I think it is time to introduce myself. My name is Kristina. I am Carrie’s best friend. Travis was like a brother to me. I have written this blog as a way to honor my friend and his family. Today I asked Carrie if I could write something personal and she said it would be perfect. So here I go…
I’m not a hokey person. I don’t buy into things very easily. In fact…I am a pretty skeptical and somewhat critical person by nature. It has always been a struggle in my faith. I like to find the hole in the argument. The lapse in the reasoning. The weakness in the debate.
It was the thing I had most in common with Travis.
That’s probably a surprise to most of you who have followed the blog and don’t know me. Likely, I have come across as someone with either strong faith or someone who believes everything she hears. Perhaps even a bit Pollyanna and naive? Nothing can be further from the truth.
That’s just how much I believed in the message of Trav’s healing.
I believed because I don’t believe in coincidences. So when the “Black Angel” spoke to us…and then Trav got an email with the same message a week later…and the next day he asked God “what should I read today” and opened his Bible to the same message yet again…I started to believe…
That we had…a divine appointment.
But I was wrong.
Just twelve and a half short months later he was gone and my faith was in a shambles. Not so much my faith in God but my faith in hearing from Him…of discerning His voice.
How did I get it so wrong?!?
It’s been five months. Five months and two days to be exact.
For Carrie the first three months were a fog to say the least. It took everything within her to just put one foot in front of the other. To put on a brave face for her children and be the mom Travis would have wanted her to be. To honor his memory in every way she knew how. The last two months she has begun to emerge from the fog. She is smiling more and hearing her laughter warms her family’s and friends’ hearts. She never misses an opportunity to talk about Travis and often apologizes for doing so which is silly because the people she is with love to do it as much as she does. She has begun to make every decision in light of “how would Travis handle this” or “what would Travis want me to do”. She has met challenges head on. Made hard decisions. Handled tough confrontations. And has navigated the waters of being a widow and single mom with the grace, perseverance, and perhaps even a bit of tenacity that shouts “I am Travis Roberts’ wife and he taught me well.” All in an effort to honor him and preserve his legacy…particularly the witness of his faith walk the last 15 months of his life.
And…while juggling all of this…she has done whatever she could to nurse my fragile faith back to health.
What an amazing woman… What an amazing friend…
Until today, since Travis died, I have gone to church one time. It was a disaster. I sobbed from the entrance of the church parking lot until some point along the route home with little reprieve. While church, of course, conjures up all sorts of memories about Trav I think it was more my disappointment in God that brought on the tears.
(Gasp! Did she just say that…)
Yes. I said it. Disappointment is just one feeling I have been trying to work through in the past five months. I don’t know if I have been disappointed in God for allowing me to fall for that message hook, line and sinker or in myself for not being skeptical for the first time in my life. If I am honest…it is probably a little bit of both.
I have been angry, hurt, confused, embarrassed and have even felt a bit betrayed.
So I guess God decided it was time for a divine appointment.
To be honest, I am not sure why we ended up going to church today. We didn’t really discuss it. We didn’t have a reason to go “today”. We just got up and my husband said “how long until we have to leave for church.” And I didn’t argue.
On the way to church I quietly breathed a silent prayer that said something like “I can’t believe I am doing this. It would be nice if You would speak to one of us so this isn’t a huge waste of time.”
We made it to church, said hello to some friends, walked the kids to their classrooms and found a seat in the monstrosity that is North Point Community Church’s auditorium.
I marveled at myself…
“huh…no tears…not one…isn’t that interesting?!?”
The music started and, other than the guy in front of me glancing back every few minutes to remind me how painfully off key I tend to sing, it seemed like a regular Sunday morning.
And then the last song came on. Oceans.
I should have known right then and there that, unbeknownst to me, God had scheduled a divine appointment...
The tears began. But this time they were different. They were’t feelings of anguish or betrayal. Instead, they seemed to be almost stripping away those feelings. Stripping them away until there was nothing left….
Nothing but vulnerability.
And at that point. For the first time in five months. I was ready. Ready for my divine appointment.
Being an Andy Stanley fan, and knowing how much Travis loved Andy, imagine my disappointment when another pastor took the stage. I remember thinking, “God…I’m not going to get anything out of this…” and feeling frustrated.
Little did I know…
As Joel Thomas took the stage we quickly learned that Andy was supposed to preach that day. However, his mother fell ill and so he asked Joel to fill in just 12 hours earlier. And so Joel began to preach. His message?
How to survive the first Christmas without a loved one.
I told you though. I am not hokey. I am naturally skeptical. And so as quickly as I thought, “OMG! this is just for us…” I dismissed it and thought “well that’s a neat coincidence.”
I made a mental note to ensure that Carrie listened to the sermon online.
And then Joel got personal.
He talked about losing his father to cancer his senior year in high school. He talked about being taught by some individuals that, if you pray in Jesus’ name, your prayers would be answered. He talked about always believing whole heartedly, even in the end, that his dad would beat it. That God would miraculously heal him. His dad beat everything…he was his hero.
He talked about feeling angry…even betrayed…when his dad died.
There have been 23 Sundays since Travis died. I have been to church on two of them. The first one, i can barely remember who preached (I am pretty sure it was Andy) let alone the message or topic. The second was today. The day of this “unplanned” message.
Everything in me told me to be skeptical. To not “fall for it” again. To not believe that He was talking to me.
But there was this Whisper that told me otherwise. The Whisper told me that there was a reason I was there on THIS Sunday and not Sunday #22.
Since Trav died I have been ignoring that Whisper. Pushing It out of my mind when It tries to capture my thoughts. When It calls me. I have dismissed anything that could possibly be God as a coincidence.
But this time…was different. Instead of trying to decipher if I was right or wrong…if this was Him or not…I just felt…comforted. I felt Him tell me,
“It’s ok. I’m here. I still love you. I DO care….”
I still don’t understand how I got the message about Trav’s healing so wrong. Why God allowed those messages to come to us in the way they did, and in the timing they did, when they clearly were not true.
I doubt I ever will.
It is the first thing I plan to ask Him…at my last…