I coined a word this morning while chatting on Facebook with a friend. I had been scrolling through my Facebook feed and discovered that the plethora of posts on issues big and small was making me feel overwhelmed in a very specific way. In point of fact, reading all this stuff was making me feel both cranky and anxious. Hence my new word: cranxious.
It's a good word to describe how I feel a lot of the time these days. The anxiety is my besetting sin...or my cross to bear (depending on the day, I might describe it either way). Sometimes it's vague and amorphous (that's usually when I'm giving into fear) other times it's grounded in very specific reality. That last is hard, but somehow it is easier to turn it over to God, one anxious thought at a time, when I recognize at least what I am feeling anxious about -- and let go of the things I'm clinging to with such stubborn, clutching fingers.
The crankiness is just...well, crankiness. I notice that it gets worse when I am surrounded by other people feeling cranky. And let's face it, a lot of people use FB as an outlet for their cranky feelings. Over the weather, their health, politics, the state of the world, their boredom and frustration. When you really love people, you're willing to listen to them talk about whatever they need to talk about. The problem with Facebook, of course, is that it can be very hard to turn scrolling through a newsfeed into active listening. It's a passive activity unless you're really willing to take the time to turn it into something active/proactive -- an encouraging note to someone, a prayer offered on their behalf, a willingness to read an article that they posted because they really feel passionate about something and found it struck enough of a chord that they wanted to share it. Knowing all the little details of friends and acquaintances' lives...at least all the little details they've chosen to reveal...can be food for real learning and prayer. It can also just be an overwhelming wall that you want to bang your head against some mornings. Too much information! Too much crankiness!
So today I felt cranxious.
That's when it hit me I had not had my quiet time. I woke up a little later than usual, and though I had prayed and done Bible reading with the sweet girl, I had not had any quiet, personal time with the Lord. And yet here I was, getting all cranxious over the state of the world and other people's lives. What's wrong with this picture?
I headed to the lectionary to read the daily Scripture readings. To get some good news, I said to my friend, in a laughing way. I meant that. The good news is twined in every part of the Scriptures, shot through as they are with the gospel's golden thread. Of course in some places that's dazzlingly clear and in other places, you have to grope for the thread -- it glints off in a corner or just shows up in a small knot on the backside of a story or prayer, but it's there.
And what did I hit first? Psalm 69.
This is King David at his most cranxious. In fact, the word, much as I like it, doesn't even begin to cover David's mood in this prayer. You could basically sum it up like this: "I'm sinking, God, and IT STINKS!" He snarls and complains and fumes and frets and frankly says some pretty disturbing things about the enemies that are getting him down and what he'd like done to them. Such disturbing things that the lectionary bleeps him. They actually cut seven verses right out of the middle, assuming it will be too much for our delicate ears and highly honed postmodern sensibility to deal with David's anger and desire for vengeance.
Yes, I say the last with tongue in cheek. You may have noticed, in FB feeds and other places, that frustration, anger, and even a desire for vengeance is alive and well in our day and age. We just don't tend to turn it Godward anymore, which is a pity. We excise David's hardest words in an attempt to make the whole prayer sound nicer, but what we don't realize is that David is modeling for us what we're supposed to do when we do, inevitably, feel these things. He is taking it directly to God, to the heart of love that called him and the entire world into being, the only one who can right wrongs and heal harms and restore relationships in any ultimate way. In pain, anger, and frustration, he takes it all to God -- and he leaves it there. Right at his feet. A messy, messy offering of all that is within him.
And by the end of the Psalm, he is moving into a different place. Enough that he can say "you who seek God, let your hearts revive..." The act of placing all this in God's hands, trusting God with it, seems to be working revival in his own cranxious heart. The act of seeking God, finding God, knowing God hears us -- it makes a difference in our lives.