Celebrations Notwithstanding

Lisa - Wellesley, Massachusetts
Entered on March 5, 2009

I still remember when my mother sat me down outside on a stone bench one starry night and warmly praised me on resisting the temptations of breaking my own morals. We were on our way home from our Christian Kingdom Hall when I, still being a childish fourth grader, querulously whined, “It’s so hard to refuse all of my friends’ invitations for birthday parties and holiday gatherings. I can’t even give Valentine’s cards or receive Christmas presents. I’m scared of losing all of my friends!” After a little silence, she smiled at me. “Lisa, I know it’s hard on you. Consider, why do you refuse to go? You may attend if your conscience permits it.”

Mentally debating on the subject, I realized then that serving my God was my foremost priority, and although others may not follow or hold the same beliefs, I would act according to my conscience. The Bible did not command to celebrate any holidays except for Jesus’ death, also known as the Lord’s Evening Meal. I wished to follow all the ways of the Bible. Therefore, to hurt my relationship with God by not abiding by these guidelines was worse than going to a celebratory holiday. I continued politely declining my classmates’ thoughtful invitations, feeling guilty when their lit-up faces turned into one of confusion and disappointment when I said, “But I wish you a nice party and a good time”. Yet, despite the pressure to give in – to be allowed to say yes, just once! –, I rejoiced that God knew I was attempting to follow Him, and this motivated me. It was also comforting that I could still attend non-holiday parties, such as family gatherings and friend get-togethers. In time, the frequent flow of RSVP calling from parents quenched up, and it was a relief to have some of the pressure to give in lifted off.

A few years later, one of my close friends announced that she was throwing a birthday party, and I was invited. Despite worrying about the possibility of losing a dear friend, I gently turned her down, explaining that I couldn’t be present because of my faith – but thanks, I appreciated it. I went home, feeling a little down. Surprisingly, I received a phone call from my friend the very next day. Shocked, I listened as she explained that she had canceled her party – for me! Even though my mother and I called to say that she didn’t need to cancel her party for my sake, her mother had scheduled an art festivity for us instead. I was very grateful for her kindness, and overjoyed that I could still spend time with her and some of my other friends.

From that time on, I never felt a desire to participate in something that I knew didn’t quite settle with me. That single warm-hearted act of kindness proved to me that I could still have great friends and a splendid time without breaking my morals in times of pressure.