From the moment we discussed the idea – meeting up after her trip to Allume and attending Women of Faith together – and I threw out, “I would love to have you come and stay with us while you’re in town,” I was excited.
|Karrilee & my daughter at her school|
And then I was terrified.
I may write freely and with expression; I may strive for transparency here on this pixelated canvass; I may do my best to peel back my layers, lay down masks, and share the experiences that have changed my life in order to give others hope, but none of that changes the fact that I am an intensely private person with a carefully guarded world.
I have written here about my own challenges with community, and struggles with relationships with woman that have almost wrenched me undone. I am slow and careful, even with those who are near to my heart. I have boundaries. I’ll laugh and say this: let’s be honest, I probably have issues. Voluntary new people are hard for me.
I had hopes this would be different. She was the first one to say hello when I ventured into the Five Minute Friday Twitter party. Figuring out that we lived in the same general region provided an instant connection for me to grasp, and we continued to have conversations on Twitter and on our blogs. Those conversations led to friending each other on Facebook and more connections. As we wrote, we found one thing after another that we had in common and #kindredspirits became a favorite hashtag.
In the days leading up to her arrival, I tried to pack my days full of preparation so that I couldn’t dwell on any nervousness or overanalyzing (because that’s what my brain will do). On the big day, her plane arrived a little early and the text, we’re here in baggage claim, was a gift in surprise, because instead of a casual drive up to the airport with time to kill (and overanalyze things) I had to leap into my car and focus on arriving at the car lot in one piece.
Can I tell you that saying hello in person and falling into a hug was the most natural thing – as if I were picking her up at the airport for the fortieth time, not the first? As we drove back home, the conversation flowed so naturally it felt like breathing. Even introducing her to my not-quite-perfect home didn’t feel as difficult as I imagined it might have.
She has a family structure similar to my own, a husband and just one girl, and my girl fell head over heels for her (that’s the two of them outside her school in the picture above). We enjoyed the conference together, learning, listening to women we’d been waiting so long to hear, worshiping in His presence.
I don’t know if every encounter with an online friend will feel like this – a seamless blending where it seems our very heartbeats slip into a shared rhythm – but I’d like to think this is what I’ll strive for as I do this again; what you can strive for as you meet your own writing friends in real life.
This community we participate in, it opens wide and welcomes all. It has its ebbs and flows – how can it not? It is only comprised of vulnerable, human women, complete in all their flaws. But between those ebbs and flows, God’s grace weaves in; twining itself about and through our hearts to wrap over and cover those misteps that might occur. His grace also wraps us close to knit our hearts and allows us to share the gift of His words and His spirit when we come together in His name to praise, grow, and build community together.
Karrilee, you have been an incredible gift to me this year, and I am so happy and blessed to have had the gift of meeting you in real life and sharing time with you. Of course, now that it’s happened, I’m just plain greedy and want more. I stare at the road signs for I-90 and dream of heading over the pass – just keep driving past Snoqualmie to the other side to see my new friend. All in His time. Until then, we’ll stay connected in all our technological ways, and I will continue to be blessed by your friendship and your encouragement. Love you friend ♥
I'm linking up with Crystal Stine and company again today; joining the Behind the Scenes link up – where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.
My friend Karrilee blogs at Abiding Love, Abounding Grace. She consistently opens my eyes to new truths about God and reminds me to celebrate the life He has given by Speaking Life, Being Love, and Shining On. You should visit her. Immediately. I'm so serious about that!