the comfort it provides him. God allows him a moment of solace than kills the plant.

Jonah flips out. When God asks him if his anger is justified, Jonah is 1200% sure that it is. At this, God asks a follow-up question, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in the night and perished in the night. But may I not care about the great city of Ninevah, which has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?” With that, God drops the mic and Jonah’s story ends there. We don’t know how he responded. In truth, we don’t need to. This is God’s question to us. We all have plants in our lives, things we put in priority over the people all around us. Are we brave enough to let them go and selfless enough to see the needs of others, even if those needs belong to those we don’t see eye to eye with?

The challenge is simple. God is waiting for the answer. Don’t be a Jonah. Answer the call.

Nothing Can Be Done

“I’d like to request a transfer,” she said.

She was Shandy Rains: kindhearted, attractive, and one of the top sales reps at her firm.

“What? Why?!” he said.

He was Nathaniel Harris, her immediate supervisor.

“It’s Gil. I can’t work with him anymore.”

Nathaniel leaned back. He had known Gil for some time. Wasn’t the best worker in the biz, but a good man nonetheless.

“Gil? What’s wrong? Did he say something to you?”

She shook her head.

“No. He’s never said anything. Never done anything. I don’t know, he just- he unnerves me.”

Nate laughed.

“That’s the nature of the biz. We all get on each other nerves. That’s how we know we’re being effective.”

She looked down and away.

“Not like this. Now and again I’ll catch him… looking. I mean, don’t get me wrong, lots of guys look, but with him… it’s different.”

Dammit, he thought as he leaned forward, fingers interlocked, resting his weight upon the desk.

“Give him some slack. His wife just passed.”

Charlotte, Gil’s wife, had died in a car accident several months previous. Nate had attended the funeral.

Shandy fidgeted and scratched the back of her neck.

“I know that, and I thought it would go away after he had time to… mend,” she said, “can’t be easy after all those years to go back to an empty home. But it’s gotten worse. Usually I can take it, no prob, but it’s gotten worse lately. I can’t pretend anymore.”

He drummed his fingers on the desk.

“Worse, how?”

“I’ll see him. He’ll come by… accidentally. Sneak a peak. I’m tired of it.”

“So you want me to tell him to get lost?”

“I want you to fire him.”

He stopped tapping.

“You know I can’t do that. I’d have nothing to stand on. The firm would get sued for wrongful termination.”

She stared him down, but she also knew he was right. There was nothing in the books to throw at him. No official harassment. Just a feeling.

“I quit.”

“Shandy-“

She threw a hand in the air.

“Him or me, Nate. You decide.”

He couldn’t lose this fight. Then again, he couldn’t win it either.

He bit his bottom lip and said, “I’ll put in a good word for you.”

Her eyes blazed with an all-consuming, incandescent fire. The fire raged and then died, leaving only the blackened smear of a soul behind.

“I see. Consider this my two weeks then.”

He sighed and nodded.

“Okay,” he said emptily.

She turned to leave.

“There are more of me out there, you know,” she said with her back to him.

“I know. I’m sorry. Nothing can be done.”

She sniffled and stormed out.

Nate slammed his first upon the desk as his own words rang through the empty room.

Nothing can be done. Nothing can be done. Nothing can be…. done.

The Son in Her Eyes

And there she is

in front of mirror, doing her makeup
fixing her hair
wishing, hoping, praying.
Oh! If only today they would see her,
not with those X-ray, X-rated eyes,
but with telescopes that gaze beyond this dying flesh,
this projected facade,
would peer deep within
to the starlight of her soul.
If only they would see the supernova
that burns within,
that dynamic energy stronger than
even science’s Big Bang-
the supernova that charges
and brings light into the world.
But all they see is the same old boring flesh
she sees every day
in mirror,
wrestles with
in the dark.
Ah, yes! She could be so much more

if they would let her, if she would let herself

be

in touch with her Creator, that boundless, selfless Well-spring of Love.

If only they could be like that,
they could be remade themselves too,
be anybody they wanted to be.
“Maybe one day,” she thinks, “maybe one day.”
In the meantime, today, she gets herself dressed and goes out into the world
with a rosary in her pocket, praying for her fellow man

and lifting everyone up into the Divine Embrace of God.