In the 1930's almost everybody seemed poor,
some just more so than others. I was
the youngest of six children, and my Father had walked out and left my Mother to
face the awesome responsibility of feeding and taking care of all six of us.
We moved from my Grandfather's farm in the
country to a bug-infested apartment
house in a run-down section of the city, and I was enrolled in second grade at the
local elementary school.
In those days birthday parties were rare, and
the few that occurred were almost
considered the social events of the year. One of the girls in my class named Olivina
started talking about her birthday that was coming up, and excitedly announced that
her Mother was going to give her a party. It was the talk of the class, and everyone
wanted to attend. I didn't know much about parties since I had never had one, but I
could just imagine the cake and ice cream, games and fun, and I wanted more than
anything to be invited.
I thought there must be some mistake when the
invitations were handed out to all
my friends and I didn't receive one. Surely somebody goofed, and Olivina would
bring me my invitation the next day. There were only four people in the room who
were left out, and the other three were big boys who caused lots of trouble.
I finally had to face the fact that I WAS NOT
INVITED. Olivina told me it was
because I was too poor to buy her a present. As a seven-year-old it was a traumatic
experience, because I felt I was not good enough or important enough to be included.
The day of the party finally arrived, and all
the invited guests wore their best
clothes to school, taking extra care to keep them clean because the party was to be
right after the closing bell. They had all brought wrapped presents, and the teacher
put them on a special table to be picked up after school.
The party was the only topic of conversation
among the students. Each recess period
there were pretend party games as the anticipation mounted.
I didn't want anyone to know the pain and
rejection I felt that seemingly endless day,
so I held back my tears until class was finally dismissed before I blindly stumbled
home as sobs wracked my body.
Over sixty years have passed, yet I can still
vividly remember the agony and humiliation
of that experience. I didn't know anything about the way God uses events in our lives
to shape and mold our character, or how He works all things together for our good, but
that event had a profound effect on my life, and I determined I would never hurt anyone
the way I had been hurt.
I became more sensitive to the feelings of
others, and more conscious of things that
cause pain. Years later when my daughter had a birthday party, we invited the whole
class so no one would feel left out. I was able to instill in my children a concern for
the needs of others.
But it didn't stop there. Today I have two
precious little granddaughters, and it thrills
my heart to see their sensitivity and how they care for others.
I wonder if the Lord could have used me in quite the same way, or if I would have had
quite the empathy I feel for those whose dreams have been shattered if I had been one
of the chosen ones who was invited to the party.
© Betty Jo Mings
Scripture from: Matthew 7: 12
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you,
do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophet
Song: "I Remember"
An Original Composition
By: Matt Drollinger
Used With Permission
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©Silver and Gold and Thee 2004