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.Copyright © by Copyright © 2004 by Betty Jo Mings. Courtesy of HeartLight.org. | 0 comments