I believe that prayer is a powerful gift and tool. It is how we are in relationship with God. We have a direct line to the creator of the universe and an advocate on our behalf that sits at the right hand of the Father.
We go to God in prayer to say thank you when things are good and to ask for healing when friends and family are sick, but do we go to him with our everyday hopes, struggles, or anxieties?
There was an incident earlier today that troubled me for the better part of the day. I was sitting at the local coffee shop with a friend while Silas played nearby. A woman walked in with two little girls, one of Silas' age and the other about half his age. She came and set her stuff down at a chair at the table where we sat. Her older daughter immediately reached for a toy stethoscope Silas had been playing with. He grabbed onto it and said, "noooo" with a whimper and made eyes at me. I said something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, Silas was playing with that." This upset the woman, apparently. As she grabbed up her stuff to move, taking the girls with her, she said under her breath, "actually it was just sitting on the table but whatever." In shock, I looked at my friend to try to gauge her reaction to the incident. We decided she was having a bad day and we continued on with our conversation.
As the morning went on, however, I felt like the woman was purposefully keeping her girls from Silas and was picking on Silas, telling her girls loudly to tell him "no thanks" when he played near them or tried to share with them. At one point, he and the older girl were taking turns with the stethoscope and playing doctor. I used this peaceful moment as an opportunity to get a refill on my coffee. When I sat back down, however, Silas was back at the table and said something about "that mom said..." I asked my friend for clarification and she said the woman had again done some version of her "no thank you" because she didn't like the way Silas was playing with the drill.
Shortly thereafter, while I was tending to Judah, she called out in an agitated tone, "excuse me, ma'am, your son is hitting my little one." I looked up to see Silas sitting still by a bin of dumped out toys staring back at me with his back to the younger girl. His hands were empty, but on the floor close by I saw a shaker tube that he had shook and hit himself in the head, comically. I thought to myself, maybe he accidentally hit her with the shaker, so I walked calmly across the room, apologized to the woman, then had a discussion with Silas about keeping our hands to ourselves and asked him to apologize.
By the time the morning was ending, I was an anxious wreck. I didn't say anything to the woman as we packed up our things and left. I couldn't shake that feeling as the day went on. The incident resurfaced in my mind as I was making dinner for my family. I stopped what I was doing and began praying.
I thanked God for giving us the gift of prayer so that I can come to him with my troubles. I confessed that my heart was anxious for what had happened earlier in the day. I asked that he would remove the stone from this woman's heart and replace it with a heart of flesh, that she might be unburdened of the weight she was carrying and that she might find joy in her children and in her day. I prayed that the Lord would take away my anxiety and give me peace about the situation, and to grant both she and myself grace because we are doing the best we can.
What happened next was humbling.
Holy spirit spoke to me and told me what I could have done differently and how to be more open to loving others, should the opportunity present itself again. Whoa. You see, the woman spoke to another pair of mothers that came in after her. She was new to the area and had only been here about a week -- I overheard this much of the conversation in between cautions to the children. She had probably come out this morning seeking friendship or just another adult to have a conversation with. I know having a toddler and an infant keeps me busy, but having two toddlers in a new town? My hats off to you, mama. You are doing your best and I didn't see that this morning when I failed to greet you when you walked in looking for a friend. Instead of saying, "I'm sorry, Silas was playing with that," I should have said, "Silas, why don't you ask her what her name is and if she would like to play WITH you." I should have introduced myself to the mother. Maybe she would have stayed and enjoyed conversation with myself and my friend. Maybe we would have all left friends with plans to get the kids together again. But I missed this opportunity to extend God's love to another mama who was in need. And worst of all, I missed the opportunity to model that behavior for my son.
I thanked Holy Spirit for showing me the error of my ways and for showing me how I can be better prepared for next time. I hope there is a next time, so I can apologize for starting off on the wrong foot and ask if we can share some conversation over coffee while our kids get to play happily.
Even if we never cross paths again, I feel better equipped for the next opportunity to share God's love. Better still, I am reminded of the power of prayer in every aspect of our lives and I am grateful.