Our theme for the month of February is “color.”

You’re doing it. You’re following your dream. During my last few hours in the United States, my friend Gabby gave me these words. She said them as a fact; I took them as a benediction.

When people ask why I’m moving to Scotland—and so many people ask: my friends, my family, the clerk at the bank, Lyft drivers, it never ends—I don’t feel like I have a good answer. Because I want to. Yeah, who doesn’t want to abandon their mediocre stability and jaunt off to Europe on a whim?

The truth makes even less sense. I want to because I feel something. A pull, a desire, a passion that I can’t shake. In the months leading up to this move, I doubted myself over and over. I’d be leaving my stable office job with a reasonable salary and solid benefits, leaving my community in Grand Rapids and in my hometown and across all corners of the continent, leaving familiarity for somewhere I’ve never even visited. How could it be a good idea?

But the feeling always came back. This tug deep inside me, like I needed to be somewhere old, somewhere different. I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t reason it away. And once the idea of Scotland nestled itself in my brain, the feeling gained one more leg: somewhere ancestral.

Pursuing a dream in English-speaking Europe is the vanilla ice cream with sprinkles of international travel for a North American. I am not taking much of a risk by moving to a country with extremely close diplomatic ties to my home country, where I don’t need to learn a new language, where I have cousins and aunts and uncles all willing to look out for me if I ask.

Going about an international move the way I am—no job lined up, no particular final location in mind—sounds like a gold leaf garnish. I see people’s expressions glaze over like I’m a trust fund brat: I’m just going where the wind takes me, no job yet, no plans, I’ll figure it out. I annoy myself with my own relaxed outlook, with the incredible privilege a move like this signifies.

It’s tempting to think I’m doing this myself: I paid for my visa, my plane ticket, my NHS costs, my accommodations, everything I’m going to do in Scotland. Congrats, that’s called cost of living, welcome to real life. But I haven’t been alone. My parents and friends helped me clean out my apartment in Michigan and move back to Canada, my parents offered to buy me a new duffel bag, my friends in Canada offered to pay for my meals, a family friend invited me to stay with them for my first few weeks in Scotland. I could say I would have been fine doing these things on my own, but my privilege is not having to find out if that’s true. (I definitely could not have done the cleaning solo; I am forever in debt to my cleaning crew.)

More than anything, I’m remembering this: if everything goes wrong, if I lose every penny I have, if this move turns out to be the worst idea I’ve ever had… I’ll be fine. Someone—a parent, a grandparent, a group of friends—will be able to cover a plane ticket back to Canada. My childhood bedroom in my parents’ house will be open. This move is only a risk in the safest and simplest sense. I’m following my dream, because I want to—because I can.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Gwyneth, as your dream becomes reality, know this … you will become rich. Rich in the most important ways—in experience, in friendships, in adventure, in memories. These riches fill your heart for a lifetime. Financial riches fill your pockets for just a while. Keep following your heart and fill it up, friend.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Dear Gwyneth,
      You don’t know me. We’re friends of your parents we met at Granville Chapel when we were on staff for a couple of years about 23 years ago. when we had to go home to look after my aging father. And we have prayed for you all these years, especially with this decision to go to Scotland. We left Canada in 1957 to go to Mexico with Wycliffe Bible Translators—two little ones in tow. That was our adventure! We ended up here in the States after 13 years where my husband Hugh became an author of Wycliffe books, traveling the world. And I was his editor. We’re 89 now and grateful we made that somewhat scary decision years ago when we were 25! But it was with the sure knowledge God was leading us and as faith missionaries, He has provided all the way …and we have been blessed. May you find this true in your own life!

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    Praying for you in this adventure.

    Reply
  3. Kyric Koning

    Despite your assertions and doubts, this is still a rather reasoned dream. You may not have an end in mind, but you have at least considered where the path might lead. And there’s a whole lot of might there! What matter most, I think, is your willingness to take it. It is the people who pursue their dreams that have stories to tell, not those who decided it was too much.

    Best wishes to you in your new endeavors.

    Reply
  4. Avatar

    Gwyneth, you have never me, either, but your mom was a student of mine “way back when” and then served as my grading assistant for several years. Wow–Scotland! I confess to a bit of jealousy.

    Enjoy, stay well, be blessed, and above all, grow!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Make that “you have never met me, either.” Can’t stand those typos!

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    Thanks for your post and would love a follow up. Moving to the UK in 1986 with my family was one of the hardest cultural transitions we have faced–more than moving to Congo or evacuating to Kenya. I thought it would be no sweat, English and all, but in fact there was so much I did not expect and did not know about the Brits that I was totally unprepared for the changes, and that made it a hard transition. I hope and pray your transition has been indeed vanilla in spite of a lock-down on top of it all. We continue to pray for you and your family.

    Reply

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