You might be thinking that the title of this post is wrong. After all, it’s more often that you hear “Power TO the People,” isn’t it? But it’s not wrong. It’s the truth that’s washing over me as I try to process all that the last couple of weeks on the Great Girlfriend Adventure has meant to me.

It was over-the-top fun, which you knew it would be. Mary and I have been compared to the likes of Lucy and Ethel, and Thelma and Louise, after all. There were dead batteries and tickets from unimpressed state troopers. There was off-roading in the Jetta on an unpaved portion of Old Route 66, Mexican food OVER AND OVER AND OVER, and sleeping in a tipi, caboose, and classic motor court. There was a trip in a 40’s luxury train car and the life-altering view of the Grand Canyon. It’s the stuff girlfriend trip dreams are made of. At the end of the day, however, it isn’t all the fun that tops my list of reasons I loved this trip. It is the memory of all the people along the way.

You might remember my post from a month or so, ago, where I talked about my pulling away from community and relationship. While Mary had her own messages she received from the Lord through this trip, the message that was very clearly for me, was this:

As much as you love social media, Melinda, it is NOT real community. I’m using it to spread my Word, but you’ve been hiding behind it. I’ve blessed you with connections online – some that have ‘jumped the screen’ and grown deep and full – but you have tried to build your everyday network out of people you never see. Face-to-face, multi-dimentional relationships are what you’re built for, and how you experience real, abundant life the way I intended.

And then He started to prove it, in the talks we had with women who’d been betrayed in their friendships, an exuberant and joyful young mother, a former Miss America, a local meteorologist, a lost, hungry and homeless young woman, an old woman who plays drums in her church, a young Native American woman with the Sioux name for ‘Brave,’ some teenaged girls who are working to undo a lot of hurt in their pasts, an attendant on the train who loves her job, the wife of a former astronaut, three ladies traveling Route 66 for their 66th birthdays, a young couple learning to enjoy taking the slow road, a very ill national champion washtub player who was giving a farewell concert, and a fourth-generation member of a Louisiana plantation family who had a gift for story-telling. People from all walks of life, all ages, all races, who were thrilled to be engaged, and excited that someone was interested in them.

People like you and me.

The days of the trip that were filled with the most encounters and conversations turned out to be my favorite days. While I will always love social media, and the connections I find there, I now realize that real life is lived outside my computer screen. It is lived where I can use all my senses, see others’ needs and point them to the One who can meet them ALL, while I fill what I can.

It’s hard to be a part of Christ’s body, when I’m not in real community with the other parts.

If you’re stuck, like I’ve been, in a one-dimensional world behind a screen, I challenge you to move out from behind it. You don’t have to go off on a two-week road adventure to talk to those with whom you come into contact. Just walk outside and connect with the living, breathing world. I’d be willing to bet that you, too, will be overcome by the power of the people.