What kind of God do we serve? Every person I meet, every change of plans and every event impacts a life and is an opportunity for God to work in our hearts. How do we process life’s disappointments?
I met Luke at a young adults meeting at my church. He was attractive, he had a kind smile and he was a little quirky. He was an engineer so he kinda had that geeky sense of humor that made him seem sweet and innocent.
Luke and I hit it off right away. With my laid back personality and his sweet demeanor we were good friends in no time. We met for random dinners, went to see a play in the city, and we hung out with friends. We got to know each other through these random meets and frequent text messages.
One evening we decided to have a fun night out, I planned it, I enjoyed (and still do) discovering random off the wall places in the city and then sharing them with others. We started off at a funky Cuban sandwich shop that boasted the best Cuban sub in the city, then we headed over to the bar district for a game of Bocce and a couple of drinks. After challenging a group of guys to a game and winning by one final toss of the ball we left feeling victorious, we were the most epic Bocce team ever! As we walked to the next venue he got a phone call from a friend of his. He looked at his phone and then looked at me in question on whether to answer it or not. I smiled and said, “Well aren’t you going to answer?” letting him know it was perfectly ok with me if he took the call. He half smiled and said, “I won’t be long!” as he reluctantly answered.
Well, remember I’m out with Nikki at the moment what’s wrong?
Listen, don’t worry about it. I can come help tomorrow…” The conversation continued as he attempted to console her, I could hear what sounded like crying on the other end.
I wondered if there was something more between them that I didn’t know about. I guess not because she knew we were hanging out, I wondered if there was something more between us? Nah, we were just friends but I must admit I enjoyed his company. We liked the same things, we both loved the Lord and were dedicated to serving at the same church. Signs were good, but I tried my best not to read too much into them even if we were spending a lot of time together.
He wrapped up his conversation as quickly as possible, wrinkling his forehead occasionally to let me know he felt badly for making me wait.
We headed to a bar dedicated to the classic 90’s arcade games and spent the next few hours challenging each other on games and teaming up to win beer pong against other bar patrons.
The warm Florida night air made the evening tram ride and walk home a joy. We laughed at the funny bits of the evening and I went home feeling like that would have been a really great date if it were a date. Was it a date? I still wasn’t sure.
In the 3-4 months that I knew Luke his mind swayed from here to there on the idea of being married one day. He started out by saying that he liked the idea; about 2 months later he decided that marriage wasn’t for him and thought he was supposed to be single for the rest of his life. (That stung a bit for me because we were just getting to be pretty good friends and I wondered if I had anything to do with his sudden dislike of marriage. Why would his mind change like that?!)
During my time as friends with Luke I made the decision to move to another state. It was a tough choice to make and a very small part of my decision made me question if our friendship was ever meant to be anything more and if I should have included him in my decision process. Neither of us tried to define what we were so I didn’t know what the protocol was in this situation. I didn’t feel the need to tell Luke privately about my decision but the good folks around me were very upset when I broke the news to him and our other friends during Sunday brunch. I wasn’t looking at him when I made the announcement but all my friends apparently were… they said his face shattered. Sorry Luke! I felt badly but I also felt like we were friends and he didn’t deserve any special attention; after all we were not in a relationship.
We met for dinner one night and he blurted out, in a conversation not related to marriage, that he was afraid that God would make him marry someone he didn’t want to marry… “I’m afraid God will make me marry Tracy!”
I was too shocked to respond straight away, where did that come from and why was he telling me?! I didn’t really know Tracy but she seemed like a nice girl despite the fact that she was ever popping up in our conversations. It always seemed like he was nit picking at her. Nothing he said about her was really that bad, it was more as if he was trying to find things to dislike about her and comparing me to her which I didn’t like.
My response to his comment was, “God doesn’t make us do anything we don’t want to do, especially when it comes to a big decision like marriage. If you don’t like her then you don’t have to marry her, if God has other plans then by the time you are meant to marry He will have changed your heart towards her. Don’t be afraid Luke, take it to God. Get alone with Him and don’t leave until your head and your heart are saying the same thing!”
After that night we didn’t talk much at all, I heeded my advice to him and left him to be alone with God and it seemed like he heeded my advice too. One Saturday morning, as a last resort, I asked Luke to stop by for about 20 minutes to help me move some heavy furniture. He agreed. He showed up on time and to my surprise he brought Tracy with him. They had plans to see a movie but when I asked for help he thought it wouldn’t be a problem to swing by before they went.
I was mortified. You know when you’re in the middle of moving and your whole life is spread across the floor as you sort through “keeps and throw away” items? Well that’s the stage I was at… I had met Tracy once but I definitely didn’t know her well enough to allow her to see my place in such a state. Great Luke just bring your new girlfriend so she can see all my dirty laundry and make me feel like an even bigger loser! Just a week ago he didn’t want anything to do with this girl and now here she was in my pig sty!
I encountered the new couple a few more times before my move which just agitated me. I had a few thoughts to chew on at this point.
