As news in the world grows grimmer, it is more important than ever that we forge strong bonds, not just with our Lord and Savior, but with our fellow Saints. For most of my life, I’ve lived in the Midwest, where the number of Saints was small. But it always came about that I had a special friend or two or three that I was able to bond with and share faith-promoting stories and events with. Some of these dear ones have passed on. I know when they were in my life, they served the purpose of “mother” to my spirit.
When my husband and I served in the BYU 28th ward Bishopric, I was “mother” to a whole group of women whom I love like daughters. It was my turn to be mother. We had brunches, a writing group, and even a sleepover where we watched Jane Eyre, ate junk food, and talked most of the night. Going to their weddings and baby-showers has been a positive delight. They are truly like my own daughters and their pictures plaster my refrigerator, bringing me happiness every time I open the door (which is far too often).
However, when I returned to my own ward, I found that I really missed that community. Being a writer is a solitary occupation, and I didn’t know any other writers. But the internet is a wonderful thing, when used properly. First, came Facebook. My seminary students from twenty-eight years ago, now mothers of their own families of grown children, looked me up and found me! It was wonderful to rebuild this former community. I was very close to that group of seminary students as they participated in a fast and blessing to heal me so that I could bear more children, when the doctor had proclaimed it to be impossible. I conceived my daughter at the beginning of the seminary year and they prayed me through a difficult pregnancy. (I was a “visual aid” of faith for them). Then, at seminary graduation, I went into labor. These dear ones are scattered all over the country, but are part of my world again.
Then, Rachel Ann Nunes came into my life. I met her several times during signings. Finally, she convinced me to join the community of writers, LDStorymakers, of which she was president. (I am not a joiner-carryover from years of depression). But when I did finally yield to her promptings, my whole life changed! Instead of solitary writer, I now made friends with many other wonderful, giving, loving, delightful people whose life revolves around the Gospel and their writing. Instead of being competitive, as I feared, they live to serve and help one another. Through various Storymaker on line lists, we share our problems, ask for prayers, help with writing dilemmas, tell funny stories, and help one another through rough patches. The ego of a writer is tender and easily damaged. All of these people understand this.
When my novel, The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War, came out, I was positively overwhelmed by their response. I had twelve members of the group not only read this 600 page saga, but write splendid reviews on their blogs, on the DB website, on Meridian, on Barnes & Noble and on Amazon! I had one who even offered to introduce me to a film producer! Talk about support! I think I would go to the ends of the earth for these new friends. The ones who live near me, I have met now, and we get together in the real world, not just the cyberworld. Again, I am in the position of mother to many of them. We are a family of people who instinctively understand one another and seek to fill each other’s needs. There is no criticism, just honest concern and helpfulness.
Just recently, I had a very difficult experience. It was my “community” that helped me through it.
Isn’t this what Zion will be like? We will become a vast community of the spirit. As my writer friends and I seek to build the kingdom through our gifts, so will the greater community of Saints seek to build the kingdom and lift one another with their many talents and abilities.
The early Saints were bound closely together, depending upon one another for their very lives in many cases. Persecutions only drove them closer to one another. As we have this wonderful resource of the Internet, we draw closer in a different way, for we are now a world-wide church. Meridian draws us closer. Through Meridian, I met two friends in distant places-Texas and the Netherlands–whom I have since met and whose friendship I cherish. When we read this magazine, we know we are not alone.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to use Facebook or blogs or other means to build your own community of Saints that you can bond with and rely upon in hard times? Even though we are separated by geographic distance, help, love, and solace is often only an e-mail away. Heavenly Father has given us this great tool. Let’s use it!
G.G. Vandagriff is the award-winning author of twelve books, her most recent being a Regency romance, The Duke’s Undoing. After traditionally publishing ten books, she (and her husband, David) have created their own publishing imprint, and most all her books can be found on Amazon or BN.com. She loves to visit with her readers on her blog and website.