In early April, I took off on a solo drive across the country to attend to a family emergency. I didn’t know how long I’d be in California, so it was cheaper to drive my own car 2500 miles than to fly out and pay for a car rental. It ended up being a good call, since a car rental for four weeks would have cost over $2000!
There’s something both spiritual and empowering about spending days alone in the car (especially as a woman). I am a different woman after that drive than I was before.
While I could share a million little things about that trip, two life lessons stick out.
Lesson #1: Just because I can do it alone doesn’t mean I should do it alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d do the trip again in a heartbeat if the conditions were the same as in April. Even after the exhaustion and stress of traveling alone, I know it was the best option at the time.
However, there were many times I wished I hadn’t been alone. In some of those cases, it was borderline dangerous for me to be driving the stretches I drove.
The first night of driving, I drove through an area with active tornados (and even saw one). All my phone had warned me about was a thunderstorm, so I thought nothing of the weather until I was fighting to keep my car on the road.
Hazardous Road Conditions
On a later stretch of the drive, I crossed state lines to find rapidly declining road conditions and nowhere to stop safely. Reception was spotty and the roads were bad enough I spent most of the time going under 20 miles per hour.
In the middle of nowhere, I stopped where Google said there was a gas station to find none. At this point, I hadn’t seen more than two cars in nearly 200 miles.
There was a truck parked at the “gas station.” I broke rule #1 of traveling alone as a woman and talked to the man (through an inch of open window). Fortunately, was a kind traveler who told me the conditions got significantly better twenty miles in the direction I was headed. I was able to warn him that conditions were terrible until the state line the way he was headed.
When I got to the next town and settled into a motel, I was thankful for kind strangers and the support of my husband. He did a surprising amount of co-piloting, even from a distance.
I drove across the country alone and know I could do it again, but that doesn’t mean I should. God put support systems in my life and I’m a fool if I don’t let people who love me offer their support.
Lesson #2: God can be trusted with all of it.
For the first half of my journey, I was hurt and broken. I couldn’t see how God was working in the situation that motivated me to make this trip. I could only see the way things fell apart in front of my eyes.
When I was driving through Wyoming, I was praying about the situation. “How are you working in this? Am I a fool for thinking it was going one way when it’s going another? Is your hand even on this?”
I don’t want to say I didn’t have any faith. Far from it. But the details of our situation overwhelmed me and overshadowed the little speck of faith left in my heart.
Not long after praying those thoughts, I saw the mountains. And it hit me.
The same God who made these mountains has a hand on my situation. I can trust God with my heart. It will be okay.
And as I thought those things, I drove around a bend that allowed me to see beyond the mountains. Beyond the mountains that filled me with such confidence were bigger, more beautiful mountains. I began to sob. If what I can see gives me comfort that God is in control, just imagine the bigger ways God’s working just out of my line of sight.
I can feel awe for how I see God at work in my life, not knowing something even bigger and greater is just around the bend. God was going to do something great and I was ready to bear witness to it.
I don’t necessarily recommend driving 2500 miles alone during an emotionally charged family crisis. At the same time, nothing could replace the lessons I learned during my long journey.
God is at work and meets us where we are… even on long, reckless journeys.