Some months ago, I was at my stable block having just come back from a gentle hack. My stables are adjacent to a bridleway/footpath and I often see walkers with their dogs going up or down or families out with their children.

A couple and their young daughter approached coming up the hill and the daughter ran towards the rails wanting to get a closer look at the horses. The mother looked enquiringly if this was OK and I called over saying would the little girl like to pat the horse.  I found some polos to give her to give to the horse and she was utterly delighted.

A chat then ensued with her parents about how old the girl was (7) how much she adored ponies, where they lived and how they were thinking of allowing her to have a pony of her own in about 5 years time.  We were joking about her coming up to groom for me – them saying oh she’d do anything to be around horses and I offered for them to come up any time to enable her to brush the horse’s tails and manes etc. After about 10 minutes the mother asked if I was really serious in my offer and I said yes, and we exchanged phone numbers.

About 4 hours later I decide to have a bonfire by my stable and I was busy sorting it all out, when another family walked past – this time going down the hill. Again, there were the two parents and this time 2 slightly but not much older children. Both were girls and both were looking at my horse. But this time the mother rather grumpily hurried them on, and no conversation ensued.  Perhaps they were having a bad day – who knows.

I reflected on the fact that the first family, purely from dint of stopping and being friendly had acquired access for their daughter to come and spend time with a horse – whereas the other family (who could easily have procured the same) had completely missed this opportunity. Now who know whether the children of the second family were remotely interested in horses – but that’s not the point.

The point here is that two groups of people reacted completely differently to exactly the same situation (i.e., me being at my stable with a horse in sight) and got a completely different outcome as a result.

I wondered if God sometimes feels like I did. He gives and offers us so much. It’s there for the taking – for us all equally – and some of us take it gratefully enriching our lives in the process – and some of us hardly notice the invitation and ‘walk on by’ grumpily – wondering why other people in life have all the luck.

I’d invite you apply this thinking to your own life and particularly to the opportunities that you may have (or might walk right past) in terms of dating. Obviously, the example here is pertinent to my life and situation – but the learning points are the same for us all – whatever the situation or circumstances.  Think carefully at how you interact with others – and make sure you’re like the first family and not the second.

Here’s to your making the very best of all the opportunities that 2021 offers you. There will be loads of them I assure you – you just have to have eyes to see them!