We often think of growth in linear ways. If I am producing an article a week, that is roughly four per month, and 52 per year. And there is something to that. But when it comes to TheJewishWoman.org, of which I am honored to be the editor, there is no way the growth can be measured in such a way.

Every year, when the “birthday” of the site comes around, I am amazed at how quickly the year went. I often call the site my fifth child. So, we are up to seven candles on the cake. Big girl! One less than my youngest daughter, though her gestation and that of the site coincided. It was at first only an idea and a dream, and over the years became a reality that has developed beyond my wildest hopes and expectations. And, like any mother, I sit here and kvell as it grows up.

What happens behind the scenes is what moves me the most. Reading through the comments and feedback, corresponding with readers, monitoring the women’s prayer exchange, etc. And here are three of the most important things I have learned in the process. Clearly, you will see that they don’t apply just to the site, but to each and every one of our lives:

1. Everyone has a voice and needs to be heard:

The site has never been about professional writers expertly sharing their words of wisdom (don’t get me wrong . . . we have many very talented writers on the site as well). It is about recognizing that every single person has something unique to contribute, and a vantage point that others can learn and grow from. My perspective has something to offer you, and yours to me.

2. Community provides strength and support unlike anything else:

One of the goals when the site was created was to have a safe and open place for women to share their lives. What continuously amazes me is how a woman can write about an extremely sensitive issue such as fertility struggles, or abuse, or a special-needs child, and the comments consistently indicate how many others were going through something so similar. Knowing we are not alone, knowing others understand us, knowing that even in our pain we have that voice, can mean the world. Can transform our world.

3. We never know the impact we have:

I always knew that articles could inspire and teach. Sure, they could make one laugh or even cry. But I have seen, on more than one occasion, how they can even save a life. I have had quite a few readers write on the brink of desperation, reaching out to say how something they read gave them hope, just enough, to try to keep going. Someone’s words touched them and made them feel that maybe life was worth living. Maybe they would be able to pull through. After all, if others could, then maybe, just maybe, they could as well.

Recently, I wrote to a reader to thank her. She hadn’t actually written to me, but I noticed that on almost every single prayer request that came in, she responded. She offered a few words of encouragement, some helpful advice, a note to let the person know she was keeping him or her in her prayers. I was blown away. Her name kept reappearing time and time again in the comments, and I thought how special this woman is, who takes the time to reach out to perfect strangers. She is one of many unbelievable readers that we have, and I feel so blessed to be able to watch such actions unfold before me.

So that is why, as we celebrate the seventh birthday of the site, that we cannot judge its growth in linear terms. Sure, I could tell you how many new authors we added, and how many more articles we published. But I could never begin to tell you how many lives we touched. And when I say “we,” I don’t mean me and the Chabad.org staff. I mean us and you. Because every time you comment, respond, react or read, you change things. And that change is exponential.

My husband sent me a great mathematical understanding of just what exponential growth means. Here is the scenario: You have won the lottery. You have two choices for the winnings. You can either walk away on the spot with $1 million, or you can receive one penny a day, doubled, for the next 30 days. So, which do you choose?

At first glance, a million dollars is a lot of money. And a penny most certainly isn’t. True. But that penny, as small and insignificant as it seems, gains a lot of momentum as it joins with other pennies. Here is what happens.

Day 1: 1 penny. Day 2: 2 pennies. Day 3: 4 pennies. So, not moving very fast here. By day 15: $327. Halfway through the month, and $1 million most certainly sounds like the right choice. Even by day 20: $10,484. Day 25: $335,544, and you know those who chose the $1 million payout are laughing. But then things change. Radically. At day 27, just when the month is about to end, you hit $1,342,177. Day 28: over $2 million. Day 29: over $5 million. And then, on day 30: $10,737,418. One more month, and you would be worth more than the entire global economy. You’d have more money than the world!

We are all pennies. Each one of us valuable, but our true power shows when we unite. Bring us together, and we are unstoppable. Indestructible. Exponential.

Thank you for another year with TheJewishWoman.org. I look forward to growing together beyond our wildest imaginations!