I adore the solid community I’ve found online. I get more encouragement from the wonderful women who run/write/read for (in)courage, Allume, and Hello Mornings than I do in my real life, multiplied by about 1,000. I honestly wouldn’t be waking up at 5 a.m. to work out, do Bible study, and eat breakfast if it weren’t for them. I’ve figured out who lifts me up and points me back to Jesus. I’ve found women who are known worldwide for the gifts God has given them and they take time to chat with me. It’s a good thing. It’s a great thing, actually!
There is something about this online community that I’ve found myself in that makes me incredibly happy and frustrated, all at the same time.
Let me explain.
I’ve always been an early adopter when it comes to technology, social media, etc. so I had no problem jumping on the Twitter and blog bandwagon a few years ago. I’d been on Facebook since it started (ahem…yes, child, your mommy is older than Facebook. and the internet. moving on.) and, while I didn’t exactly know what I would do with my 140 character posts or blogging attempts, I knew I wanted in.
Over the course of the next several years, I found my niche. A lot like real life community, it was trial and error, figuring out the voice I wanted to share, the topics I wanted to see in my stream, and the types of people I wanted to be around. Unlike real life community, it was much easier to build. I could add and delete people or blogs I followed when I didn’t want to read what they had to say. I could search for like minded sisters in Christ while in the comfort of my pjs, drinking coffee and watching Project Runway. I didn’t have to really try, now that I think about it. The introvert in me LOVED that – no fear of rejection – if I send a message to someone with 100 kajillion followers because she’s this AMAZING blogger and she doesn’t respond? Well, that’s to be expected. I’m a small fish.
When I compare it to the community I have in my real life? That’s when it can be frustrating. I’m busy. I work, wife, mother, and try to sneak in some time for myself now and then. Putting energy into relationships can be hard. You can’t just unfollow someone in real life when they say something you don’t like. It’s hard work. And that’s a good thing, too. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to try to make it all work, but the friends I have in real life keep me grounded, they help me become more than an online avatar who can ponder her 140 character words carefully. They keep me real. Mistakes, foot in mouth moments, weaknesses, chocolate cravings and all.
Community is sharing life. All of it. I want the community that encourages, shares truth, and feels like the easy laughter of true friendship. But I also want the community that makes me work, grow, struggle, and rely on Jesus.
How do you find community online or in real life?