So this week I was reviewing my blog posts and mission for doing all this and decided it was time I got out and put what I preach into practice more. Not that I haven't been, but sometimes I get caught up in talking about it all and doing nice things for my brothers and sisters in Christ, and forget about the work that needs doing out in the real world!
So I took a scary-ish step and decided to commit to going along to Toddler Time at my local play centre every Wednesday. I had attended a couple of different local toddler groups since moving here but not found one where I fitted in or felt at home. A few of them were a really long walk away so I was too tired to bother going most weeks. And then I discovered Toddler Time - taking place at 10am (so not too early!) at somewhere that is only a 10-15 minute walk away (no excuses about a long walk...). I am putting in writing so that I can't back out of it now that I WILL make sure I go to Toddler Time (as long as I am not on holiday or have a doctors appointment...).
The reason I am making this commitment is because of something I read in a book called "Everyday Church" by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. They said that one way to make inroads in your local community is to "become a regular" - to be the face that is always there, to get chatting to the people in the places you regularly visit and build up those relationships. So that is my plan. To always be there at Toddler Time on a Wednesday so that I become that regular face to the staff, mums and kids.
This week was my second week going and as I walked up I started to feel nervous. The first week told me that there were a lot of mums who attending in groups, so already had friends to talk to. No-one had talked to me at all really during the whole time I was there which was quite sad, but I have made my peace with that - most people don't like to step out of their comfort zone. So I prayed as I walked that there would someone else there on their own, feeling lonely and wanting to talk so that I could make their day and be that friendly person.
We arrived 10 minutes early because Sam had insisted on getting his shoes on and going at 9:30 (my one year old literally pushed me out the door!!) and were playing outside when I saw one lady walk in. So I figured that must mean it was open and followed suit. When I got in and sat down with Sam the lady immediately talked to me and said that her son had the whole place to himself for a few minutes which was weird! And we got talking. She had come on her own with her 14 month old, who Sam simply adored, and we both lived on new estates in the town. We chatted and the kids played and at the end we even walked back along the canal together.
It is official - I made a friend!! And all the time I was chatting to her I was just praying and thanking God for that opportunity and praying that we would be able to get closer. I am now gutted that I forgot I am holiday next Wednesday so wont be able to see her, but I am sure if this is a relationship that God wants that she will be there in two weeks time, ready to pick up where we left off.
So I guess what I want to encourage you all with today is to get back out into the world and make a commitment to something. Whatever it is, maybe getting coffee each morning at the same place, being a member of a club or a toddler group, commit to becoming a regular there and pray about it every time you walk to that place. Some people think walking is boring but I see it as some clear space to chat to my Father (when Sam is usually being quiet in his pushchair so I can actually hear myself think!). Pray about the people you are going to see there and about the conversations you might have. Don't be selfish about it - this life is not so you can feel good about yourself but so that we can reach the lost with the good news of Jesus (the first week I went to Toddler Time I prayed that someone would talk to me, but for selfish reasons - I guess God didn't like that prayer as much!!). And I give you all permission to keep asking me if I am going to Toddler Time!