It has been a couple of months since I served behind the scenes at a Christian conference. This conference featured prominent teachers, leaders, authors, and bloggers from circles I follow. I am still processing why I left there slightly disillusioned.
Today I have come to one conclusion. The women who came into the room to eat that day were not my friends. The women whose writing and teaching and art impacted my life, these women did not do anything wrong. I have no back stage stories of obnoxiousness or pride.
I was part of the hospitality team in charge of receiving food deliveries and getting it to the right rooms and making it available to all the people appearing on stage at the conference. At one point, people poured into the room, chatting with each other, grabbing food before they were off to their next responsibility at the conference.
I knew who a handful of these women were. I had either read or heard personal details of their lives in their books or on social media. I felt I knew them. They shared a part of themselves with me and thousands of others. Their stories have strengthened and inspired me when I was in bad shape. Honest words of wisdom and experience have pierced me and challenged me.
Here is the problem though. When I looked at their faces I knew their names. When I looked at their faces I knew part of their stories. In some way I was connected to them. But when they looked at my face, wait, actually they didn’t look at my face. If they would have looked at my face, they wouldn’t have known my name. They wouldn’t have known any details of my story, my life, my struggles. They were not connected to me like I was to them. They had no idea I knew anything about them at all.
I left the room while they ate and talked. I felt like I was invading their privacy, watching them eat, knowing their names but on the outside looking in. It was a strange sensation, feeling disappointed when no one did anything wrong.
Weeks later it hit me, they are not my friends. They have been my teachers. They have been examples to follow. They have been truth-tellers in my life. But they are not my friends. It is just not possible. And it is ok. But it is quite a thing to become attached to people through books, public speaking, and blogging. I do not have all the answers to this phenomenon. But, for those of us who find ourselves in it, I think we need to be aware of this false intimacy.
I decided to “unfollow” and “unfriend” them for a while to provide some separation and see what surfaces. Again, this is not about anything they did wrong. This is my issue and I am working through it. I decided to share it because I think I might not be the only one.