It happened at the end of a five hour work shift.
I had started my cleaning responsibilities when a young women entered the store. She immediately headed to the Hallowe’en section and began wandering back and forth, pulling costumes and makeup off the hooks. I was at the back of the store at the time but had acknowledged her presence and had asked if she needed any help. She had responded with a head down, muffled, “No thank-you” so I continued to wipe down and restock the shelves. After fifteen minutes, the customer left, without buying anything.
When I walked over to the Hallowe’en section, I came face to face with mass confusion – witches hats, colored hairspray, tinted eyelashes, long gloves and ghost garlands were piled at the end of the aisle. I was aggravated that I had to re-organize everything because I was tired and it was time to go home. I was tempted to just leave everything as it was however, a wise friend’s words of many years ago, rang in my ears – “always leave people and things in better shape than you found them.” With God’s help, I have tried to live with this kind of integrity for the past 40 years so, with a minimum of grumbling, I put everything back in its place. I had almost finished when much to my chagrin, I discovered about 20 pumpkin necklaces had been taken off the hook and were now heaped behind a basket, in a big tangled mess…and I mean, TANGLED!
The more I tried to unscramble the mass of pumpkin heads and strings, the tighter the knots became. Again – “always leave people and things in better shape than you found them” rang through my ears with an extra, “do all things with a standard of excellence” added for good measure.
It became a battle in my mind. My shift was ending, it was time to go home and now I had a mound of pumpkin faces glaring at me, with no relief in sight. It was like they were testing me with, “So, what are you gonna’ do? Huh? Huh?
This became a decisive moment – the kind of moments that we all face hundreds of times in the day.
Despite the fact that every cell in my body wanted to hide this jumbled mess in the corner of the room and head home, my conscience was speaking to me, loud and clear.
I gathered up the pumpkin mess, texted my manager and told her that I was taking the necklaces home to untangle. When I got home, Chris made dinner and I sat at the kitchen table for about an hour, unraveling the pumpkin pile. I separated about 6 of them. When some friends came over for coffee, they rolled up their sleeves and our time together became a pumpkin party! We anticipated the victory of untangled pumpkin faces and 1.5 hours later, we got it! Probably another 20 necklaces!
Chris carefully secured all the necklaces on a cookie tray, separated by sheets of paper towel (the short sheets of course 😉 ) and wrapped with cellophane…
…and then he said that if I were to trip and drop these necklaces on the way in to the store, “…to the moon Alice!”
TA-DA! Mission Accomplished!
This past weekend at the retreat, I talked about the conscience and here was my opportunity to “walk my talk.” God speaks to us through His Word, the Holy Spirit, Godly counsel and the conscience. Our conscience judges our words, thoughts, attitudes and motives – it either accuses or defends our actions.
I desire to make decisions and take action that is founded on biblical truth rather than my will. The Apostle Paul said, “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” Acts 24.16
I think I got it right this time. Praise God.
I am telling the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit. Romans 9.1