Fourth Hoboversary: What’s Changed?

Saturday marked four years–and nearly one million blog views–since I started hoboing. It does sometimes seem that this episodic novel I’m living is monotonous in its constant change, but a look back at where I was four years ago makes me think things are rather more different than I’d realized.

Something else I wasn't expecting to be part of my hobo life.

I wasn’t this expecting to be part of my hobo life.

Four years ago, I quit my job, packed everything into my car, and started driving. I figured I’d be couchsurfing until July, then God would give me a place to live. Four years later, there’s no end in sight. I figured I might hit 20 or so states before I settled down. 49 states and 18 countries later, not so much. I called it a sabbatical, thinking I’d stay someplace quiet and have lots of free time to write a book. Quiet? Free time? Ha.

It became clear within the first 8 months or so that this was going to be a longer and wider-reaching ministry than I’d expected. You lovely people have read and shared my blog, invited me to speak, told your friends, connected me to people abroad, and all around kept me busy. And as this whole crazy thing has unfolded, I’ve found myself praying more and sleeping less, reading more and blogging less, falling asleep in chapels more and beating myself up about it less.

Also wasn't planning on employing a puppy evangelist.

Also wasn’t planning on employing a puppy evangelist.

Then I liked very little better than talking about myself. Now it’s all I can do not to sigh dramatically when someone asks me a question I’ve answered a thousand times.1 Then I was such an extrovert I couldn’t stay awake driving unless I was talking to someone on the phone. Now I’m thrilled when my host offers to leave me alone for the evening–and I detest talking on the phone.2 Then I was convinced I was going to be a consecrated virgin. Now I’m thinking God might be intending marriage for me.

I can feel the strain this life has put on my body; I might still be able to drive 15 hours in a day, but my back is no longer pleased about it.3 Fortunately my soul’s holding up better than my shoulders. I lamented last year that this life isn’t making me a saint, and while I’m certainly no saint, I can see areas where the Lord is rubbing off my rough spots using internet trolls, thoughtless hosts, and talks that go over like a lead balloon.

Didn't anticipate how often pieces of my car would fall off.

Didn’t anticipate how often pieces of my car would fall off.

There’s quite a lot that’s hard—though mostly not the things you’d expect—and quite a lot that’s lovely. There are days when I think I can’t possibly do this any longer and days when I can’t imagine anything else. Most days are both.

But the biggest shift has been in how I preach. For the first year or so that I was a hobo, person after person asked me what my topic was. I’d prayed about narrowing my focus and I really felt that I couldn’t, that I wanted to speak on all things Catholic.

“Everything,” I’d say, “but at heart I’m an apologist.” I was fascinated by the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism–still am–and was pretty convinced that training Catholics in how not to be Protestant would teach them to be Saints.

I'm not at all surprised by how many books I have.

I’m not at all surprised by how many books I still have.

What I didn’t realize was how very many Catholics weren’t ready to be Saints. Or Catholics. Or even Christians. I didn’t know how many people go through the motions without knowing Jesus. I had no idea that people would bother showing up to Mass–even to daily Mass–when they didn’t love him.

I was trying to feed meat to children who needed milk. And while I’m sure those were good enough talks, I was skipping the foundation of loving God and trying to build the turrets and crenellations. I won’t worry about who I missed, I’ll just trust that God was working even then.

But then I read Forming Intentional Disciples (which is amazing and you simply must read it) and realized that what people need more than anything is to hear the simple Gospel proclaimed in compelling ways. And I shifted my focus.

Had no idea I'd be spending two months in Europe each year.

Had no idea I’d be spending two months in Europe each year.

Oh, I still speak on confession or purgatory or Church history, but I’ve really only got one talk: “God loves you like crazy.” I just frame it in different topics. Basically every talk I give now is the kerygma (a proclamation of the Gospel). When I talk with individuals, I try to work it in. When I get excited about defending some point of doctrine, I remind myself the whole point is to convince people that God loves them and encourage them to live like that’s true.

