I can’t always explain a lot of my actions, though most of them make sense to me but not necessarily everyone else.
Like when I decide I need to drive to Tennessee and back in less than two days.
A few weeks ago, I found out that one of my favorite authors was going to be speaking at a free conference in a city not too far from Nashville, and without even giving it a second thought I immediately determined I would be in attendance. (I don’t travel much at all, but I do have a history of a couple of sporadic trips that made people around me question my sanity.) I checked with Google to see how long the drive would be, and I decided driving more than 10 hours by myself might be kind of boring, so I texted my sister. This is how the conversation went:
Me: Wanna go on a short road trip to Tennessee at the end of September?
She really didn’t ask many questions, which shows just how great of a sister she is. She knew I had a purpose, and she knew I wanted company on my adventure–and she didn’t hesitate or try to tell me I was being ridiculous. She just agreed to be there.
We started our trip on Friday morning, and I’m not going to lie: that drive is long. I mean, I know I went with my family to Florida over the summer, and we drove, but I didn’t actually do the driving. Lengthy road trips are a lot more difficult when you’re the one behind the wheel. There were moments when I thought our destination didn’t actually exist, and we would be driving on the same perpetually never-ending one-lane road for the rest of our lives.
And then we thought we might die, instead.
It was dark at this point, and we were on the last long stretch before our next exit. We started getting low on gas–very low. I kept thinking we would see exit signs for gas stations, but it was one of those roads on which you might find yourself stranded in the middle of a horror movie. I was trying not to panic, even though my gas light had been on for a good amount of time at this point, and we still weren’t seeing anything resembling human life in the area. There weren’t even lights anywhere. I’m telling you–it was beyond creepy. I started praying that kind of desperate prayer where you’re basically to the point of begging God to perform a miracle.
And a miracle we got.
We suddenly saw a sign for a gas station, and I’m not kidding you when I say that it was the only thing in sight–no restaurants or businesses anywhere. (My sister had been searching for places on her phone, but she lost service. Of course.) So we pulled into this gas station that was completely empty (the store part of it was either permanently closed or smart enough to allow its employees to scoot out as soon as the sun set), except for an eerie-looking pickup truck sitting in the corner. Oh joy. I filled the tank as quickly as I could–though I obviously have no control of the speed of that thing–mainly because my sister kept saying we were going to be killed by the owner of the truck.
(I would just like to point out right now that I filled up 13.193 gallons in a 13-gallon tank. I don’t want to hear your theories or reasoning as to why this happened if you know a lot about cars. I’m going to call the fact that we made it to that gas station a miracle and leave it at that.)
Thankfully, we never saw the owner of the pickup, and we made it out alive. We had talked about going to Nashville and going dancing or finding something fun to do that night, but when we got to our hotel, we showered and were asleep before 10 p.m. Party animals.
The next morning, I went to the conference–totally worth the long drive to hear Annie Downs say exactly what I needed to hear and then get to chat with her afterward–then I went back by the hotel to pick up my sister and start the trip home before noon. It turns out that super creepy road we were on the night before is lined with pure natural beauty, and I loved being able to see it in the light. It’s amazing how your perspective on something can change so quickly when it’s no longer in the darkness.
I honestly think one of the most important things I learned from this trip is that sometimes you just need people to be there for you. I mean, my sister ended up staying at the hotel to have a peaceful, agenda-free schedule to herself that morning, but she was there for me the whole trip. I’ve had some rough times lately, and she knew this particular weekend was going to be a bit hard on me, so she was just there. There wasn’t anything special she had to say or do for me–she just needed to be there. My sister is my favorite person, and this trip strengthened our bond even more. Being in a car that long with one person in such a short turnaround will do that for you.
Life isn’t always easy, and there will be times it feels like it’s spinning out of control all around you. But when you have people in your life who will come alongside you and either spin in the madness with you or help slow it all down, it restores the joy and hope in your heart that you probably never lost in the first place. You have to be willing to let those people in, though. Life isn’t meant to be lived all alone, and I hope one day I can also say yes to someone who needs company–whether it’s a bizarre road trip or just sitting on some park swings and maybe even saying no words.
Just be there–it’s often all a person needs to remember just how powerful love is in this world.