Saturday was the best day of weather we have had all year. It was in the mid 70’s and the sun was shining high in the sky. (Just for some perspective it was 34 and snowed 6 inches the previous weekend.) You would expect that I would be outside basking in the sun, replenishing my vitamin D.
Instead, I did something strange.
What was so strange?
- I spent the whole sun-filled afternoon inside, in a room with no windows.
- I went to meet a bunch of strangers, in fact there was a room full of them. I had only met a handful of them in person once before, at the last (in)rl conference.
- There were others I had met online and couldn’t wait to see them face to face. In fact, when I did I even hugged them (Gasp!).
And you know what, it was awesome! (Yes, I am still an introvert, but so were many of the others. We understood each others awkward moments.)
Anna and Amanda, our amazing hosts, made it so much easier to build community, even in this little bit of time we had together.
What made it easier?
- We had a Twitter chat a couple of nights before the conference. It was fun to get to know all the other gals that would be coming and already start sharing our reflections on community and prayers.
- I was afraid of going into this big group, but wouldn’t you know it, God had sovereignly placed me at a table of “kindred spirits”, as Anne Shirley would say.
- Anna and Amanda had a little ice breaker that got us out of our seats to meet everyone else face to face.
- We had discussion questions after the videos to go deeper. I think God truly used this time to stretch our thoughts, share our hearts, and bond us together.
- We worshipped God together in music but also in our conversations. He was our common bond.
What I learned about community.
- God loves community and the devil hates it. Do you ever feel the urge to call a friend and then doubts consume your mind? That is not of God. God wants us dependent on Him and dependent on each other. We are a body with many parts and need each other.
- Stay. Community isn’t easy. Like all good things it has it’s hard and challenging times. That is how God shapes us most is through our hard times.
- Just Stand. Being in community doesn’t necessarily mean chatting every week, bringing meals, sometimes it’s just you standing next to them. Don’t let your friends be alone, even if you have nothing to say.
- Bench. One of the women put a bench up in her cul-de-sac. Another woman started a book study in her home. Have a meeting place where you get together with these friends, share life, share prayers, and build relationships.
It could end there. I could say that was fun, looking forward to next year. That’s not what God wants. God wants us to pursue each other. So what are we going to do about that?
- I’m making a new “bench” with my new friends.
- Set a date and place. We have a date set but not a place, yet. We hope to make this a regular thing.
- Keep in touch in the meantime. Most of us met on the internet and now we have an actual face and voice to go with that person. We keep up the conversation on Twitter and are planning on a Facebook Group too. (We have been tweeting as I edit this post.)
I am so blessed by how God used this day and I can’t wait to see what He does in the future. I love all you #inrlMN gals and can’t wait to sit on the bench with you this year!
The (in)RL conference is a free conference where christian women meet “IN Real Life” and encourage one another in deeper connection and community, through Christ.
8 thoughts on “Doing Strange Things and Meeting Real People”
Yes! What a wonderful recap, Paula.
I loved meeting you finally — and thank you for the hug 🙂
(and would you know I wrote out and mailed 6 cards today…I like to think I’m restoring my bench)
I loved meeting you too! Good job on the cards! I love how benches can have all kinds of different formats.
Oh Paula, this is lovely! You put so many of my thoughts into words here. I’m so glad you came on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon =)
Thank YOU, Anna!
Paula, I love this post and your heart! I really hope to get to know you better. You just radiate Jesus with your kind heart and gentle spirit. I was so blessed to sit by you. 🙂
Thank you, Vicki! You were a blessing to me also. I loved hearing how God used community in your life.
Amen and amen! I am just filled with joy over all that God did and is doing through inRL and you beautiful ladies. I’m excited to get together again soon! 🙂
A fantastic capture of what (in)RL was for all of us! It was a blessing of a day and I am SO glad I decided to go and not chicken out!!