I’m not a cranky person. I’m actually a very happy person. But today, I was just cranky.
I was cranky about a book we’re starting in my bible study that I don’t really want to do. I was cranky about some depressing news articles I read. I was cranky about one of my regular lunchtime companions making comments that upset me. I was cranky about the gross slushy weather. I was just major crankypants.
I was cranky enough to consider not making the twenty minute drive down to the animal shelter where I normally volunteer on Wednesdays. I thought, “Ugh, the weather is gross. It’s probably not safe to drive down there in this weather. And I don’t feel like going, I just wanna be at home. I’ll skip.”
I was about to leave work to go home, just waiting for the elevator, when suddenly it was like a switch flipped and suddenly I was going to the shelter again.
It was like someone else was controlling my body as I changed into my boots and flannel and grabbed a Clif bar and grabbed my bag and climbed into my car and made the drive. As usual, I checked in and put on my nametag and apron and greeted my favorite cats. I tracked down a staff person and asked what needed doing. She asked me to walk the dogs, all of whom were stir-crazy after two days of bad weather keeping them inside. I pulled my jacket back on, leashed up Junior the beagle mix, and took him out into the cold.
As we walked around the block, I realized I hadn’t actually played a part in my change of heart. I simply became aware that I was, in fact, going to the shelter. Like I said, a switch flipped in my brain. And now I was squatting in the slush in my ugliest boots and my oldest jeans, scooping Junior’s less-than-healthy-looking poop out of the snow. A task devoid of any dignity whatsoever.
And I realized God sent me here.
God flipped the switch in my brain. God dressed me and gave me a snack and drove me down to the shelter. God basically said, “Maggie, get off your high horse and go clean up some dog crap.” He reminded me that wallowing in my own bad mood was a waste of the strong hands and able body he gave me to do his work. He got me out of my head because his world and his plan and his love is so much bigger than what’s inside my head.
It was tough love at first, since poor Junior got the runs three times on our walk and I had to scoop up every bit of it. But once I stopped thinking about my own moodiness and started focusing on the dogs, it turned into something else. A thank you for loving the least of these. It turned into twenty minutes of holding a sleeping puppy in my lap, just letting her soak up a warm body and soft hands and some companionship in a lonely place.
It’s such a simple solution, really. When we get caught up in our own issues, God boots us out by reminding us that we aren’t alone on this planet. We are perfectly capable of giving our gifts to others rather than wallowing in what we don’t have. Stop crabbing, God says, and start caring. Go shine God’s love on someone else until you start to feel it yourself. Dwell in him, and invite others to dwell with you, be they people or puppies.
I left the shelter in time to make lenten worship at church. Still wearing my ugly boots and my dude flannel, I sang the Holden Evening Prayer. I dwelled in his word, and the crankiness was gone. I was whole again. I was God’s.