I have a love/hate relationship with technology. On one hand, it can be so annoying. It doesn’t always work correctly, resulting in us spending extra time trying to make it do what it said it was supposed to do in the first place (I’m looking at you, Siri.) Or even worse, it lulls us into wasting inordinate amounts of time when we could be living real life. That’s the worst.
But the best of technology comes when it helps us connect our real lives with the real lives of others. When it helps us stay in touch with real, actual people we care about. Or when it joins us with a tribe of thinkers who share the same heart. That’s when I fall back in love with technology,
I have technology to thank for My People, The Jujus. I think God might have had a little something to do with it too.
Around 2010ish I read a book called Is That All He Thinks About? written by an author named Marla Taviano. The book was amazing and insightful, and I drove my friends crazy telling them all about it. We even bought copies (and the companion ebook) for everyone in our home group that year.
Because of the book, I found the author’s web site and I was hooked on reading her blog. I found myself reading through current and old posts and constantly saying things to myself like YES! Me too! I know, right?!
This lady was My People already. Marla’s writing was frank, funny, and real. The way she talked about Jesus sounded like the same exact Jesus in the bible, y’all! He wasn’t some Fix-it Felix in the sky or some weak doormat. He was The Savior of us all, just showing the world how to love and be loved.
And Marla seemed like a normal person. She shared her everyday thoughts and struggles and highs and lows. She questioned and wondered and had bad days like everyone else. On her blog, I’d commented on a few blog posts, which turned into mini-conversations, which turned into us realizing we were both about to embark on trips across the planet (me to India and her to Cambodia!!!) which then turned into emailing back and forth to share our feelings about all that. In those interactions I realized she lived across town from me. Before you know it, we were setting up a date to meet.
Since I was going to someone’s house whom I’d never met before (!!!!) I had a deal worked out with my husband that if I didn’t call by a certain time, he was to call me and/or show up at the address I gave him. Seemed totally secure to me. Turns out when I arrived, Marla was the sweetest thing ever. No axe murderers here. She and her daughters and I talked and laughed and had a great time. We ended up sending a text to my husband with a photo of me tied to a chair in her kitchen, held hostage by her three girls. (Oh how I wish I could find that picture!) Good times.
Kind of around that same time, a sweet lady I’d never heard of named Sarah was also reading Marla’s blog from the nearby state of West Virginia. She had begun heart-connecting with what she read as well. She joined Marla in a read-along group at her blog, and began the same process of chatting back and forth here and there with this new online-friend. Sarah was also a writer, with a make-you-think style somewhat like Marla’s, but with a little touch of southern belle charm. I hopped on over to her blog a few times through Marla’s as well.
By that time I was pretty sure Sarah was another one of My People, (unbeknownst to her.) When I read her thoughts, they felt a lot like mine and Marla’s—questioning, challenging, stretching. Just lovely. At some point Marla had also met Sarah, who brought her best friend Jen when she arrived on Marla’s doorstep (genius! safety in numbers, right?) and they quickly turned from online- to real-life friends.
Sarah’s friend Jen, a missionary to Honduras for 8 years, also shared the same heart as the rest of us when it came to figuring out just what Jesus meant when he talked about love, justice, mercy, and the like. She’s also a wonderfully thoughtful writer, although she would probably never say that about herself at all. Every once in awhile she would begin a Facebook post and a few minutes later shared a Sermon on the Mount of sorts. She reminds me of another Jen in my life, since she is more the quiet and reserved type. But when she opens her mouth, you’ll definitely want to be there to see what comes out of her heart.
One of Marla’s great gifts is connecting people. At some point she realized we all needed to get together. Our thoughts were so similar, we were all trying to apply God’s truth in new, similar ways in our own lives. We were each struggling a bit to find folks who wanted to think and talk about these things on a regular basis.
Not long after, some magic happened, and there we were: the four of us having coffee, closing down Panera, and throwing around ideas about solving the ills of the world. It was a beautiful, heart-building thing.
Friends, let me tell you how valuable it is to have People who are outside of your normal daily life to lean on. Sometimes you need vision outside of your immediate circle. Sometimes your people are too close to a situation to give you objective perspective on things. Sometimes it’s easier for those slightly-more- distant folks to hurt your feelings a tiny bit because they’re a little outside of your typical circle. This is what the Jujus became for me.
We’ve talked each other through raw emotions, how to love the poor well and live in the richest place in the universe, divorce, infidelity, fear about the future, feeling like we are living in two different worlds, trust, questions about theology, health issues, strongholds in our lives, longings that may or may never be fulfilled, disappointments, joyous occasions, social justice, white privilege, avoiding the Santa/savior routine, being thankful for what we have, trying to learn from things when we leave our past behind. You know, just a few light topics of conversation.
The whole Juju ideas came up in conversation one day in a conversation we were having about purging. Purging is harder than it sounds, especially when there is emotional attachment to certain belongings. Our stuff sometime symbolizes time periods, situations, or people, that are no longer in our lives. When one of these friends was talking about having a hard time purging, I mentioned that the stuff she was referring to add “bad juju” and she should get rid of it. Everybody had a good laugh over that one, and the word stuck around. From then on we would constantly throw around #TeamJuju.
As for technology, I’m so thankful for it because of My Jujus. Every week (sometimes every day!) Facebook messenger is our friend, allowing us to talk about whatever is going on in our worlds that week, even though we are all in different states and/or hemispheres.
But I’m even more thankful to God, because I know He placed us in each other’s lives at just the right time and for just the right purpose. He kinda always seems to do that, doesn’t He?
I am grateful to have My Jujus (and of course the Junior Jujus, led by Chief Jr. Juju Olivia Taviano.) They are each so uniquely gifted and have such huge hearts. If you have a chance in your life to have a small, dynamic group of friends that can take any question or doubt you throw their way and barely even flinch, then you know you are sitting side by side with some of Your People.
Friends, one of My Jujus is hurting right now. Jen’s momma is in the hospital due to some problems with her heart. She will be having a bypass next week, but for right now could you just pray for healing for her momma? Thank you, lovelies.