I LOVE traveling. Yep. Love with an uppercase L-O-V and E. Over the past few years, I’ve found myself traveling for months at a time for various reasons — school credit, missions, weddings and just for adventure’s sake.
From an outsider’s perspective, constantly traveling like I did can seem glamorous. The photos, souvenirs, stamps in the passport, food, culture — you name it — it’s easy to get caught up in the perceived perfection of a life in route.
Last fall I took a 3-month business-infused road trip around the US. While on the road, I found Kurt Vonnegut’s words incredibly true: "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." God used this trip to teach me, guide me, and show me more of His unwavering character.
THE BACKSTORY: About 2 1/2 years ago I accidentally started a business. It’s called Go Rings. As a senior in college, I started making and selling these little golden rings to raise funds for an 11 month mission trip I took to 11 countries. It’s called the World Race. The rings have 11 loops which represent the 11 countries reached and 7 bindings representing the 7 team members I’d have on the journey.
These rings were relief from the burdensome question on my shoulders at the time: How the heck am I going to raise $16,000 without sounding desperate or pathetic? Well, thanks to a strategic branding approach, the magic of the internet, uber-supportive friends and God’s straight-up provision, Go Rings completely funded my $16,000 World Race trip. Awesome, right?! I think so, too. Ok. Back to it.While I was finishing up my time on the World Race last spring, I felt like God was telling me to travel for the sake of Go Rings — to continue this business by traveling the country, making connections and learning about what it takes to have a successful brand. I sensed that this idea was from God, because I couldn’t get it off of my mind. I dreamt about it, was fixated on it, and just knew in my bones it’s what I needed to do. So when fall rolled around, I resolved to be obedient, take a perceived risk, pack up my car and hit the road for 3 months.
At each stop I planned meet up's with connections that I thought I could learn from — business owners, buyers, creatives, bloggers, number crunchers, non-profit gurus, and so on. I’ve found that running a small business requires my hand in to be in all aspects of operations. While the variety and responsibility are exciting, there’s no way that one person (or at least this girl) can be gifted in every facet of business. I know that there are so many areas in which Go Rings can improve. Like… SO many. I think it’s healthy to glean from those who have strengths that I definitely don’t have, so in each city I’d grab coffee with these people, ask a ton of questions, soak up their wisdom and usually leave energized or inspired. The goal was to pick up quality nuggets of advice from these admirable professionals that could shape Go Rings into a stronger, fresher, more focused brand.
So. I left in late August from my hometown: Dallas, TX. First, I made a quick trip down to Mexico to teach women how to manufacture Go Rings — it was such a cool opportunity to see our little company tangibly develop before my eyes.
After leaving Texas, I headed eastward making my way through Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The itinerary was in constant revision, because opportunities in different cities kept popping up. Staying patient and open to flexibility wasn’t easy, but it ended up blessing Go Rings in the long run.
At the beginning of October, I headed up the East Coast, getting more and more opportunities to spread the word about what God was up to with Go Rings. Throughout the Carolinas, D.C, New York City and Boston, I came across both good times and business-catapulting connections. Next? Westward!
I was in Michigan for the first time and spent 4 days with no business meetings making it from Chicago to Seattle. After learning a ton in Portland, over the course of two weeks I cruised down the 101 all the way down Cali, then cutting eastward to make it home to Texas by Thanksgiving.
Even though this wasn’t a “mission trip” — God had so much purpose for me in this journey. The road trip lacked consistency that I was used to having in both my business and in my faith. It was hard — no lie.
Looking back at the end of the trip, I could see that He wanted to show me how He works authentic faith and bold obedience for my good and His glory… even when I struggled to believe that He is good or I chose to not follow Him.
Before the trip, I knew Jesus wanted to grow my business and faith — but — by the end of the trip I realized that He did that in TOTALLY different ways than I had anticipated.
I thought this would be the most connected I’d ever be with God… I mean, I was doing this whole thing to follow what He said… right? Well, instead it was the most doubt-filled period of my faith I’ve ever had. I was so frustrated. I felt like a fake Christian. But you know what? It turns out that the doubt put my faith through a furnace. I had time to seek what I truly believed at my core and came out stronger.
With Go Rings, the connections I thought we’d benefit the most from turned out to be totally unattainable. I couldn’t get a lot of meetings that I wanted to. I thought we’d have more answers by the end of the tour. I’m happy to announce that I was totally wrong. He blessed the heck out of our business in ways I didn’t see coming.
When it comes down to it, I’m so happy that I was obedient and took this 3-month plunge. It’s neat how God can use travel to strip us of what’s familiar and make Himself more fully known. Truly following Jesus, I’ve found, is never boring. I’m thankful for His patience with me, the adventures we walked through together, and His promises fulfilled. Now, on to the next trip!