We met in the hallway of the student union.
Her, a law student looking for info on student fellowships. Me an exchange student wondering which way was up after traveling 25 hours by plane, train and automobile. She overheard my American accent, spun around smiling, and grabbed my hand as she blurted “What part of the United States are you from?”
For a jetlagged, SoCal college kid in foggy, stiff-upper-lip England, her joy was better than sunshine. From that moment, she was my sister.
An American transplant to the UK, this new friend welcomed me in to her life. Nine years older than me, she had a row house in the neighboring village where she brought me home on weekends to stay with her two sons and her mom, who’d moved to England to help with the kids. Their family had this joy, this sense of adventure, this love for the sweet, quirky things of England that only another foreigner would appreciate.
But what captivated me more than anything about her was the way she dreamed about life. This newly single mother, with so few resources she couldn’t get back to the states with her kids, saw a need for other struggling families to have access to better legal help. She’d enrolled in one of the best law programs in the country—on faith—and rode the train 1 hour each way to school, balancing assignments with parenting—on faith—so she could fill this need and follow her dream.
In evenings we’d talk over tea and dream of what God could do in each of our lives.
When she got discouraged with the juggling, the workload, she’d stop studying and invite me to pray that God would give us both strength in our journeys. Then she’d get that twinkle in her eye and indulge visions of being the first American born female barrister (judge) in England. Her excitement fueled us both for the study hours that followed.
At the end of that year abroad, I boarded the train that began my trip home. Through tears, I watched her grow small on the platform, the English countryside spread wide in front of me. And all those moments—studying together, watching stodgy British TV and giggling about it, talking of dreams, praying through struggles—came back. With them, some precious lessons.
What this friend taught me about dreaming God-sized dreams:
- God-sized dreams don’t depend on what’s possible. My friend had two kids, little money, the brokenness of divorce, low paying work, and only a partial scholarship to study law at a good school. That’s a lot that many would let become an excuse to shrink back from a dream. She didn’t let any of that stop her. Because she knew in her soul that this too-big dream would happen only in the hands of the bigger-than-all God.
- Dreaming costs us, and every “penny” is worth it. She paid in train tickets, books, bus passes, sleep, and hours away from her sons. She paid in ridicule from British students who thought her career choice misguided. She paid in faith, when everything else was waning and she wasn’t quite sure how it would come together. Dreams do cost us, but she knew that the cost of NOT following them was a price far too high to pay.
- God-sized dreams don’t stop there. They inspire more dreams. Her own dream sparked by conversations with women in her situation, she knew relationship is where dreams live. So she made friends, welcomed people into her life, and talked of her dreams. It led to countless conversations that sparked dreams in others—their own, personalized God-inspired dreams—which traveled home to dozens of countries with the exchange students she met and encouraged.
I’m so grateful we met that day in the student union. So grateful she took the time to be a dreamer who didn’t just follow her own dreams, but invited me along for the ride. We lost touch about 10 years ago and I still think of her and her family in that little house. They’re certainly not there any more . . . as I hear she’s a barrister now.
Who has inspired you along your dream journey? I’d love to hear your stories!