The Plain Dress
By Margaret Shauers
Donna took off her school coat and tossed it on the couch. Then she smoothed down her pretty new green skirt and turned to her friend Beth.
“Before we start studying,” she said, “I want to ask you to come to Sunday school with me this week. Please, Beth? You’ve been saying you would for ages and ages, but somehow you never can when Sunday comes around.”
Donna’s mother looked up from her knitting. “I hope you will come, Beth,” she said. “I know your mother works Sundays and can’t go, but we’d love to take you every week.” Then Mother turned to Donna and added, “And Donna, this Sunday I want you to wear the pink dress Mrs. Salms made for your birthday.”
Donna wrinkled her nose. “Do I have to?” she asked. “It’s such a plain dress. It looks like a school dress, not a Sunday one. Do I have to let all of my church friends see me wearing it?”
“It’s the thought that counts, Donna,” her mother said. “You know Mrs. Salms hasn’t much money, but she is a good friend and she loves you dearly. It would hurt her feelings if she never saw you wearing the dress.”
Donna turned and made another face and asked again, “Will you go, Beth?”
“Uh, I don’t know,” Beth answered. “I’ll have to ask my mom. Call me Sunday morning and I’ll let you know then.
Donna had to leave it at that, although she did hope that this time, Beth would really go to church. Beth was her best friend and she wanted her to know the joy of loving Jesus and knowing that He cares.
On Sunday morning when Donna got up, she had an idea. If I go over and ask Beth’s mother myself, she thought, she might agree to let Beth come to church. Donna wrinkled her nose again as she saw the pink dress her mother had put out for her to wear.
Maybe if I just put on my blue dress with the lovely ruffles, Mother won’t notice, she thought. Or maybe when she sees how nice I look, she’ll change her mind about my wearing the pink one.
Quickly, Donna slipped into the blue dress and brushed her hair. Then she ran downstairs. “Mom,” she called, “I’m going to the Smiths. Mrs. Smith always tells Beth she can’t go to Sunday school so I am going to try and change her mind.”
“Sounds like it’s worth a try. Bring Beth back for breakfast,” Mother said as she came out of the kitchen. When Mother saw the blue dress, she added, “You know what I told you, Donna. Now run up and change into the pink dress.”
“Yuck,” Donna muttered under her breath, but when she looked at her mother she knew there was no use arguing.
Donna was still frowning when she ran down the street to Beth’s house. More than ever now, she hoped her friend would come to church. Beth was a good friend. She would understand about the plain dress.
“Can you go?” Donna asked, almost desperately, the minute Beth opened the door. Then, remembering her idea, she added, “Let me ask your mother. Maybe she’ll say yes to me.”
Beth was looking at Donna with wide eyes. “Is that the dress you’re wearing?” she asked.
Donna nodded and opened her mouth to explain that this was the school dress her mother was being so unreasonable about. But before she could say anything, Beth smiled. “Then you won’t have to ask Mother. I can go.”
Donna’s mouth dropped open in surprise. She closed it when she saw Beth’s embarrassed look.
“I’ve seen you leaving for Sunday school in your pretty church dresses, Donna. And I only have school clothes. Mother said I’d be uncomfortable at church if everyone dressed in fancy clothes like you. But if you’re wearing that dress, I will feel at home. Just let me change out of my bathrobe.”
Donna stood very still as her friend ran from the room. Now that she thought about it, she realized that many of the children wore school clothes to Sunday school. It was only she who liked fancy dresses so much that she always wore them.
She bit her lip, feeling ashamed of having given Beth such a wrong picture of Christianity. As Beth bounced back into the room, smiling and happy because she could go, Donna felt relieved. Suddenly, the pink dress didn’t seem so plain to her.
I must thank Mrs. Salms, she thought as they left together. It took this plain but very nice dress to remind me that we go to church to learn, worship, and share the love of Jesus, not to show off in fancy clothes!
© Margaret Shauers
Margaret Margaret Shauers is a freelance author of five books and hundreds of children’s stories. She teaches two online classes in writing magazine fiction for children and offers a 350+ children’s writers market list. Adult writers may contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Her online marketing column can be found at http://write4kids.com/wmarket/index.html.