I Love adventure. For the last four years of my life, I’ve been able to trek across countless states, drive a ridiculous amount of miles, see incredible places, and do life with the most beautiful of people.
But on December 22nd of 2014, I had no idea that the truest of adventures was about to start.
Don’t get me wrong, there was no actual reason for me to “have to live” out of my car. It was a choice I felt led to. So I made the choice.
Turns out, it was the right one.
I’ve been praying for a long time on how to share this story. How do you tell the world that you lived out of a vehicle and on streets for more than half a year? Let alone how do I expect anyone to take me seriously from here on out? Truthfully, I don’t. I’ve dwelt on how I spent more than 180 days either in a vehicle, on a bench, bus stop cement, or on the floors of friends and people I now call and think of as family.
The first few weeks definitely shook up my reality. The back aches, early rising, and even an encounter with a police officer (wasn’t negative whatsoever) seemed to throw my world for a loop. Then, the perspective shifted. At some moment, I began to notice that the people I was encountering, work I was doing, life I was living was no different than if I was in a warm apartment with a nice mattress…except for one big factor. I was Alive.
I capitalize Alive because never in my life did I feel so mobile, able to jump on the bandwagon of adventure, and go.
I never “HAD TO” do this. It was a choice. That choice became my life…and it became something that I sometimes wish I could go back to at this moment in certain ways.
Maybe it was the freedom to tackle the day. When you don’t have a bed to curl up further into, a day looks a lot different.
Maybe it was the opportunity for connection. When you don’t have a home or apartment to retreat to, you tend to spend almost every waking minute in a coffee shop or social environment.
Maybe it was the flexibility. When your home technically can be parked anywhere, you take it to beaches and boardwalks just to live a day experiencing a new place.
Maybe it was the secrecy. When you can’t take people back to your place, you find your “home” is an escape from everything and everybody…Except for the couple times the police checked up on me. (Kudos to every amazing officer I came into contact with. Each one never batted an eye as I explained in truth what I was doing and to this day, I still have contact with two of them as they consistently looked out for my car and my safety in certain parking lots).
Maybe it was the experiences I found myself having. When the days just seem to be flowing along and everything is falling into place, you don’t have too many thoughts of changing things up.
Maybe it was the friendships that were developing. When you can’t go “home”, you stick out late nights at coffee shops and meet incredible people with each passing minute. I can honestly say that as I sit here thinking of all the names and details of my friends, I keep tearing up because in time, you realize how community can reawaken a life.
Maybe it was the Love. When you give everything up, and find even more given back to you in forms that you didn’t know existed, you sit in awe of how good the Lord is.
Maybe it was the Hope. When you live out of a small sedan…and life still flows on, you begin to foster the Hope and prayer that speaks “If my life can be lived in this way, and still carry on, how can I doubt and despair in the days of blessing and shelter?”
But I can tell you that I’ll never trade the last 365 days for anything…I mean anything. Except maybe my lime green hat and my Bible.
In the last year, I’ve been given the opportunity to do life with hundreds of incredible souls. Seen and felt relationships heal before my eyes. Served alongside the most compassionate of persons. Felt my roots grow back in my original home in Michigan. Cried with friends…and strangers. Shared meals with at least a hundred different strangers. Slept on the floors of newly found companions. Witnessed Love spreading before me with each passing day. But most of all, I got to live every single day with a chance to be grateful.
Stories have always been a part of my life. I grew up on Sci-Fi, Fairy Tales, and Fantasies, but I never realized, let alone thought of my own life as a story. Intricately written day by day to look back on a life well lived and people Loved well.
Our stories are a gift. At times they can feel like a curse, but that’s only a passing feeling. Gifts were meant to be given…and the best part about Love is that at times we feel unworthy to receive it…so we give it back.
You know what Love does? Love re-wraps itself and keeps on giving until we finally open to receive it. Then Love celebrates. I promise you that it jumps for joy and does cartwheels around your world.
On December 31st of 2014, I wrote a blog post called “Because I said I would” . . . This is what was written.
I promise to:
Hold my relationships tight to my soul. To not forsake these precious threads that hold us together even when it seems tough or senseless to keep holding on.
Continually build, not destroy what blessings and opportunities that have been put into this journey.
Pray, hope, and trust in the One who breaths life into my body every morning, and who lays me down gently to sleep every night.
Treasure this life. Every breath is worth more than any dollar amount that could be placed into these torn hands.
Gladly help support those around me. No matter the cost or uncomfortable situations it may cause.
Trust in what goes unseen. (John 16:33) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Focus on not just on my physical well being, but my spiritual and mental strength above the physical.
Continue working towards becoming a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, and stranger worthy of conversation, relationships, and loving reciprocity.
Give my time to causes and activities that matter. Truly matter. Young or old. Weak or strong.
Work on giving up my need for control of the physical world. My job, relationships, money, housing, etc. Giving up this feeling of control might be one of the toughest promises I have here, but it is needed in life right now.
Love, no matter the amount I may be receiving from earthly sources. As funny as it sounds, in the scope of things, it doesn’t matter if I am loved here. I can be secure in knowing I am loved far more by Him.
Dance as much as possible. It may look horrific to others, but I’ve found that my inner self comes out far more than in any other environment.
Hug, kiss, and hold tight to others as much as possible. (this probably could have fit into the “Love, no matter” promise but it didn’t feel right)
Live. Every second…of every minute…of every hour…of every day…of this next year. I don’t mean I’ll be gloriously leaping out of airplanes or pulling people out of car crashes every second. This is to pledge that even when watching movies, listening to music, making stupid jokes, and other things that may seem like time wasted, I will not just drift off the path of promises and blessing He has provided with feelings of regret.
In 365 days, my hope is to look back on this and have a conversation with someone about it. Hopefully they’ll ask the questions, “Why did you do that?”, “Why make those promises public?”, “Why go to such lengths to make it happen?” . . . I’m sure I’ll have a ridiculous answer at that moment, but for now, all I hope to answer with is
“Because I said I would.”
I don’t have a magic elixir for how to have an incredible life. All I have are my feet to walk on, my hands to write and work with, ears to hear with, eyes to see with, a brain to think with, at times, a voice to speak with, my heart to feel with, and in all of this, Faith to depend on.
The beauty of this is that we all happen to have the same.