Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 55 (Morning)
Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23) (Evening)
My Own Familiar Friend
Psalm 55 captured my attention today, in two ways. The first few verses resonate with how I felt during a recent episode of anxiety. It might be a minor argument with a friend, but even though I know better, rationally, my body reacts as though they’re “set against me in fury,” entering the sort of fight-or-flight mode that may actually have been a life-saver for the psalmist. And as the psalm says, it’s worst when it’s a friend. It’s the people I spend the most time with and let my guard down around who can most easily hit my weak spots, often without even realizing it.
At the same time, I got to thinking about how members of socially and politically disadvantaged groups often end up at odds with those who are at least nominally on “the same side.” There are legitimate complaints that come up in these situations, and they can feel like broken covenants, even more so than when dealing with those whom we know we disagree with. Again, it’s the people who are there, beside us, in the inner circles, to whom we are most vulnerable.
So where does that leave us, on either side of the equation? I don’t have an easy answer. I think we know God’s not going to “bring the bloodthirsty and deceitful down to the pit of destruction,” though it can be cathartic to wish for. One thing I’ve learned in dealing with my anxiety is that the first thing I have to do is sit with it, no matter what I think I will “fix it.” That’s my best suggestion. The psalm asks God to take vengeance, but the command to us is “cast your burdens upon the Lord.” It can be the hardest thing, but whatever your knee-jerk reaction is to an attack, an insult, an offense – sit with it for a while. You can always act later.
Written by Noah Meeks
Noah has been peripheral to St. Paul’s since 1998. It has influenced his life greatly, especially his decision to join the Episcopal Church in 2010. He spent a semester with missionaries from St. Paul’s in the Dominican Republic in 2002 and participated in the Ark Fellows program in 2013-2014. He completed EfM in 2017, serves as a lector, and participates in the Healing Touch ministry.