It was never my goal to live in a 28-foot Airstream trailer. Granted, we were very used to moving and living in all kinds of different places and spaces, but having to fit all of my makeup and hair products into a bathroom the size of an airplane toilet felt like a step too far. (And let’s not forget having to leave most of my shoes in storage—complete madness is more like it.) However, when Jeff’s job ended in December 2020, God seemed to be leading Jeff in this highly unusual direction. I, on the other hand, didn’t want anything to do with it.

Originally, Jeff suggested getting an Airstream so we could move to a different part of the country since he now worked from home (due to COVID) and I was attending my Master’s program online.

“How ridiculous,” I thought. I felt God had opened the door for us to move to Connecticut, and I wasn’t going to leave unless He told us it was time to go. Never mind that we had a mortgage to pay, so there wasn’t money for such a crazy idea.

The pattern of Jeff persisting while I resisted continued until three things happened. First, Jeff’s job ended, so the idea of selling our house began to seem like a really good idea. Second, I asked Jeff to talk to a realtor friend of ours about selling the house (she had no idea about the Airstream thing). At the end of their talk, she said that she had been praying for us and God had shown her a picture of a silver trailer, “like one of those Airstream things,” and wondered if it meant anything to us. (I was absolutely gobsmacked by this.) Lastly, someone from my church told me I would be “untethered” soon. This unusual word really got my attention. Between the picture of the Airstream and the word “untethered,” I knew it was time to go.

At first, being untethered seemed like a really good thing—well, apart from learning how to thrive in the 200 square feet we now called home. We were thrilled to be out of debt—no more mortgage—and to no longer be confined to our house in Connecticut. Even though it was a beautiful place to be in lockdown, I appreciated the sense of freedom that living on the road gave us. This newfound freedom included parking in Florida for several weeks while the rest of the country was dealing with winter weather. Whoo whoo! I began to think that maybe living in a trailer was going to be a good idea after all.

As it turns out, being untethered is really great until it suddenly isn’t. I initially didn’t have to face the disorienting instability of being untethered because I was still finishing my graduate program when we moved into the trailer. My little routine of praying, reading theology books, writing papers, and figuring out what we needed to buy at the grocery store kept me busy most days. (I had no idea how often you have to shop when you have a tiny refrigerator and pantry.) So, even though we lived on the road without a plan, a community, a church, or a job, I didn’t get smacked with anxiety until I graduated from seminary. Once my tether to school was broken, I suddenly felt like I would float off into space, and I panicked. What was I supposed to do every day?

Oh dear God. What have we done?

yellow and white no sign


Photo by Marcel Eberle on Unsplash

I responded to my near hysteria like I normally do: I started complaining to God. I cried and ranted about feeling completely disoriented and rather lost in space: “What am I supposed to do now?” I demanded.

I felt God whisper to my spirit, “Jeanie, you’re not lost. You are tethered to me.” This mic-drop moment stopped me mid-stream in my rant. It turns out that when you’re anchored to the Creator of the universe, you are not untethered at all. It’s what we call freedom.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa 41:10)

Before you get too excited, let me assure you that living in freedom isn’t as easy as it sounds. True freedom doesn’t mean we do whatever we want whenever we want. We were created by God for God and are not designed to live self-focused lives. The reality is, if we had no obligations and were not tethered to something, most of us would get bored and depressed, or we’d eventually go back to the things that provided a sense of stability and meaning, even if we felt imprisoned by them.

There’s a reason that God’s chosen people—the Israelites—kept pining for the old life of slavery in Egypt even after they were rescued; it’s uncomfortable wandering around in the wilderness with only God to lean on. (I know the feeling after wandering for three years in our Airstream.) It’s a true test of faith to trust that God will provide for our needs and that He is, indeed, a good Father. Remember, even when the Israelites experienced miracle after miracle of provision and care, the minute they hit another bump in the road, they whined about how good the old life of slavery was. I’m afraid that few of us would be different. Untethering isn’t all it’s cracked up to be unless you are truly tethered to God.

low-angle photo of pink and orange balloons

Photo by Madison Oren on Unsplash

Look what happens to people who retire; most look forward to finishing work so they can finally “be free.” They long to be untethered! However, being untethered often isn’t what they hoped it would be. In a joint study by Edward Jones and Age Wave, 31% of respondents who had been retired for less than five years said they had struggled to find a sense of purpose. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me. While meaningful work can certainly add to a sense of purpose, it’s not the be-all and end-all of why we exist. No wonder many of those who retire early seem to die sooner than those who work into their late 60’s. Other retirees survive by staying busy traveling or by creating a full-time job of keeping their lawns perfect and cars washed and waxed. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to care for what you own, but we were made for more than tinkering around the house, retired or not.

men's gray and blue striped polo shirt

Photo by Mihai Lazăr on Unsplash

Although we may dream of freedom, few of us are content to only be tethered to God. We prefer to be in charge of ourselves (thank you very much), so we feel like we have a sense of control in our lives. We like to make plans and schedule our day, even if it’s only to schedule a vacation. None of that is bad, by the way. The problem comes when our schedule, house, job, or hobby is THE thing we’re tethered to. When that happens, we find ourselves walking on very shaky ground. Ask me how I know…

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matt 7:24-27)

Sometimes, we don’t know who we’re tethered to until one of our seemingly-solid anchors comes loose. It’s only when a job loss, a relationship breakdown, or a global pandemic occurs that we are able to see the insecurity that resides beneath the surface. If you have had the fortune to have your shaky anchors exposed, be thankful. We don’t know what we don’t know, and ignorance is truly bliss. I didn’t realize how much of my security and confidence was in external factors until the day that I no longer had a “purpose” to my day: write papers and finish seminary. When that finished, the only rock I had to stand on was God himself.

Life can be pretty simple when it is boiled down to the essence of what’s important to God: love Him and love others. It turns out that, for me, this was easier said than done. As life slowed way down, I had to learn what it looked like to really spend time with God in friendship. I had to come face-to-face with my own brokenness, insecurities, and fears and learn to love Jeff more deeply than I had in the past. We had been through our fair share of challenges, but living together in a tiny space 24/7/365 allowed us to see cracks that were easy to paper over with busyness. We had work to do, and it was, at times, painful and hard. But God…

It turns out that when God is truly the one you are tethered to, it’s possible to face your greatest challenges and biggest fears with confidence. And that, my friends, is true freedom.

What about you? To what are you tethered?

This is a great time to pause and consider who or what YOU are tethered to. I suggest you make some time to consider the following questions:

  • Imagine what it would be like if you had nowhere to be and nothing to do for the rest of your life. How would you spend your time?
  • What is your purpose in life?
  • Are you comfortable with downtime, or do you tend to fill your day with tasks and projects? (Staying busy could be an indicator that you are tethered to what you do.)
  • Do you allow yourself to have a sabbath? Why not?
  • Do you ask God to help you make decisions in your life?


I would love for you to share what this post brought up in you. Reach out if you would like some help untethering!

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