“Turnabout Day,” Friend, July 1988, 32
“Nothing ever goes right!” Jason shouted, and he slammed the model car he was making down on the table. Pieces of it flew in all directions. He picked up the pieces, shoved them into the box, then tossed the box onto the shelf in his bedroom and went outside.
Jason’s little brother, Kent, ran up to him. “Do you want to play catch with me?”
“I suppose,” Jason replied. He tossed the ball to his brother. Kent tried to throw the ball back, but it flew straight up into the air. It didn’t come anywhere near where Jason was standing.
“Learn to throw, will you!” Jason exploded.
Kent tried again. This time the ball bounced a couple of times and stopped far away from Jason.
“Oh, forget it,” Jason groaned. “I’m going to play ball with some of my friends.” He went down to Miller’s field, where his friends were standing together talking. Something important must be going on, he thought and ran over to them. “What’s happening?”
“Bad news,” Robert said. “Tomorrow’s Blazer B picnic has been called off. Brother Gilbert can’t take us because his father’s shed burned down and he has to help clean up the mess.”
“Nothing ever goes right!” Jason grumbled.
At lunchtime he hardly nibbled his egg salad sandwich.
“What’s wrong, Jason?” his mother asked.
“Oh, Mom, what a rotten day! Everything’s going wrong, and we can’t even have our picnic tomorrow because of a dumb old fire.”
His mother put her hand on Jason’s shoulder. “I know how you feel, Son. We all have what we call terrible days. But sometimes it helps to remember Heavenly Father’s goodness to us. Remember the scripture in Psalm 118:24 [Ps. 118:24]: ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’?”
Jason sighed. “I remember, Mom, but how can I be glad when everything goes wrong?”
“Sometimes things go wrong because we don’t use the gifts that Heavenly Father gave us to try to make things go right.”
Jason just moaned as he went outside and sat on the front steps, still feeling glum. He knew that his mother was trying to help him, but what was happening to him wasn’t his fault at all. The pieces of the model car were cut wrong; that’s why he couldn’t put it together. And it sure wasn’t his fault that Kent couldn’t throw a ball or that Brother Gilbert’s father’s shed had burned down.
He watched Kent trying again and again to throw the ball straight. But every throw was wild. The kid didn’t follow through with his arm. He jerked each throw with a twist of his wrist.
“Let me show you how to do it,” Jason said. He took the ball from Kent. “Watch my arm.” The ball made a nice arc through the air.
“That’s a great throw!” Kent said admiringly.
“Thanks,” his brother said. “If you go get the ball, I’ll show you again.” After a few more throws, Jason let Kent try. Kent’s arm motion was smoother this time, and the ball went pretty far.
“Oh, wow!” Kent yelled. “That’s the best I’ve ever done.”
“Yeah,” Jason said. “It was good.” It made him feel good to see his brother so excited.
“Let me practice some more by myself,” Kent said. “Then we’ll have a real game of catch.”
Jason wandered into the house. He couldn’t think of anything to do. Mom was in the kitchen, doing the lunch dishes. Jason went in and picked up the towel and began to dry them.
“Well, thank you,” his mother said, surprised.
Jason grinned. “When we get the dishes done, you’d better sit in a chair so you don’t fall down because I’m going to take out the garbage.”
Mom looked so startled at Jason’s pronouncement that he had to laugh. And the laughing made him feel good too. After he took out the garbage, he felt good enough to try working on the model car again. He took out all the pieces and looked at them carefully. Then he looked at the directions. He felt silly when he saw that he had been trying to put a piece where it didn’t belong. No wonder he’d thought that the pieces weren’t cut right. Now that he was using the gifts that Heavenly Father had given him, as his mother had put it, things were going right. He had even made Kent and Mom happy by helping them.
At least today is turning out pretty good, he decided. But what about tomorrow? All the guys had planned on the picnic. Mom had already bought the hot dog buns and mustard that he was supposed to bring. The Blazers had planned to go swimming, and Brother Gilbert was going to show them how to play water basketball.
Well, there was no sense moping about it. There was no way that the boys could go on the picnic without Brother Gilbert, and he had to help his father. Suddenly Jason put the model car down. Maybe …
He raced out of his room to find his mother. “Do you know where Brother Gilbert’s father lives?”
Mom looked surprised. “He lives about five or six miles out in the country, on Highway 27. Why?”
Jason told Mom his plan, and she thought it was a good one.
It took Jason a while to round up the other boys and for them to get their parents’ permission, but when everything was arranged, Jason called Brother Gilbert on the phone. “We’re sorry to hear about your father’s shed,” he said. “All the Blazer Bs want to help you clean up. My mom will drive us out there right after supper. Is that OK?”
“Is it OK? It’s terrific!” Brother Gilbert said. “If we all work together, we can probably get the whole job done this evening and go on our picnic tomorrow as planned.”
Jason smiled as he told his mother what Brother Gilbert had said. “You know something, Mom? My terrible day turned out to be terrific! When things go wrong, sometimes we can do something ourselves to make them better.”