Jump directly to the content

The Great, Maligned American Road Trip


Oct 29 2013
Cross-country drives aren't for escaping responsibility; they're the ultimate test of commitment.

A few years ago, having just turned 27, I did the unthinkable. I quit my full-time job, moved out of my apartment, sold nearly everything I owned, and spent the next year of my life traveling to all 50 states.

We've long dismissed such epic journeys — physical or otherwise — as immature and escapist. When a 20-something sets off to travel across the country, or around the world, or simply to a new way of thinking, we immediately think of what responsibilities she must be trying to eschew. We imagine what romantic notion of a "find-yourself" adventure she must have in mind.

In fact, these were the voices ringing in my mind as I planned my own road trip. In my early 20s, I might have been given a free pass, I told myself. In my late 20s, I worried it made me seem unreliable, spontaneous, and flighty.

I'm here to tell you: we're wrong about road trips. It turned out to be the most responsible, reliable, committed thing I've ever done.

Traveling for a year forced me to rely on God in a way I never had before. Before I left, I relied on all kinds of things that weren't God. I relied on the "rules" and my ability to follow them, my bank account, my education, my great credit score, my friends, my good reputation and the reputation of my family. In order to go on this journey, I had to let go of each of these things, one by one.

I let go of the guarantee of regular income. Instead, I helped book performances for a musician friend who came with me. We brought in some cash with those shows, and by selling her CDs and other merchandise, but for the most part we lived day-to-day, never knowing exactly how our most basic needs would be met.

I let go of my established network of friends and family, using Facebook to track down people we knew in each part of the country. Or, in the case of Jackson Hole, Wyoming—hundreds of miles away from anyone we were connected to—we slept in our car. What we found when we stopped rescuing ourselves was God rescued us. God provided for us. He often used people to do it, but there was never any doubt it was from him.

And, like a child meeting her Father for the first time, I felt an empty place inside of me fill up when that happened, like a long-held question being answered. He loved me. God loved me. So much of my life had been spent meeting my own needs, I didn't know how truly satisfying it would feel to experience God's tangible provision and love.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

In her latest book, Shauna Niequist trades “competition, comparison, and exhaustion for meaning, connection, and unconditional love."
After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

I equip my daughters to protect themselves and their bodies in ways I didn’t learn to.
Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

I know from experience what happens when children face moving, divorce, or other stressful life change—and how we can help them.
The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

After interviewing 120 women, I saw glimmers of a truce in the Mommy Wars.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Truth About Living with an Invisible Illness

God sees me and my pain even when others cannot.

Follow Us

Twitter

  • Shauna Niequist talked to us about reclaiming lazy Saturdays #cmonweekend https://t.co/sXsy7n5Sjb
  • Why Shauna Niequist is giving up on perfect @sniequist #presentoverperfect https://t.co/sXsy7n5Sjb
  • @KuoAlexandria Thanks for sharing!
  • RT @KuoAlexandria: In light of current events, great advice 4 Christian women @CT_Women : "Six Tips for Women Afraid to Talk Politics" http2026
  • The lovely @sniequist is chatting with us today! (Interview by @AndreaPalpant) https://t.co/sXsy7n5Sjb


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
The Great, Maligned American Road Trip