what price, friendship?


"If he [Adam] is worthy, [she will be] a help [ezer]. If he is not worthy [she will be] against him [kenegdo] for strife."

I was once like Jonah who ran away from God. (This is the same Jonah who "lived in a whale," as one kids' song goes). After realizing it was time to stop running away from God, Jonah heads for where he should've been in the first place (Nineveh) and proclaimed to the people (the Ninevites) what God has commissioned him to announce. When the people listened, God "had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened." (Jonah 3:10)

Jonah, probably thinking that his 'obedient' efforts were rendered useless, became angry and reminded God about his rationale for running away to Tarshish instead of Nineveh - that he knew God will be merciful on him. God then asked Jonah back if he had any right to get angry. (Jonah 4:4)

Let's hold that thought. I'm not angry at anyone, neither am I questioning God on something. However, the parallelism I have with Jonah is the part where I know exactly what God wants me to do but I've been procrastinating and have been making excuses and 'bargaining agreements' with God, banking on His long hand of mercy.

Moving on with the story: Jonah takes a rest and mulls things over, more like on a wait-and-see mode. He makes a shelter for himself then God made a plant grow over Jonah's head "to ease his discomfort." Overnight, Jonah enjoyed the comfort the vine gave him but when dawn came, "God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered." To make matters worse, God made the weather unbearably hot, prompting Jonah to become very angry, complain and prefer being dead. Now, now. I hope you don't consider God as a bully who'd push us to our limits. He's actually more concerned about building our character than giving us comfort. God's not boasting about it, it's just His way of showing that He is in control; that He IS God.

So Jonah gets very dizzy from the heat, complains, and tells God he's better off dead. God then asks him, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"

These days, Jonah 4 is becoming more and more real to me. I honestly didn't recognize right away that my friendship with Buddy is a gift from God. I've actually asked God last year to give me a "buddy," who will be like my closest brother (in the truest sense of the word). I started 'texting' around July 2009 with a Christian guy and one day, after several weeks of exchanging messages, the guy just called me "buddy." I haven't told anyone (not even my accountability partner) about that prayer so when Buddy called me "buddy," I knew he was God's answer to my prayer.

Much through the six months I've known Buddy, I've learned (repeatedly re-learned, and still learning) about how my emotions can become like, in Jonah's story, the worms that God sent at dawn and chewed on the plant. The plant is our friendship which blossomed in quite a very short span of time without us putting on extra effort at making it grow and I believe that God willed it so; but our emotions (which are also parts of God's design for human beings) can destroy that friendship in just one misunderstood text message.

Right from the beginning, Buddy knew that I DIDN'T want to have a boyfriend; that I really wanted us to be good friends and help one another grow, share 'limited' accountability, exchange spiritual insights, and correct each other when necessary. There were times, however, when Buddy's text messages "weirded" me out. I was somehow getting 'mixed' meanings from the messages he sent and I, guarding a wall on a specific area of my heart, will go on defense mode.

Around the middle of November, Buddy asked me to be his girlfriend - not through text message but personally. I think I must've unwittingly sent some wrong signals, I probably might have been too sweet, too kind, or for whatever reason, Buddy sought counsel and prayed about that particular evening. I failed to give him a straight answer, not knowing whether I should be angry at him, or just laugh the whole thing off. But that is no laughing matter. That's a MAJOR decision out there and my entire future (and his) hinged on my YES or NO.

I had the blessed opportunity of serving as a facilitator in a singles' retreat late in November and it was during that time that God spoke to me clearly about the 'state' of my heart. Like Jonah, I really just wanted to be on a 'wait-and-see' mode regarding Buddy. I wanted to just ignore his messages, pretend like he didn't exist, or that I'm not at all bothered. In the retreat, I asked God to show me my heart. God led me to Psalm 119:113 "I hate double-minded men but I love Your law." That was very precise because I was annoyed with the fact that Buddy seemed to be sending me mixed signals. I asked God further why I was anxious and restless. God proceeded, "Let your 'YES' be 'YES,' and your 'NO,' 'NO'." (Matthew 5:37) Ahh, alright. I had to decide. I had to make a choice. I had to get real... and stand firm.

I do NOT want a boyfriend. I do not want to be in an exclusive relationship with someone if only for the purpose of being with someone. What's the use of having a boyfriend if we're not even considering marriage, right?

However, I must admit, it is difficult to be real close with a guy without the danger of "falling" into temptation. Temptation comes in many forms, not just the sexual kind; I've been learning that there is also such a thing as emotional integrity. I've made a commitment to Jesus, and I am committed to living a life of purity. A requisite to that commitment, that passion, is the willingness to let go of relationships that will compromise my integrity with Jesus, my First Love.

Yes, Buddy is an answered prayer; he's a blessing to me. But I must admit, I've been given a warning that we can be a stumbling block to each other. God gives, God takes away. For countless times, through Scripture, God has reminded me not to be too close with any one of my brothers in the faith.

Like Jonah, I have no right to be angry at God over the plant, that is, of what has become my friendship with Buddy. Buddy's text messages have been less frequent these past few days and I must admit, even when some of his messages annoy me, receiving a message from him brings a smile to my heart. But, I also know I have to obey God's instructions. Buddy sent me a text message a few nights ago which confirmed my fear: "Sooner or later, we would have to permanently separate." It hurts, but I just have to respect Buddy's decision and let go of our friendship.

I know this may sound like I'm trying to convince myself, but if it is God's will for me to be someone's 'ezer kenegdo' at least for what remains of my days here on earth, I am willing to submit to that. Yet I am more than willing to WAIT upon God's perfect timing because TRUE LOVE WAITS; it actually waits, works, waits, works and waits some more. Good is often the enemy of best and waiting will ensure that I am not settling for less of God's Best.

TRUE LOVE seeks the best of the other person - even when it means that you might not be a part of it. I love Buddy but I won't be helping him if I'll always be around; I'm a snare and a distraction to him, pretty much in the same way that I get distracted with the fact that I feel loved and perfectly safe with him. It's like I have a double shield whenever he's around.

My security should rest squarely upon my relationship with the only Man who's worthy of my full trust, devotion and adoration: JESUS with Whom I am in an Open Relationship. JESUS is the Lover of my soul and His unconditional love enables me to be gracious, compassionate and loving towards everyone - inclusive, not exclusive. If God, our Father, doesn't show favoritism in His love for His children, all the more that I shouldn't have favorites too, right?

In Luke 9:23 JESUS said: "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." I must let go of my friendship with Buddy. I must be quiet, pray, and just wait. God cares about the "120,00 childlike people who don't yet know right from wrong," (Jonah 4:11) and that is what I should be more concerned about. Time is running out and there's still much work to be done. God has entrusted me a vision almost 4 years ago and I am confident that it will come to pass very soon. God's will is good, pleasing and perfect and He makes everything beautiful in His time (Rom. 12:2; Eccl. 3:11), so all the more that I should trust, obey and just wait upon Him.

Now, whether or not I am Buddy's ezer kenegdo, only God knows for sure.

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