Today is a beautiful day, so this morning my mom and Z and I headed to one of the FABULOUS local parks here. So, we are pushing Z in the swing on the playground, alongside another young mom and her kiddo, when a man walks up from the nearby track/trail and casually leans over the side of the fence. "Hey Ladies," he casually greets us while tilting his head. Now perhaps I am overreacting, but when a thirty something year old man in sweats approaches me (without M) in the park with that greeting, I do not think I want anything to do with him. Maybe an elderly man who looks lost, or a frantic dad who is holding a screaming child under his arm and says, "Excuse me, Miss" will get a response from me, albeit still reserved, but not this nonchalant, very eager to talk to me dude.
So once I realize he is talking to us, and is in no way indicating any need for help, I decide the best tactic is to ignore him. Maybe the gal next to me knows him or is responding, I don't really care, but I am looking at Z and Mom and focusing my attention there, thank you very much. So he proceeds to talk to -rather at us- because apparently all of us are making the same conclusions about the sketchiness of the situation and not responding to him as he continues the pleasantries. Well the pleasantries soon turn to an invitation...."Just wanted to let you ladies know that you are invited and welcome to attend....." guess how the sentence ends. To a house party? A singles bar? No. His CHURCH. After mentioning that he does not know whether or not we attend church,(yes thank you, you are a stranger), he proceeds to give us the address and name of his church, along with meeting times. There was no special event or anything, he just thought it would be of interest to us to know what church he attends and where they meet in case we happened to have been thinking about looking for a church home. This is all to no acknowledgment from any of us. With a sound of rejection in his voice, he backs away and gives a "Have a nice day, LADIES".
Now, I am all for inviting people to come worship the Lord or learn more about Him if they are interested. But I have never in all my "gospel bridge sharing" classes ever heard any tactic that involves a lone man approaching young women and their children at the park, leaning over the fence non-chalantly and inviting them to church. This man did not proceed to go on to the next group of people at the park and offer the same invitation, (which perhaps would have made me feel sorrow for not having assumed better motives on his part) but exits the park. Apparently we were the only persons he wanted to invite (there were some men on the same playground, I might add). So if this guy really sincerely just wants people to know about this place to worship, that's cool, but he certainly didn't present himself in a manner that made his target audience likely to listen to him. And that, I am sure, is a fundamental principle of "representing" for the Lord, if you will.
Part of why I reacted so immediately in ignoring this man today was because of the healthy way I am used to seeing my husband interact with women (whether friends or strangers). My husband has a rather admirable, and perhaps not overly common, gift for talking to women of all ages without making me, or them, I can pretty confidently assert, feel uncomfortable with the situation. Part of that is owing to the awesome women in his family, from whom he has learned much about the other gender. Part of that is owing to a sincere kindness in him, which takes his knowledge about us gals, at least in general terms, and applies it to his behavior to prevent situations in which he might be threatening or cause discomfort for our safety, etc. It has been a topic he and I have talked about recently, esp. in light of having Z as our own little lady who will one day be out in the world. It makes me very glad when I think that Z is growing up with this model of a real ladies' man.