Tuesday, April 30, 2013
About this time last year I happened upon a couple of blogs. Up until then, I didn't know a lot about blogs, bloggers and the online community that surrounds them. But once you read Lisa Jo Baker, Kristen Welch and Ann Voskamp you want to know more. You want to be a part of what is happening there. They are all bloggers for (in)Courage, a daily devotional website for women.
Last Saturday, (in)Courage sponsored an international "meetup" called inRL (in real life). There was a webcast on Friday night and then local meet-ups on Saturday. When registration opened a few months back, I signed up right away, and sat at my desk in tears feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit leading me. Signing up for this conference broke something in me. I have lived a life of fear for way too long but Jesus has been calling me to be brave and has held my hand as I took baby steps.
I subscribed to all the blogs of the local women and followed them on Twitter. Over the last few months I have gotten to know a few of the ladies through their blogs and conversations on Twitter. I've felt a connection to a few of them that is indescribable considering we had never heard each other's voices or seen each others faces.
But God has His plans and one of the ladies invited me to coffee with another friend. Crazily, I said yes and the three of us met for lunch and it was so amazing. The strangest thing happened though, I wasn't really scared. A little nervous, yes, but not worried about the outcome. We had a beautiful time, marveled at our bravery, and promised to do it again soon.
Skip forward to last weekend. The ladies I had met were unable to attend inRL so I was headed to a church an hour away and I didn't know a soul except through the internet. I have always been a nervous person and always fearful that no one will like me, that I won't fit in. This is not something I do, yet there was no hesitation. There was no trying to talk myself out of going. In fact, I was excited! During the whole drive my mind was occupied with the beauty of the day and anticipation of what would happen at the event. My palms didn't get sweaty until I was about 6 blocks away! Like I said, this was so unlike me I was actually surprised.
I wound my way through the hallways of the church, following the scripture signs leading the way. When I reached my destination, I was welcomed by the lovely buzz of ladies talking and getting to know each other and a familiar face from Twitter greeting me. The room was filled with beautiful women, delicious treats, gorgeous beach themed decorations and love. I could feel it from the moment I walked in.
I learned a lot that afternoon. I listened to some amazing women speak truth right into our hearts. But the biggest lesson that I learned was that when Jesus is present, we do not need to be afraid. And He was there, in the warm smiles and welcoming hugs. He was there, teaching us that if we follow Him, there is nothing to fear.
I am hopeful for the relationships that will come about from inRL. God really ordained the whole afternoon and it was so evident in the way that everything worked out. Even the next day when I went to my own church, my "regular" community, it felt different, better. I was so much more thankful for them all and felt the urge to reach out and extend myself farther, be a little braver, follow Him a little closer.