Lesson 195: 9 paper tickets causing your child's life to spiral out of control = white trash
Did I mention what this party entailed? At the party, Jude got to go bowling, ride bumper cars, play laser tag,he received 20 tokens to play in the arcade, and got a gift bag with large boxes of movie theater candy and a movie ticket! And he was pitching a fit about arcade tickets? Seriously Jude? Seriously?
Lesson 196: The time of your life ruined, because you can't get a kazoo and two Tootsie Rolls = white trash
My mom wasn't the only one who was embarrassed. I haven't had a chance to meet these parents. Jude's behavior was their first impression, not only of him, but of our family as a whole. Not to mention, Jude gave his friend a pathetic card with five bucks inside! Yes, we are a bunch of ungrateful cheapskates.
After a lot of thought, I had a one-on-one conversation with my son. First, I told him how disappointed I was with his behavior. I explained how his actions probably made his friend's parents believe he was not a very nice person. Then, I informed him that due to his ungratefulness he would not be able to attend any more birthday parties until I felt he had a more grateful spirit.
As I spoke to him, I thought about all the times I had done the same thing. God has been so gracious to me, showering me with blessings upon blessings. Yet, there are still times when I focus on the the paper tickets in my hand that don't add up to what I want. Focusing on the small ways my life isn't how I want it deprives me of thanks. Deprives me of true joy. And just like I took birthday parties away from Jude, God has the power to take back the blessings he's allowed me to have.
Jude lowered his head and covered his eyes with a paper towel, so I wouldn't see his tears. (He never cries.) "Jude, God calls us to be joyful in all circumstances. I know you were upset about not being able to get a prize, but did you still have fun?" Jude nodded his head. "Then, you should have had joy in your heart. That way you could have walked up to the mom and dad with a smile on your face and thanked them. They planned that whole party so they could bring you and the other kids happiness and see smiles on your faces. How sad they must have felt when they saw your scowl."
Jude lowered the paper towel, "I'm sorry."
I stuck my fingers in his hair and tousled it out of his eyes. "It's alright. Just keep God's joy in your heart. It will help you be thankful even when you're bummed out about things that don't go your way."
Jude nodded his head. I'm sure I won't have to worry about ungratefulness from him for a while.
After he left, I thought about joy. Joy is so important. If you have true joy, even during hardship, it breeds a thankful heart. It brings happiness. It enables forgiveness. Joy produces love and compassion. It keeps us from being judgmental, and helps self-control.
So, if today you're staring at a pitiful amount of tickets in your hand, I say you put them in your pocket, look around at what you do have, and choose joy!