I used to laugh (at least on the inside) when people met online. I didn’t understand how real connections could be formed like that.
I take it back.
I’m sorry I laughed, even if nobody actually heard me. I’m sorry I doubted the authenticity of the relationship just because it deepened through emails and Facebook messages.
My perception changed because some of the best encouragement in my life comes through emails, texts, Voxes, Facebook messages, tweets, and comments on my blog post. These friends of mine have prayed for me. They’ve promoted my ebook and sent real cards and gifts to my front porch. We may have met online, but they’ve shown up in real life – even if there are still some of them I’ve yet to meet in person.
These friendships are the beauty of technology.
I like Facebook for how it connects. I like my iPhone for how it makes the world a smaller place. Emails are like ongoing conversations with people I wish could be my neighbor. Plus technology helps maintain connections with people who used to live near and even those who still do.
Thankfully, I’ve got some amazing real-life friends who can actually come around my table to share meals and lives. I’d be lost without them. That’s why I didn’t think I needed to make friends online too.
But this new community I’ve found goes beyond pixels and font size. They’re another layer of encouragement to not grow weary in life and inspiration to continue telling my story. They pray for the people, sicknesses, conflicts, hurts, and decisions that are part of my real life. They praise God when healing comes and love is shown in my everyday life.
Just the other day my husband and I – who met long before we even had cells phones – were talking about how sometimes real life is hard. During those times, the prayers of people who aren’t right in the middle of the everyday-ness are blessings.
My family went with me to meet one of my favorite online encouragers when we were in Texas a little more than a year ago. I think they all thought I was a little crazy for wanting to go spend time with someone I’d never met in person. But they – and me! – have realized the in-person meetings can certainly happen after the friendship is already developed.
In March 2014, I spent the whole weekend with writer friends from what started as an online book launch group. Then my family and I met another favorite online friend of mine when we were in Chicago last spring. That time together wasn’t awkward like you may think it could be. In fact, it took our friendship to a deeper level – as did my other in-person meetings with online friends.
I have plans to meet up with a group of my blogging friends this summer. Yes, we connected through blogging, but our friendships go beyond that now.
I may have met all these folks and others online, but they’re real friends. They make me grateful I didn’t remain stubborn, laughing at the idea people could meet while sitting at their own computers. These blessings came when I decided to open up my life to community online, thanks to technology at its finest.
I'm linking up this post with The High Calling, where others are sharing their technology stories, and Lyli Dunbar's Thought-Provoking Thursday.
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