Friday, January 4, 2013

We Need Community

I am a small, new blogger. Five years ago, I wrote a blog as a newlywed in a new city, documenting our weekend outings and online wish list. There wasn’t much substance, since I was not brave enough to reveal my heart and struggles. The internet can be an intimidating place when you go it alone. I loved the idea of recording our story to see how God was shaping my family – yet I was blogging in isolation, and it was neither profitable nor fun. So I stopped.

 In October, my twitter feed exploded with two hundred women sharing about a conference that was taking place twenty minutes from my home. I kicked myself for not being there, because God showed up and knit women’s hearts together. Since then, the blogosphere has not been the same. I have seen women writing authentic posts about life. Women have been supporting one another, strategizing about how to grow their online businesses, and encouraging others through life. Women were connected, reading the Word together and spurring one another towards love and good deeds. And they influenced me.

 In November I launched a new blog, with a different focus and clarity. Before I published a single post, I scoured the web for advice and studied up. I pinpointed my brand and began defining my unique voice. I spent time crafting a unified design and learning about HTML coding. I asked close friends about my strengths and how to portray my personality online. Then I began writing our story.

 Even with all these strategic changes, the most significant difference in my online life was joining this community. I woke up early the morning after the conference, to invest in an early-supporter ticket for next year’s Influence conference. It became my motivation to move beyond fear. Instead of writing in isolation, I reached out to women within the Influence community. As a stay-at-home new mom, friendships became my goal. With a baby, I couldn't always make it out of the house for a few hours of girl-time or even connect with work colleagues, like I used to. But I could read posts, comment, email, and jump into conversation on twitter during my daughter's nap time. And so, I found women like me, with struggles and dreams, willing to let Jesus shine in their life. They have been consistently kind, encouraging, and real. I hope I have been that for them.

 You may be a brand new blogger. Maybe you were one of those 200 women at the Influence Conference. Maybe you have been hard at work, but need people to bolster you up. Join in, and I believe you will experience what I did.

It’s ok to be new. It’s ok to start small. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to join in, even when you feel on the outside.

 We can resource you with tools and encouragement and community for your endeavors, collected into one space online. Don’t go it alone. Find your people and let’s walk forward together into what God has called each of us.

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