So these days, you’re more likely to hear me say this than anything else: you are loved beyond imagining by a God who died to know you. It’s incredibly basic and the most important thing you’ll ever hear. Which is why I try to slide it in to every talk I give, even to people who already believe it. Because it’s the greatest good news the world has ever seen and it changes everything.

So it’s the same mission that it was, just longer. And busier. And more exhausting. And more focused on the one thing that matters: the love of God. All in all, a good four years. Please pray for me!

  1. Amazing that it took me three years of talking about myself nearly nonstop to get tired of the subject. []
  2. I still love people, it’s just such a treat to be alone! []
  3. My back is no longer pleased about most anything and I’ve decided getting a massage every few months is not overly indulgent. []

About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
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7 Responses to Fourth Hoboversary: What’s Changed?

  1. Abbie says:

    Dear friend, You’re beautiful and amazing. I am so thankful to know you. Your courage and faithfulness has inspired me and kept me from walking away from God’s plans for me many a time. Thank you for your witness. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your yes. A most blessed anniversary. May we keep on keeping on this crazy messy beautiful journey home.

    You are Loved and prayed for.

  2. Chris says:

    If the most important thing to hear is that you are loved beyond imagination by God and that he died out of love for you, then the most important thing to see is someone who lays aside their own life out of love for you – who goes “all in” for you, who sells all their stuff, who puts aside their own personal preferences to meet your needs, and who comes to you and meets you where you are.

    I’ve been remembering my dad today since it’s Memorial Day, and that’s exactly what he did. Among the stuff he sold was his ’69 Mercury Cougar. He never engaged in a hobby or an interest that I’m aware of in a way that wasn’t specifically meant for us to be able to enjoy it too, and he frequently provided things for us to become interested in. And when I did something wrong or made a mistake, he would not only literally be there where I was (sometimes to yell at me), but also figuratively as I never felt judged, but always accepted and protected wherever I was at. He had a lot of flaws and imperfections, but it’s hard to remember any decisions he made that weren’t specifically and consciously done for our benefit.

    I’ve only been following you for a little while, but your courage and dedication to go all in has really had an impact on me and I’m sure does on the people you meet. Maybe they’ve never had someone do that for them, especially if they’re a boy or young man and have not realized that setting aside one’s own life to serve, protect, and defend is what the love of a father is all about. “You mean she just sold everything and quit her job to come and tell us that God loves us?”

    Thanks for what you do and who you are. 🙂

  3. Jolly Janette says:

    Keep the good works on…May the love you carry in your soul touch a million more souls…God bless?

  4. Abigail says:

    We are such sisters of the heart. “Now I’ve got only one talk: God loves you like crazy!” Tears of recognition here when I read that line. Me too, Miss Meg. Me too! Happy Marian Feast Day!

  5. Nancy Brockhoff says:

    Meg, you are growing virtue and wisdom and because of your obedience, helping us get to heaven. Thanks for sharing all along your way. If you’re North Carolina way again, please stop and visit us at St. Catherine of Siena, Wake Forest.

  6. AnneMarie says:

    Happy hoboversary! This is so cool-to see how God has worked in and through you in just four years. It is such a beautiful testimony to the crazy awesome things that God does when we give it all to Him. Happy feast of the Visitation, Meg! Praying for you!
    AnneMarie recently posted…The joy of living out a vocation (thoughts from Corpus Christi Sunday)My Profile

  7. Jordan Webb says:

    I am a team member for an RCIA program for the last 10 years. We were really struggling with people wanting to come into the church for so many reasons that
    really had nothing to do with being in love with Jesus and His church. Two years ago
    we decided that for the first month of class we would not talk about anything having to do with church doctrine but instead would just present the basic gospel message.
    Jesus loves you so much that He was willing to be our sacrificial Lamb. To die on the cross for our sins. We assumed most people since they wanted to come in the church had heard this. Boy were we wrong. It was so eye opening that we totally revamped the way we presented RCIA. Instead of explaining the church in a very academic way we start with this fact: If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus then you can never love or understand His church. Jesus and His church are one. It seems so simple but the fruit of our change has been amazing.

    Keep telling people that Jesus loves them (especially catholics)

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