Saturday, July 21, 2012
Ode to the Internet
This is part of a series on Stones of Remembrance as I remember the hand of God in my life.
Around the turn of the century my family finally went "online." We dialed-up our connection through Juno and had a monthly allotment of minutes. I more than used my share of the family's minutes reading and posting and interacting with "strangers" on a small Christian message board I had found by entering "I love Jesus" into dogpile.com or AskJeeves.com during the pre-Google-centric web.
That little piece of the internet was instrumental in my life and the initiation of a greater domino effect. The posts people wrote challenged me to think outside of my own view of the world and of God. It was the first place I discovered people who lived out their love for God in different ways than me. I met people there who became friends (and that doesn't sound near as weird today as it did in the year 2000 when "friends" and "internet" in the same sentence made you sound like a weirdo). There are a few of those people with whom I still regularly interact and I've met some in person. The message board is still there though I haven't posted in years. I'll forever be grateful for that little piece of the internet.
I was introduced to the idea of blogging, or an online journal/diary as it was called then, through a member of this message board.
I started blogs/diaries at a couple of members-only blog sites. This introvert who loves to process things through writing found a way to pour out my thoughts, the boring details of my day, and all the dramas big and small of my life to a surprisingly supportive audience.
Over ten years of online journaling has allowed me to know a small group of women whom I count among my closest friends and wise spiritual council. I hesitate to name them for a I know I won't name them all, but I do want to be a little specific, for you see, this is one of the only communities in my life that has remained relatively constant. There is my immediate family, my closest friends (that I didn't first know online ) and then these women. They know my story and I know their's. We have cried together over broken relationships, lost babies, and parents gone too soon. We have rejoiced at weddings, births, jobs, homes, and goals achieved. Our lives have criss-crossed across continents and oceans. Many of us wrote through our college years and those scary first steps into the real world. Those of who can, see each other in person when the opportunity arises. (I've been blessed to have a few of these women in my home, and wish I could have us all over at the same time for dinner!) We have been brutally honest about our flaws, rejoiced with abandon about our victories, and have let each other be the first to "hear" those precious things that were easier to write rather than say.
People say you can be fake online, and you can, but you can also be achingly authentic. That is a beautiful gift of this pseudo-anonymity that can become community if you let it. These women are a vital part of my encouragement and my spiritual community.
Way-back-when when the Internet was a new thing and scary to many people, I heard a Christian leader say, "If you're on the Internet at 1 a.m. then you're doing something you shouldn't be." My face flushed with embarrassment and shame, I became momentarily sad and questioned the places of community I had found. I soon realized that while the speaker had good intentions warning people away from the potential evil found in the anonymity and secrecy of the world wide web, he had no idea the type of beauty, knowledge, grace, and community that could be found on the screens that connected the world.
This stone of remembrance is for the Internet and its profoundly positive effect on my Christian faith.
Other Stones of Remembrance:
Scripture in My Childhood
The Church That Built Me
When You Return: Faith Refined
Posted by Nicole at 8:02 AM