Ode to Tracy on her birthday (or the “heathen temptress” who turned out to be my angel of light)


I tried so hard to talk myself out of liking or loving Tracy.

The biggest reason I tried so hard to not like her is that I didn’t imagine she would like me back. I wanted to save myself the heartbreak, so I tried to coax my heart away from her.

Someone like her would never like someone like me. Would she?

The second biggest reason I tried to not like Tracy is that I wasn’t her type and she wasn’t mine.

From an early age, I had a picture of the kind of girl I would marry and Tracy was not it.

Until I met Tracy, I expected to marry a woman who is a lot like me. Maybe she would be the daughter of a Christian missionary or pastor. I would meet her at a Bible study, church, or at Christian concert. On dates, we would cup mugs of tea in our hands, pray together and talk about God’s will for our lives. It would be easy for her to like me and for me to like her. We would always get along sweetly.

Tracy wasn’t any of that.

We didn’t meet at church. We met as coworkers in a very secular environment. I felt things the first time I saw her. Strong things. They only got stronger the more I got to know her. But, as I told my church-y friends, I thought those feelings could be coming from the devil. Maybe Tracy was a siren, tempting me to the place where Satan would sink my soul.

But “deep calls to deep” and the more I got to know Tracy, the harder it got to believe that she was a heathen temptress.

In fact, I started to wonder if she might be the noblest, purest, truest person I ever met in my life. Could it be that she knew more about faith, hope, and love–the trifecta of Christian life–than I did?

How could this be?

I was afraid.

I was afraid to trust her. She didn’t come from my very Christian culture and upbringing. She wasn’t part of those things when I met her.

But I was also afraid of what I might learn about myself through her. Tracy’s authenticity, purity, and truth-telling held up a mirror that made me very uncomfortable. For the first time in my life, I could see that my piety and purity were not what they seemed. I used parts of my Christianity to dazzle other Christians into liking me. I used other parts of my Christianity to hide the “real me,” to keep my heart safe from judgment and rejection.

The parts of Christianity that I used to make myself popular with other people in my Christian culture did not work with Tracy. She could see right through me. The more I was around her, the more I could see the truth: That I was good at looking like a Christian to other Christians, but Tracy was actually a good Christian, even if she didn’t look like the Christians I knew.

I actually went through a phase when I was angry at Tracy. Being who she is showed me who I was and I didn’t like it. I was “being good,” but doing so to get ahead (and often failing). Tracy was good and was genuinely surprised and thankful when she kept “getting ahead.”

I am so thankful that I finally let myself fall all the way in love with her.

I am so thankful that she agreed to marry me. The strongest proof that Tracy embodies the grace and love of God is that she signed up for a lifetime with me. That is no joke.

As crazy as I was about her back when we first met and got to know each other, I’m so much crazier about her now. I not only love her so much, but I admire her more than anyone. Every day that I am with her is a challenge to be better, to be true.

It’s a challenge I am happy and thankful to have in my life because it means I have Tracy in my life.

But looking back, there is a lesson for all of us.

God came to me and gave me the greatest gift of my life, but not through the people and places I expected all along. I was so sure that my mate had to be a certain kind of person who came from a certain place in a certain way. The gift of Tracy showed me everything I would have missed if God worked the way I thought God had to work.

What about you? What expectations and limits are you putting on God? Who might be the one(s) through whom God would reveal himself to you more fully if you would give them a chance?

Grace and peace.

And Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl.


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