An Ode to the Group Text Message

If you know what’s good for you, you’ve seen Jimmy Fallon’s weekly segment titled “Thank You Notes.” He waxes on about some of life’s greatest mysteries and quirks and ridiculous brands, but in the form of a “thank you,” so it’s a little kinder. And also hilarious.

(If you have not seen one of these bits – you poor soul – here’s a great place to begin. Ooh, or this segment. Or this one. Okay. They’re all good, y’all.)

Now that we have that out of the way…

This post is going to be sorta like one of Jimmy’s thank you notes. But it’s from me. And the object of my affection?

Group text messages.

Now before you go muting your notifications, do allow me to elaborate.

Group text messages have become a dear – and essential – part of my life in the past year. They connect me with all sorts of people in all sorts of areas of my life with all sorts of ease! (No, this is not a paid endorsement).

I have a group text with my mom, dad and sister, perfect for when mom needs to remind us of the birthday of a distant relative, or when dad has an update about car insurance. Or – most frequently – when we’ve all gone over on our cell phone data usage for the month and mom whips out the angry-face emoji.

I also have a group text going with just my mom and my sister for updates on all things Starbucks, shopping, spring break plans and checking account overages. (“WHODUNNNIT THIS TIME?!” -Mom)

There’s a group text between the members of our office (a total of five people, you guys). This feed usually indicates whether or not anyone is going to be physically in the office on any given day. Because of the nature of our work, my boss and coworkers are often attending events, networking, meeting with the clients we write for, or traveling to other cities and offices. So, sometimes there aren’t very many folks actually in the building. In addition, because of meetings or events, my Boulder-based coworkers often decide to WFH (“Work From Home.” I know, the acronym is a bit much in my opinion). And sometimes, I get their WFH notifications as I am literally stepping off the commuter train a block away from our building. And I spend the entire day solo in an echo-y office, rather than WFH-ing in my PJs. So, a lot of good that group text does for me. #Technology, y’all.

Okay, on to better examples.

I have a group text going with a group of girlfriends that I absolutely love. We spent a weekend in the mountains together this September and it was just glorious. We roomed together and zip-lined together, ate together and walked to events together. And in just a handful of hours, we knew something special had formed between us. A sisterhood. A bond. In short, the makings of a group text.

Now, we text quotes and photos to each other – some hilarious, some heart-warming, and some that remind us of each other and that weekend. We make plans and fill each other in on big life events. All with the help of emojis, through which most emotions can be expressed, am I right?? Can we take a blog moment of silence to appreciate the all-knowing, all-edifying invention that is the emoji?!

To enforce my point…below is a screen shot of one very special era in this particular group messaging saga:

Group Text

Despite the few shortcomings of the emoji keyboard – such as the exclusion of cheese, tacos, popcorn and other major food groups – there are many and varied ways to get your point across.

Anyway. Now you know why this group text – among many – is indeed a blessing in my life.

There is also a year-old group text message going for our small group, which I dare say is the envy of church community groups worldwide. We text out prayer requests, meeting updates, requests for snacks, birthday wishes, and ‘I-love-you’s. Other frequent appearances include “SOS,” “OMG,” and “send wine.” Enough said.

On some days, if I’m away from my phone for longer than 20 minutes, I will have dozens of notifications waiting for me from my trusty small group text feed.

In particular, this tends to happen when most of the group is going to a church service/birthday party/other miscellaneous event. For instance…

Setting: Ten minutes before an event

  • Texter A: “Is anyone here yet?”
  • Texter B: “I’m here!! But I can’t find a parking space!!!”
  • Texter A: “I’m pulling in now, right next to the orange van!!”
  • Texter B: “What orange van? The one that says ‘Penske’?”
  • Texter A: “Those vans are yellow. So no.”
  • Texter C: “Running late, but I’ll be there soon!”
  • Texter D: “I’m inside at the bathroom.”

All well and good, friends. But if you’re not attending this event, you can see how 65 notifications like the ones above might cause you some angst.

Thankfully, there have been many technological advancements in the group text message of late that can help manage the madness! Now you can add people to an existing conversation, give every person a cute photo to accompany their messages, share your current location so your buddies can find you (to avoid the situation above). And, yes – you can even mute all notifications from that one group that is texting you their every move at an event you weren’t able to attend. Hallelujah for that.

All of this is to say that 1) it’s truly a great time to be alive, in the era of the group text message, and 2) I am really just all-out thankful for these people. My beloved group-texters.

The ones that love me well and enough to text me dozens of times an hour and invite me to church with them. The ones that include me and put a little photo of me in their phone next to my contact info. The ones who have the sunflowers next to their names (you know who you are).

I am incredibly, deeply, cup-overflowing-ly happy in this season of my life. I have friends who are kind, wise, giving and visionary people, and they want to hang out with me just as much as I love to hang out with them. What a treasure this is. I am discovering my gifts and trying to steward them well, which is thrilling and terrifying at once, the best kind of adventure. I am growing and walking with God in ways that I used to think were out of reach for me, which testifies every day to His goodness and kindness towards His beloved.

Now, not all of this can be attributed to the all-mighty group text message. But the people behind those group texts? Yeah, they get some credit.

They remind me that I am worthy, not just because of my notifications, but because of who I am in Christ. They affirm me with their birthday wishes and gentle reminders to look for God’s fingerprints on this earth. They make me laugh out loud (Natalie, I’m looking at you, kid) and cry tears of gratitude. And, when texting just doesn’t cut it, they bring wine and snacks over to my house, or invite me over to their place for pizza, for which I will forever be in their debt.

My coworkers. Mom, Dad and Natalie. Team Freedom. The Sunflowers.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your 65 notifications an hour.

There are not (yet) enough emojis in the world to express my love for you.

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