I am so extremely grateful.
I have an incredible support system (AKA tribe) that I rely on, that builds me up, that makes me giggle and belly-laugh, that prays for me and asks for my prayers in return, that talks with me about trivial fluff and challenges me to think and discuss weighty topics, that loves on and takes care of my children, that loves on and takes care of me. I am convinced that what makes this beautiful, tough, precious life so beautiful are the colorful strands of relationship that knit it together.
My tribe has sub-tribes.
I suspect yours does too. I have my gym friends, my mom friends, my church friends, my PTA friends, my old friends, etc. And, of course they overlap.
I have neighbor friends who dote on my children and celebrate them with me, watching our kids play together while we chat over a glass of wine, or helping each other out with child care duties. I have gym friends who sweat with me and sweat the small stuff (and the big stuff) with me, fitting in conversations about parenting, theology, marriage, and mental health in between reps or laps, loving each other with our whole hearts, even with accelerated heart rates. I have old friends who feel just like family. They are my framily who safeguard my heart and around whom I feel completely loved and accepted. And so on. I am richly blessed. I am so extremely grateful. I am totally digging my Tribe Vibe.
But today I want to celebrate an unsung hero of tribes,
my virtual friends. I have read a variety of opinions about how virtual (or social media or internet) friendships aren't real, aren't of real value, or are basically ruining the fabric of civilized society. I, however, don't think things are so black and white. I live a lot of my life in the muted tones of gray; I dig it there.
I think virtual friendships are valuable, vibrant additions to live, in person relationships. To be honest, I don't have a ton of virtual friendships that are completely limited to virtual reality, friendships maintained online without having met or ever seeing that person in real life. I have a couple, but I feel like I have several virtual friendships that are mostly maintained online, but also have at the very least, opportunities for real life interactions, and at the most, regular IRL (In Real Life, for all you guys not as super hip as me.....actually I Googled that to make sure I was using it right.) sightings. Some of these folks are people who I used to consider an acquaintance, but then through social media, I have found support, encouragement, mutual interest, and surprising similarities.
One of my VBFs (Virtual Best Friends: new terminology, change approved), I noticed has been following my new blog (Hey, did I tell you I started a blog?) and beyond commenting with her support, has also downloaded some of my doodles, actually used them, and posted photographic evidence of this miracle. She is a woman with whom I don't have a lot of similarities with as far as our childhood (She is a gorgeous Overcomer.), but one with whom I share a mutual respect and admiration.
A couple other VBFs I went to school with, but weren't then and aren't now particularly close, but through social media, we have witnessed each other's struggles and triumphs, and discovered a shared moral compass or theology. Knowing this about one another, for me, strengthens my resolve and fills me with hope and joy. My wish is that it is the same for them.
Another VBF, perhaps the first I thought of in this way, the OGVBF, is actually the husband of a gal I went to school with, and I became friends with him before we ever met IRL (Do you think I am cool because of my hip internet lingo?). A Facebook friendship revealed a mutual sense of humor and a shared tendency to err on the side of love. He challenges me, and others, to think deeper about my opinions, and suggests great reading material. We have totally rad nicknames for each other, we almost never actually see each other, and I deeply value our friendship.
My point is (Wait, do I have a point? I do.) I don't think you should overlook the value in virtual friendships. They can be deeply rewarding and add a few more strands of color to the beauty of your life.