Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Second-Guessing: Zumba, Nachos and Friendships

It's Thursday night, our first session of the retreat, and I post a picture on Facebook because the overflow has to go somewhere.

Shelly comments that I'm in her neck of the woods. I reply while the Zumba video is telling the girls what move is next in Spanish. I swear those people on the screen are professional dancers, and I was never that coordinated.  I wonder if I would survive the humiliation of trying and failing. Right or wrong, as writers tend to do, I opt for a computer screen and a keyboard over Zumba's public embarrassment.

The conversation with Shelly continues like ping pong. I check GPS and we make a plan to meet halfway. I got caught up in the moment and now I have plans to leave the women I've come to fellowship with, to meet a blog friend I've interacted with very little, actually. Another decision I think might be a wrong one.

I can't sleep because I keep asking myself, "What are you doing?" The pastor's wife, the leader, is abandoning the crew. I'm very good at second-guessing and self-criticism. A sleepless night ensues.

At breakfast, I feel trapped with no way out when there's talk of everyone's afternoon plans. Some are headed to the beach. Some are mapping out a route through the Tanger Outlet. They all have plans—with each other. I quietly bring forkfuls of scrambled eggs to my mouth, head down, hoping not to have to confess that my plans don't include them. The eggs failed me.

It turns out, 28 supportive, amazing girls were excited for me. No one else at our church blogs, and they may read mine, but they aren't blog readers or commenters, not really. How could they possibly understand this? But they do for my sake, and it's remarkable.

My worries shifted to Shelly and our meeting. What if we have nothing to talk about? What if she wonders why I dragged my husband along? I had already dragged him to the retreat, the only man to carry the equipment and set up and tear down. I couldn't abandon him now. My roots are showing, I look terrible. This could go so wrong....

But she's driven 40 minutes out of her way to meet a virtual  stranger  friend. I tell Mike, "That 's remarkable," and he says, "You left our church ladies this afternoon. That's just as remarkable."

We lean on opposite sides of the table, into a shared love for the Lord, and for words, and common blog friends. The whole cyber world was right there between us in the flesh. The Kingdom of God, too. We compared foreign missions stories and pastor's wife camaraderie, article writing, and nachos.

All the second-guessing and insecurity had failed me after all. But I was right about something: it was remarkable—all of it. My sweet church girls who love me so, my husband who's a good sport, and Shelly, the other crazy blogger who changed her plans last minute and went out of her way to meet someone she's never met, all because real community happens on the Internet but is even better in real life.




14 comments:

  1. I love this...I think it too courage from both of you...you risked so much...but gained so much....blessings~

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  2. You've learned the meaning of IRL. :)

    And I'll ask this: do you think meeting one "virtual friend", does this change the way you begin to think about all the others you've connected with like that without meeting (yet) IRL?

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    1. I don't know is the honest answer, Rick. I haven't even thought about that actually. In my second-guessing, I wondered if she would like the unedited version of me, though. I've thought a lot in the last few days about who I am in cyber-space and social media. Do we really, really, put our real selves out there? I think yes-and-no is the honest answer there.

      Blogging is becoming more difficult for me, and this might be the reason why. When I started blogging two years ago, I wrote for myself and for the joy of it. Now I seem to be much more aware of the community out there, and jockeying for a position in it. I don't like the way that feels, but it seems inescapable. It's made writing much more laborious, much less fun. I don't want it to be contrived, and yet it is to an extent. You can hide IRL, too, just not quite as easily. And that's the honest answer.

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    2. Honesty is still the best policy for all of the above. And I know that balance, too. I still try to right "for me" as the best audience, but it does mean something when a community grows up around these things. I've found though that meeting a few in real life has raised my awareness of the whole and the individuals, even if we haven't met like that. Something about putting flesh to it makes the whole thing more meaningful, for better or for worse.

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    3. "Putting flesh to it makes the whole thing more meaninful." Not for better or worse, but always for the better. It makes being honest out there easier, less scary. Less second-guessing in the future, hopefully.

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    4. Oh, I'm keeping honesty in there. Sometimes I've also found it's better to have kept some folks at a "virtual" distance. Not a bad thing, just a fly in the ointment. :)

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    5. In that case, Rick, I'm glad I knew you in real life first, and you couldn't possibly be talking about me. ;)

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  3. Glad it worked out for both of us, that we could meet inRL Dawn. And what an amazing group of women you lead. Says a lot about how they regard you concerning their generosity towards your time. God is good, so good to us. So glad we have found each other, you're truly a gem.

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    1. Shelly, I enjoyed our time together and look forward to continued blessing in a growing friendship between two God-loving writers.

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  4. I love Shelly! So glad that you got to be together. I LOVE it when virtual community becomes face-to-face.

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  5. how much fun to actually meet a blog friend!
    i know a couple in tulsa but knew them before.

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  6. what fun to meet a blog friend!

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  7. You are two of my favorite sisters on the Internet! So cool to see you standing next to one another.

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  8. Isn't amazing meeting those internet strangers, er, friends in real life?! In so many ways it is a closer and deeper friendship than those in our everyday world. Love that you got to do this!

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