Darryl (not his real name) never comes to the door when we knock. He just yells, “Come in!”
Once a week Kay and I wheel our cart of meals to his floor of the public housing apartments for the disabled.
And once a week, we find Darryl sitting alone by his dirty window with the door unlocked.
- Sometimes he has a shirt on; sometimes he’s bare-chested.
- Sometimes he’s wearing his jet-black Elvis toupee; sometimes just a do-rag.
- Sometimes he’s watching TV; sometimes it’s eerily quiet.
But he’s always sitting in his wheelchair.
His apartment is always a colossal mess.
And the smell coming from it is always knock-you-down strong.
It’s just what I need.
I ask him where to place his meal. In the kitchen? Always yes. I search for an available spot without having to touch anything. Often a cockroach scurries further down the counter when I lay the box down.
I used to take a deep breath before I headed in. Inhale in—enter, set the meal down, exit—exhale out. Done. Whew.
But the past few months, God started whispering he wanted me to linger. To ask Darryl how he was doing. To see how his day had been. Ugh.
Sometimes Darryl talks a bit. More so now than before. It doesn’t necessarily endear me more to him. I discover he’s ultra-suspicious of the government. He’s critical of the apartment management. If he had his way, he’d move to Montana in the spring and take his identity with him, safe from the thieves he’s sure are after him.
I often don’t know how to respond.
So I just listen and nod.
And finally wish him a good evening.
I still don’t stay long.
I still can’t stay long.
Because I’m still not a good person.
- I’m too judgmental.
- I’m too proud.
- I’m too skittish.
That’s me, shying away from the too weird.
But it’s not God.
If I’m to grow more into God’s image, I need to improve at showing love to everybody, not just those who are like me. Maybe especially to those who are NOT like me.
Therefore, God is willing to use anybody—and often the most weird person he can find (from my viewpoint)—to change me more.
But from what I know about God, this can work both ways.
When I knock on Darryl’s door each week, I wonder if Darryl is thinking, “There’s that weird woman again. Sheesh. Can’t she just bring me my food and shut up?”
I need Darryl.
And maybe Darryl also needs me.
As long as Christ gifts us with each other once a week, maybe we both will learn better how to love the different. To embrace the strange. Or at least to tip-toe a little nearer to it each week.
And in so doing, may we learn we have more in common with each other than we realize.
We ALL are weird, each in our own ways.
Don’t shy away from weird.
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Is there an unusual person in your life? How can you show them respect this week? Please share in the comments.
- Stop being too sensitive – Book review “Unoffendable”
- Don’t look directly at the sun