It’s 1954. Central Elementary School. Shenandoah Iowa. It’s third grade recess. We boys are playing kickball. The girls are standing around acting silly. Off to the side standing alone is Betty Jean Davis wishing some of the girls would talk to her or ask her to join them. Betty Jean hoped some of the girls might laugh with her instead of at her. She’s wearing a pair of thick lens glasses and she talks with a lisp. Her hair is a mess. It’s late October and Betty Jean is wearing a dusty, disheveled hand-me-down short sleeved dress. She doesn’t own a long-sleeved dress. It’s 41 degrees. The girls teasing her were merciless and hateful. The teacher was nowhere in sight. I wanted to say something to make them quit teasing Betty Jean but at the time I wanted to remain popular with the boys so I kept quiet.
Once a week we had story time in class. Betty Jean always told some outlandish wild story about our family. Everyone knew her stories were made up. I think Betty Jean wanted beyond hope to just be accepted and liked. We thought she hoped Her stories would give her some measure of credibility and popularity among the rest of us. They never did.
The first day of fourth grade Betty Jean didn’t show up. No one including the principal or teachers ever knew what happened to her or her family.
God used my experience with Betty Jean to begin teaching me the gift of mercy. It is my primary spiritual gift today. I was heartbroken even in third grade at the way some of the girls treated Betty Jean. We all know how wicked and cruel little girls can be. I regretted for years, even today, not coming to Betty Jean’s defense over 60 years ago. Betty Jean, I wish I knew where you were today. I would ask you to forgive me and hug your neck and tell you how much Jesus loves you. Hopefully you already know. I would love to be brother and sister in Christ with you.
Betty Jean if you’re out there I hope you’ll contact me here on my blog. If you leave contact information in a comment I will surely follow up with you. We have 65 years of life stories to catch up on.
Tune into For His Glory tomorrow for John Ed’s latest post and Friday to see what God’s been sharing with me. May God richly bless you.