There are few insects I despise more than crickets. I hate anything that will just suddenly jump in your direction for no apparent reason. I think that whole phobia of all things of the order Orthoptera (which sounds like someone Paul preached to on Crete) started with my fearless sister, Sheryl, chasing me around the backyard with a grasshopper trapped in a cardboard tube. Did I mention she’s four years younger? Anyway, it is against the backdrop of this anxiety that this occurrence takes place.
Once upon a time, I was young; so I accepted a dinner date from a nice young man. Before dinner, for some reason, my date needed to stop by the department store where his brother worked. The mall at Northwest Plaza was not enclosed, but consisted of individual anchor stores and specialty shops arranged around a central courtyard type setting. It was landscaped and arbored and lit beautifully at night.
So we visited briefly with his brother and then headed toward the parking lot in the warm evening air. It had begun to get darker as we walked under the trees, bobbing and weaving our way through the maze of shoppers. The night sounds had begun, the cicadas leading off with tree frogs joining in. It seemed like a perfect summer night.
Suddenly my outlook changed when I heard a “thwap” and felt a thump against the left side of my body. “That’s odd”, I thought. I directed my eyes to the area where I felt the thump just in time to see a ginormous cricket crawl into the waistband of my very seventies rose colored cuffed pants. What on earth?? I gasped in horror, stunned and momentarily paralyzed. I am not a very demonstrative person, but it was all I could do to not scream. I wanted to remove said cricket posthaste, but I was in public! What was I going to do? What could I do? (This was way before Steve Lyons of the White Sox momentarily forgot where he was and indiscreetly emptied out the dirt he’d scooped up in his britches from his slide into first base….right on TV). And that would not have been an option for me anyway.
So I slapped my hand over the side of my waist band and pressed in. I felt it wriggle, which freaked me out even more. Now I had angered the demonic little creature and I was afraid to open my waist band to look for fear he would jump with a vengeance into my face. “What if he starts crawling down my leg”, I thought, “I will totally lose it!” I pressed in a bit harder to try to contain him. I was breathless with panic. Surely this is what Job was talking about when he said, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”
I said nothing as we got into the car and headed to The Hitching Post, a favorite steakhouse, with me holding my hand against my left side all the way. We had a conversation of some sort, but I was so seriously distracted, it all sounded like the teacher on Charlie Brown, “wah, wah, wah, wah”. I couldn’t think of anything but giving that cricket the heave-ho. My brain was spinning like a top trying to come up with a solution, but good ideas were unicorn rare. How could I get rid of this thing without being embarrassed? So I finally came to a disturbing conclusion and said to myself, “I’ll just have to wait until I get home.”
We went on into the restaurant and sat at one of the nice linen covered tables. He decided on a Porterhouse and then turned to me. “I’ll just have a salad with Roquefort dressing.” “What?”, he questioned, “You’re gonna come to a steakhouse and just order a salad? No filet?” I responded that, yes, that’s all I wanted. He shook his head. What he didn’t know, as I continued to hold my left side, was that I figured if I got a steak, it would require two hands…one for the fork and one for the knife, leaving Jiminy Cricket an escape opportunity; and as bad as I wanted to be rid of him, I didn’t want him to make his grand appearance at dinner. The gentleman had to wonder why on earth I kept my hand on my hip like I was about to break into a chorus of “I’m a Little Teapot”, but he kindly said nothing and took me on home.
I was never so glad to step into that little house on Penning and dash to privacy to finally take a chance on releasing the cretin. When I ventured at last to open my waistband, I found he had succumbed, either to the pressure of my hand or the shame of being found in a pair of pink polyester pants. I shook him off into the porcelain throne, and sent him, as my son now would say, to “Six Flags Over Toilet”, watching him spin out of sight. Good riddance! Oh….but we’re not done yet, for on closer inspection I found he’d left a souvenir of the occasion in the form of a couple of hairy little legs imbedded in the fabric which were removed with a pair of tweezers I never used again. Thank goodness polyester can be washed eight thousand times, else the pants would have been incinerated.
I guess when you think about it, the peculiar sight of me with my hand on my hip for three solid hours would be difficult for someone to understand, but to me it made perfect sense. Something was “bugging” me!
This is normally where a marvelous segue would go. However, since I don’t have one, let me just say this: I know that what follows is an over-simplification of a complicated issue. We have no way of knowing what may be going on in the lives or the minds of other people…what “thing” just under the surface that no one else can see has them agitated, fearful, looking for answers or just plain ready to run. They try to carry on a normal life, have normal conversations and interpersonal relationships, all the while hiding their scary little secret from the world, terrified it will rear its ugly head at the most inopportune time. All they want is to be free of what’s bugging them…but they don’t know how.
I’ve often heard it said that you cannot change what you will not confront. How about YOUR cricket? Is it anxiety or overwhelming fear and dread? Is it loneliness or depression? Maybe addiction or a shameful habit that holds you fast? Maybe just plain old sin. Do you hold it close to you and keep it covered so you don’t have to face it? Do you tell yourself you’ll get rid of it sometime when it’s more convenient? Maybe it’s something that came on suddenly through no fault of your own and you just feel like you’re stuck with it.
You know, I wish somebody had told me on that summer night many years ago that it was okay to just let go. But then, I never told anyone or asked for help. What if I had said the moment I realized there was trouble, “Hey, look, I’ve got a problem here that needs to be fixed.” But I didn’t. Instead, I held on tighter and tighter, continuing to cover the situation, continuing to worry and fret and dread and letting it rob me of the joy I could have had that evening.
Can I make a suggestion? If something is “bugging” you in your spirit, I’d give it a good douse of “inspecticide” …..examine yourself and then inspect the Bible and see what it has to say about your problem. Then take it to the Lord and release that thing! You’ve carried it around long enough. Yeah, facing it will be scary, and there might be a mess to clean up, but at least you’ll be free.