I participated in my first inRL this weekend with 6,000 other women all over the world. OK, maybe it wasn’t *really* my first, because last year I sort of lurked around the website without really joining in, like an awkward freshman at her first school dance. I didn’t interact but I eavesdropped, too shy to join in. I promised myself that next time it would be different and I wouldn’t sit along the fringes alone and invisible. (I promised myself a few things last year, beginning with the inRL conference, that I am diligently pursuing this year)
So when I saw that the dates had been set for the 2013 inRL conference I registered myself. Then I started stalking the meetup pages and watching for a meetup nearby. I was brave enough to GO, but not brave enough yet to HOST. I signed up for a Greenville meetup, and then I convinced my friend to go with me.
I watched the webcast on Friday night and was delighted to see some of my online favorites’ faces and hear their words in their own voices. I was touched to hear how community had scarred them and scared them, and how we should push past all that to pursue it anyway.
And then I dithered about what dish to bring for our brunch, so I took two. I nearly panicked when the cake I made stuck to the pan. I couldn’t decide what to wear. I spent way too much time on my appearance (while trying to look like I wasn’t trying too hard). And then on a rainy Saturday in upstate SC, my friend Sylvia and I set out to meet some new friends.
I wondered how it would go. Would we have anything in common? Would Sylvia and I spend the whole time talking to each other? Would we discover we knew some of the same people? Yes, no and not that I know of.
Our hostess was so gracious and welcoming, her home was absolutely lovely, and our group of eight ladies found plenty to talk about. I don’t think there was a conversational lull the entire time. In Matthew 18:20 God says that where two or more of us are gathered in His name, He is there, and He was there Saturday. He was there when we shared stories of adoption. He was there when we compared notes about parenting teenagers. He was there when we talked about what community means to us, and why it matters so much, and how it can be so hard to stay when your every instinct tells you to run away. We came from so many different directions and towns, yet we found plenty of common ground.
What a breath of fresh air to be able to gather with sisters and just…be. No need to try to impress anyone or be something I wasn’t. I learned a lot about myself on Saturday too: I am brave. I do know how to make friends. A group of women who have Christ in common have the most important commonality there is. And if you put enough glaze on it, no one will care that the top broke off the chocolate chip pound cake.
Next year? I’ll definitely be back.