- Why would he say something like that and now parade around like a happy couple?
- Why had he struck up a friendship with me just to ditch me a few months later?
- What the hell was on in his mind?! What about me?!
The Dust Moment
About 6 months after I moved out of the state Facebook let me know that Luke and Tracy were engaged. Within a year my newsfeed was flooded with engagement and then wedding photos of the happy couple. I wanted to be happy for them, for him, but I could only squint my eyes at the photos in wonder. What was I? A distraction? A space warmer that was so easily disposable? What we were pretending was a friendship was completely barren before I even left. If he was really my friend wouldn’t we have still spoken after I left or at least up until I left? If we were really friends wouldn’t he have come to one of my 3 going away parties? This was no friendship. I was duped. I was just the girl that happened to be there for him whilst he figured out his fears and reservations of making one of the biggest decisions of a man’s life. Asking Tracy to be his wife. I must admit, I knew I didn’t want to be with him, I knew we got along well but in all honestly we were not compatible but I was angry, I was hurt, and even jealous that he was now married and I was still single.
The Gold Exchange
I know everything God does endures for all time. Nothing can be added to it; nothing can be taken away from it. We humans can only stand in awe of all God has done. What has been and what is to be—already is. And God holds accountable all the pursuits of humanity.
– Ecclesiastes 3:14-15
Love is always patient;
love is always kind;
love is never envious
or arrogant with pride.
Nor is she conceited,
and she is never rude;
she never thinks just of herself
or ever gets annoyed.
She never is resentful;
is never glad with sin;
she’s always glad to side with truth,
and pleased that truth will win.
She bears up under everything;
believes the best in all;
there is no limit to her hope,
and never will she fall.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I started writing this story thinking I was a victim of a fruitless and confusing friendship that was borderline relationship without the label. I wanted to write you a list of things to do so you won’t be used and end up feeling like I did; but the more I wrote the more the tables started to turn. My vantage point made a 180 degree turn. I realized that this was much more about Tracy and Luke and much less about me. I was just a trustworthy tool in this heart surgery between these two and I quickly got over my bitterness and jealousy as I remember my pray so often prayed, “God use me for your will to be done… Here is my life for you to use…” The word “use” echoed in my head and I laughed to myself. The spotlight was not supposed to be on me this time – I was not the main character of this story.
He was confused. He wasn’t ready to give this area in his heart to God. He chose to take his mind off of the decision he was wrestling with (choosing Tracy). That’s where God must have said, hmmm my son isn’t ready to trust me with this decision and he is going to run elsewhere, Nikki just gave me permission to use her and I know she won’t allow just anyone into her heart. Luke will be safe with her as his friend and that will give Me a chance to work on his heart.
I never once thought about what she was going through this whole time that I was having fun hanging out with the man that would soon be her husband! How did she handle this on her side? They were not a couple but did she know they would be? Was she threatened by me? What was she thinking as Luke, her friend for way longer than he was mine, slinked away from her and got to know another woman?
I tried to put myself in her shoes and all I could think was, “Well done Tracy”. She didn’t confront me, she didn’t try to win him over or ruin the times that we were hanging out. She was honorable, she was patient, she was mature and most of all she was a woman of God. I never saw her around whilst Luke and I were good friends, she did start to attend the same events as us later though, once he decided to see less of me and more of her. She kept her head down and she went about her business. Tracy served in one of the ministries in our church and during the months Luke and I were friends she was working away on the next church production. I was gone before the debut but I heard it was fantastic.
Now she is married to the man she waited patiently for. She won the prize, she caught the eye of her beloved and once she did he didn’t even bat an eye in anyone else’s direction (i.e. ME!). Tracy did not try to take matters into her own hands. I feel safe in saying that God was preserving her heart too because she had the heart to say yes to Luke after it was all said and done.
I was upset with him for the longest time because, as I’ve said before, hindsight is 20/20. How could he hang out with me while he was trying to decide on her?! I felt like that was such a careless way to handle this type of situation. He was not careful to protect her heart and neither was he concerned about my heart. Thankfully my Father in Heaven allowed me to be still and not try to pursue something with Luke.
The first line of this blog entry was a question. What kind of God do I serve? I asked it with a little bitterness in my heart. I answer it now more confident that ever that my God is a gracious and kind God. He protected our hearts, He preserved our dignity, and He never left Luke as he tried to navigate through vanity and logistics, insecurity and fears. He gave Tracy a project to keep busy with as Luke explored his feelings. And me, lastly, me… I met a really cool guy, I got to hang out with him and enjoy roaming the city, and I have a great story to tell. Bless them; I’m happier than ever for those two. Well done for making it through the sometimes rocky road and enduring to finish the race or rather start the journey of marriage well.
I only hope I’ve grown over the years into a mature woman of God like Tracy was. Who knew I would end up admiring her, who knew I would be so overjoyed to be a trusted friend of God – to be an assistant to His greatest masterpieces. What an honor that God trusted me with the heart of his son to help protect it until he was ready to place it in the hands of its rightful guardian.