A Big Lesson In a Tiny Old Book

James Stebbins
Bad Habits Resisted And Overcome
"Well, James, you have had a most delightful day, both for study and for amusement. Every thing around us has looked bright and joyous, but has my little son been happy to-day?"
As James thought over the events of the day, he felt that he had been far from happy most of the time, and he answered.....
"No, mother, I do not think I have been happy."
"But what has been the reason, my son?'
"I do not know, mother; only it seems as if every thing has happened to vex me."
"Do you think the difficulty has been in the things which have happened to vex you, or in yourself?"
"I do not know, Mother."
"Well, my son, let us talk over the history of the day, and perhaps we may be able to find out.
The first thing that vexed you in the morning was that we had finished breakfast before you came down, was it not?"
"Yes, Mother."
"Well, you might have avoided this by being up in season, you know."
"But I was so sleepy, and it was very hard to get up."
"And was it not quite as hard to get up when you did, as it would have been to have got up the first time your father called you?"
"Yes, mother, I think it was."
"Then it seems you did not gain any thing by putting it off so long, but lost much. I hope you will think of this tomorrow morning. You have proved to-day that it is a bad thing to begin the day wrong. But what was the next thing that happened?"
"When I was ready to go to school I could not find my geography, because Lucy had it."
"You found it soon enough to be at school in season, did you not?"
"Yes, Mother."
"Then you had no reason for being angry, do you think you had?"
"I suppose I had not."
"What was the next thing that happened to trouble you?"
"Next I lost my place at the head of the class. George Williams went above me."
"Do you not suppose it gives George Williams quite as much pleasure to be at the head of the class as it does you?"
"I suppose it does."
"If you had thought of this, and remembered what the Bible says about 'loving our neighbor as ourselves,' do you think you would have felt so unhappy because George went above you in the class?"
"I do not think I should."
"Now, then, tell me what was the next thing that troubled you?"
"When I was coming home from school, John Slater knocked off my hat."
"And suppose you had taken it pleasantly when John knocked it off, would it not have been as well as to be made either angry or unhappy by it?"
"And no I need not spend my time to convince you that you were indulging very wrong feelings when you were so unwilling to leave your new book for a few minutes to assist your mother. And thus, my dear son, do you not see that not the events which have occurred to vex you, but your own angry passions, have made you unhappy to-day?"
"Yes, mother, I do," said James, "and tomorrow I will try not to let such trifles vex me, and do you see if I will not be a better and happier boy."
"I hope you will, my son," said his mother, as she kissed him and bid him good-night. We will soon see how he made out.
The next night, as James came into the room, his mother said to him, "I shall not inquire whether you have been happy to-day, my son, for it is evident that you have. But before I bid you good-night, I wish you to tell me some of the things which have made you so."
"I will commence then with the morning," said James. "I started up as soon as I heard my father's voice calling me, and it did not seem half so hard as when I lay and thought about it: so I had time for a fine run in the garden before breakfast. It was so pleasant, I thought the birds never sung so sweetly before. I did not know it was so very pleasant early in the morning."
His mother smiled and said, "The boys that lay in bed till after breakfast are not the boys that make such discoveries."
"When the breakfast bell rang," said James, "I was right glad to hear it, for I had run till I was hungry."
"Did you regain your place at the head of your class?" said his mother.
"No, mother; George Williams came very near missing a word, and for a moment I was ready to hope that he would, but then I thought of what you said, and that perhaps if he should lose his place, he would feel as bad as I did yesterday, and I was glad when he succeeded in spelling the word. When I went out, I found that one of the boys had knocked my hat off the nail in the entry. I was beginning to feel very angry, but I thought how foolish and wicked it was to get angry for such a trifle. When I had time to think more about it I was very glad I did not get angry with him, for I did not think he meant to knock it down. When I returned home at night I found Lucy was very busy looking at the pictures in my new book. I wished to finish reading it, and was going to catch it from her; but she looked very unwilling to give it up just then, and I thought I would go out to do something else, so I said to her, 'Lucy, I shall want my book when I come in again, and you will make haste and get through with it, won't you?'
And Lucy said, 'Yes, James,' and when I came back again she reached out her little hands to give me the book and I felt very glad I had not rudely taken it from her."
When James had finished his story, his mother's kind look of approval, and her affectionate kiss, made his heart bound with joy. She went with him to his chamber, and knelt with him to pray that God would help her little son to conquer all his wicked passions, that he might become a useful and happy man.
I hope my young friends will learn , from the story of James, that neither pleasant weather, nor kind friends, nor any other blessings, will make them happy, if they indulge in wicked and angry passions.
Dedicated to my Grandma Cochran - Gone but not forgotten.
This little book was one of the treasures that I found in her sewing box.


Alice Grace said…
How sweet that old book is! Those old books used to be so teachable! Love it!
Anonymous said…
Really touching. Thanks for sharing your treasure.
Brenda Sue said…
Wonderful, wonderful wonderful. Love, Brenda
Needled Mom said…
And I too shall try to not allow such trifles to vex me tomorrow. Great story, Valerie.
Karen said…
I enjoyed this wonderful story and I think (I know) we all need a lesson in this at one time or another.
We always should stop and think before acting or thinking.....THANK YOU VALERIE and GRANDMOTHER for leaving this great little treasure.
Krista said…
OH I just love it! I needed these words today! Why do I let the little trifling things bother me? It is so easy to have faith for the big things, but it is the little things that get in my way. I bet that book is priceless to you because it would be to me! I hope you have a great day.