In the spring of 2006 I was working at a Christian bookstore in Cincinnati. There was this guy that always came in, and I will admit I thought he was awfully cute. He always bought like a dozen books by Donald Miller called Blue Like Jazz. In what might be the most pitiful flirting attempt in the history of flirting I asked him why he kept buying so many of the books. (I may or may not have fluttered my eyelashes and choked on my own spit as well...but I can't confirm or deny those things)
He started telling me about Blue Like Jazz and then he gave me one of the copies he just bought. (I can't be sure, but I think that means we were briefly engaged) I devoured the book and loved it. I googled the crap out of Donald Miller and ultimately stumbled across the Don Miller Forum.
I seem to sometimes come across as this person that spends a lot of time on the internet, but in early 2006, I didn't even have a Myspace people. I only communicated by email and I barely sent texts, it was like the technological dark ages!
So I lurked and lurked, posted once in March and lurked some more. Then I finally posted in September and haven't stopped since. (Dan would like you to know that's all thanks to him btw)
It seems silly sometimes, to try to explain this affection that has grown out of that community. It's become more than just people posting about Don Miller. In about 3 days 3 people that I only know because of that place are coming to hang out at my house for the weekend. There are also 3 other people coming to see 1 of them because of the way the Internets have connected us.
On DMF I've refined my beliefs and learned how to argue. I've completely fallen apart and been pieced back together. I've verbally bitch slapped and been bitch slapped myself. People have wandered in and out and back again and they all have added something valuable to the community.
We talk about Don Miller of course. But we also talk about the books we read, the music we listen to, the struggles we're going through. We talk about the triumphs and the tragedies, we celebrate and mourn with each other.
I drove to Nashville to meet up with one of the guys on DMF a few years back. Most of the people in my life were fairly certain I was going to be murdered. For all of my killer paranoia I wasn't. Stopher had met people before so I was fairly certain he wasn't a killer. He and I met up with Mel and Arian and the four of us drove to Chattanooga to see Don and Derek Webb. We met up with Jay and Megan. All of us were tied together by this random online community.
I'm more outgoing because of our community and more vocal in my opinions and beliefs. They encouraged me to step out and lead outreach and cheer me on when I talk about it. They share God moments and revelations and we all grow because of it. We talk about silly things and mundane things, we celebrate marriages and mourn deaths together. We're a community, with a bunch of people in it that just happen to have never met.
This might seem old hat to some of you that have been around the internet block a few times (floozies). But to me, I've grown so much through my interaction on the forum and have met some of my best friends there. I can't wait to have Katy, Mel, Ang and I all together this weekend. It will be so amazing.