I believe God orchestrated the “chance meeting” of mere strangers in an online forum over 20 years ago. He knows what we need right when we need it. Something drew us all into that forum. It was something other than our interest in the television network for women. I believe we were seeking companionship. We wanted to be a part of something and feel like we mattered (because we all do).
We formed friendships that spanned over two decades. While we may not talk every day or share emails as often, we are all still connected.
When Facebook entered the scene, we went from hiding behind made-up screen names to using our full names. Not only that but some listed where they were from and even their employers. It seemed impossible! How could we be this comfortable sharing information on the world wide web where anyone may be able to find us? How did we become so trusting when once we were so fearful?
Ah, but we love Facebook. Some have even become addicted to it and visit multiple times a day to see what’s new on their newsfeeds. Facebook has made us familiar with others and what we share online. We see pictures of family gatherings, which I love! We share “updates” and keep others in the loop via private messages from time to time. We are still only a keystroke away.
Isn’t it funny how things have come full circle? It began with an online forum all those years ago, and here we are after meeting in person and sharing quality time together, back checking on each other in another online forum. Our lives have been changed. We will never be the same again!
We have all gotten older, and sadly, some of our dear friends have passed away. We are forever thankful for how they enriched our lives and the imprint they left on our hearts. Debbie’s story was told rather briefly, but the impact she had on our lives lingers on. Fogel, from earlier in this series, left us way too soon as well. Another dear friend I haven’t mentioned yet is Rick, otherwise known as Heyou in our lounge days. Rick lived in Corning, New York, and he was among the brave men in our group. We connected on a deeper level and shared our lives through emails, posts, pictures, and phone calls. I never got a chance to meet Rick in person, although that was in the works at one point. He fell ill, and I respected his privacy. I knew he had his share of health struggles through the years, and his visits to the hospital were “club med” as he would refer to it. He shared the antics of his dogs with me, and we had many laughs over that through the years. I came to know his mom, which was truly special. As his days drew near to when he would leave this earth, his mom shared updates with me so I could pray. While we hoped he would recover, cancer had taken a toll on his body starting in his foot, of all places. He beat it before, and we were hopeful he would again. He fought the lows and highs of the blood pressure meds, feeling weak when his blood pressure was too low. He was a strong man even still and remained positive in every conversation we ever had, despite what he was going through. He was a bright light that went dim and was snuffed out way too soon. I will forever be grateful for the impact he had on my life and for the friendship we had through the years.
The stewardship of friendship is a reminder to use our God-given talents and gifts to give back and seek to leave the world a better place. We are reminded to take care of the friendship that has been given to us by God. Guiding us also for better interactions and connections in life, we value simplicity, peace, integrity, equality, and last, but not least, community.
Yes, community, where it all began.