I had a profound experience of connecting with a Person of Peace (in fact 2) today at M's dancing class. For 6 months I have been taking her every week in term time for her half hour ballet class. While the kids are in their lesson, parents have to stay in a nearby room to wait, especially for this group as they still need help with the toilet and the teachers won't do that!
In all that time, I have sat while other mums around me have talked across me and ignored me, carrying on their own conversations because they know each other from the school gates or nursery schools. They are usually in these conversations before they enter the room and it's been difficult to interrupt or even know what on earth they are talking about! It has been a lonely experience and one which has made me question myself, as a normally extroverted and friendly and chatty person. Something about the environment and everyone knowing someone else made me feel incredibly excluded. I have tried a couple of times to chat - and twice had a great conversation and was able to share about my job and about M's eyes and how we have seen God's hand at work in their improvement. But BOTH times, the week after, that mum was nowhere to be seen and hasn't been back since...was it something I said??!!
Since we moved church in January, we have been conscious of how much M has missed her friends at 'red church' as she calls it. We've tried to keep connected with 'red church' friends but it's hard when lives often change course because of different circles. We were worried that too much too-ing and fro-ing would make her unsettled as she asked 'when are we going back to red church' a few times. So we have concentrated on her friends and connections at nursery and 'yellow church' (it's all to do with brick colour!!)
But during this week, while I was away at Pilgrimage in Sheffield, I really felt God prompt me to not be so embarrassed or precious or irritated about not being included in the dancing mum's conversation and not to be scarred by previous experiences. In the context of missional communities and extending God's kingdom in our community, I was made aware that the attitude problem came from me and that I should pray for a person of peace in that arena and see what happened. So I did.
And today, the room we would normally gather in while the class was going on was being used by another group. It meant we had to stand in the foyer bit for 10 minutes....and conversation started because I mentioned out loud that the group in the room had a lot of technology with them (speakers, projector etc) which might take a while to pack up.... The mum out there with me at that point agreed and said she noticed I always had my laptop with me and was it for my work? It opened the conversation...not for long, but it was a start!
And then, another mum came in whose little girl was starting the class today, She had a baby with her who was feeding from a bottle and while baby was busy she started asking me some questions about how the class worked and whether M enjoyed it. She was so engaging and said that her daughter was nervous about starting but was pleased there were other girls there. M had helped things along by taking this little girl's hand and saying 'you can follow me' when she first arrived.
So, I'm thanking God tonight for his opening of these opportunities and for using M in it with me!