Six Degrees of Sisterhood

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“Community is not just a group of people together, but with a united purpose, and at our best, it accomplishes the work of grace.”

By Jennifer Luitwieler | Twitter: @jenluit

It began unexpectedly, like these things usually do. I was hopped up on endorphins after a run, high on my own paltry running successes, confidently swaggering through another blog post about how running had transformed—transformed, people—my life and everything in it. My new friend on twitter, Cheryl, said with young ones, it was difficult for her to get out the door to run when she felt she had to do, should be doing mommy things.

I sent her a link to a recent post about how I was going to stop using the word “should,” because it connoted so much guilt and shame. She read it, then asked me to write a book about it, because, you see, unbeknownst to me, Cheryl was an editor.

But this is not about my fortuitous fall into publishing my first book. This is about how–as I wrote the book, and talked to other women, all over the Internet, I recognized a truth that always surprises me, even though I’ve seen it at work in my life for years: the strength of women in community.

As I wrote my book, and trained for various races, as I revised and edited and argued with Cheryl about grammar, I tweeted and wrote on Facebook. I read and commented on blogs and I found the most extraordinary women.

– I met Lee, who ran her first half marathon in a better-than-she-expected time.

– I met Emily who trained for and ran a marathon despite a failing marriage and the constraints of time.

– My friend Lee Ann decided to run a half and then a full marathon, coming back from a knee injury.

– I remembered an old neighbor, Dana, who kicked breast cancer to the curb and ran through some of her treatments, when she had enough energy.

– I met Aubrey, my soul sister, who ran a half marathon with me.

Not all of these women are runners, nor do all of them care to be. I met Beth, who loves me and knows me and texts me during Steelers football games. (She’s the only one I”ll talk to during games.) I met Suzy, who walks, and Katharine who homeschools five children and writes novels in the meantime. (She runs, now, too.) Melanie and Tasha and Kelly and Carrissa and Jenny invited me to join their merry band of Tulsa movers and shakers. I met Alise, who writes with joy and perspective, and Leigh who laughs, and Susannah who writes with soul and I reunited with Kristin, whose writing often parallels mine in topic, and with a depth I could never plumb.

Through Cheryl, I met Pam, who connected with SheLoves and whose first book, “Unladylike,” was released last week. Through Pam I met Idelette, who has done what we all have done—except in magazine form—curated a magnificent collection of friends-sisters-supporters who carry each other’s burdens. Through my publisher, I met Annie, who introduced me to Jennifer, who invited me to be a speaker in Austin about embracing the scary things God has called his strong women to do.

Some people think online connections are somehow as flat as the screen, as dimensionless as the pixels of a font. They think that without the luxury of being in the same room, something must be missing. I disagree. I feel a significant and strong connection to my virtual sisters. They encouraged me through the writing, through the races and through parenting decisions. This wired community is no less real, no less potent than the friendships in which hands can reach across the table for a hand hug.

Community can be anywhere and can take on more shapes and varieties than our limited imaginations can conjure up. Community is not just a group of people together, but with a united purpose, and at our best, it accomplishes the work of grace.

I am inspired to think differently, to love more completely and to pursue connections thanks to my community of sisters.

I wonder:

  • What does community look like to you?
  • Where do you find yours?

_____________________________

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Luitwieler is the author of “Run with Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo.” She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband of 17 years and their brood of wild ones, whom she homeschools. She just registered for her first marathon and likes to talk football smack. You can find her website here, or connect on twitter and facebook.

Image credit: Jennifer Luitwieler, by Marleny Marsh, MM Photography 

World Map Pillow: Source: etsy.com via RosaMaría on Pinterest

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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Comments

  1. this is exactly what I’m looking for. love it.

  2. This inspires me! Nicely written, Jennifer. You perfectly capture this new form of human connection called the Internet. I’m so glad for the great tribe of women as well as men I’ve connected to via Facebook, blogging, Twitter….my online community is real to me. Real. Different than my face to face community, yet real just the same.

    Thanks for this! And I love how you connect all the dots of your six degrees of separation. Ain’t it true!

  3. So thrilled to see you here, Jen! Great work.

  4. It’s been so great to get to know you and walk with you through this process! 🙂

    • I often wonder, Cheryl: What if I had blown you off, or not sent a link, or not been running….we were in the right place at the right time. Love you.

  5. What a surprise to see my name up there! I’m so honored to be a part of your community and grateful for the ways you’ve added to my life.

    My community is formed of the people around me, my family, the ones I talk to a couple of times a year, those I consistently interact with, and the people I know from all seasons of my life. Sometimes I’m blown away by the people that choose to do life with me.

    • Leigh, I could list names and names of people, but you were definitely on my mind as I wrote and thought. Community, and it’s nuances fills me with awe, as you know from reading my book. But more than that, I agree. I sometimes feel like Sally Fields. You like me. You really like me.

  6. Kelly Voros says:

    I was sold on the significance of online friendships when I watched a co-worker and friend find the support she needed as a new widow. We all loved her but none of us could really know the pain she felt. Those girls online had all walked it out, or were in the process with her. I’m not sure she would have ever been whole again if not for them.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “I feel a significant and strong connection to my virtual sisters,” wrote Jennifer Luitwieler in her recent post, Six Degrees of Sisterhood. […]

  2. […] have a guest post running over at shelovesmagazine.com. In it, I write about how I met so many of you gorgeous women. Take a […]

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