You know who Jiminy Cricket is; that little cricket in Disney's Pinnochio who sat upon his shoulder and served as his conscience. This past week I experienced a couple of "Jiminy Cricket" moments, myself. That's those times when people in your life remind you subtly of what is right or wrong and how you should be behaving.
The first instance was when I met an old friend in Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, in general, tends to bring out the worst in me. And being in Wal-Mart on the first of the month REALLY brings out the worst in me. However, I continue to go weekly, taking my mother to browse around while I do her grocery shopping. So when I ran into this friend, she asked me what I was up to. I told her the purpose of my visit and she said, "What a sweet daughter." I replied by saying, "Well, I'm not THAT sweet because sometimes I complain." She just looked at me and sweetly said, "You know when you complain it takes the blessing away." She didn't say it in a judgmental manner or accusingly at all and at the end of our conversation I thanked her for reminding me of that fact. I find that I need a little Jiminy Cricket in my life now and then. Just to keep me on track and remind me of what is really important.
The second moment I was reminded of the important things in life was this morning at church. We had been traveling for the past two Sundays and although I was beyond tired from the holiday weekend, I was anxious to get to church to get my spiritual tanked filled up for the week. Our Sunday School class is taught by our former pastor who is not only a wonderful teacher but to me that wise, grandfatherly figure that is a weekly Jiminy Cricket. This morning he made the statement that "If we know what is right and what is good and we do not do it, that is sin." OUCH! Did that step on some toes?! How many times do we turn our head and ignore the needs of others? Oh, it is easy to be filled with a generous spirit during Christmas and join in with others in giving to the needy. And there is nothing wrong with that at all, as a matter of fact it is great. But what about on all of the other ordinary days? What about the person standing on the corner holding a sign asking for food or money? Or the physically dirty homeless guy sitting on a bench outside the nice restaurant you are entering? Do these people make you feel uncomfortable? Or do you justify not helping them out by saying, "I'm not going to give them money because they will just use it for other things." Or perhaps treat the homeless person as though they are not worthy of even a hello. Do we know the road these people have traveled? Do we know what their story is? Do we just walk around judging them in our minds, thinking we are so much more superior than they are? "If we KNOW what is right and what is good..." What is right and what is good does not require us to determine what the person does with what we give them but the spirit in which we perform this act. The condition of OUR heart. We need to be reminded of this occasionally. We NEED Jiminy Cricket moments where we are reminded of what is right and good. And for this, I am so grateful I have teachers and friends in my life to do this.
Oh, I realize that Pinnochio was not a "real" boy and Jiminy Cricket was not a "real" character who served as his conscience, reminding him of what was right and good. What I DO realize is that we all need people in our lives that serve as OUR conscience. Someone who gently reminds us of what is important in life and keeps us on a straight path, who reminds us that God loves everyone and that everyone is lovely in His eyes. Those people who, like Jiminy Cricket, "whispers" in our ear without accusation, "Remember, when you complain it takes the blessing away." And I WANT the blessing!