Find the weird one


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.

* * *

Is there an unusual person in your life? How can you show them respect this week? Please share in the comments.

46 thoughts on “Find the weird one

  1. Debbie

    I visit but don’t always comment. I loved this post and I love that you get out and do this. I believe the fact that you are wondering about it makes the answer yes. Daryl does need you. At least a few minutes worth 🙂 I wish I could get out and volunteer. I’m on oxygen, live alone and I don’t get out as often as I like because of panic disorder. So again. Yes. He needs you. God bless you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your words mean a lot to me, Debbie. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Don’t ever underestimate the ministry you are providing through your words, whether inside or outside of the house. It doesn’t matter how many people we see in a day or week, but how deeply we touch those that we are in contact with. You’ve touched me today.

  2. Michele Morin

    Oh, these irregular people in our lives do show us for what we really are. Thank you for your testimony of perseverance in the hard things of life and loving the unlovely. Blessings!

  3. Maria @ Island Living Midwest

    This post so moved me and made me think. I definitely shy away from the “weird” because of my own inadequacies, especially when it comes to what to say to them. I don’t want to offend so I prefer to stay silent and ignore. But as you mentioned: this is not God. Thank you for this very thought provoking post.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I relate to what you’re saying, Maria—it’s often our own perceived (or real!) inadequacies that keep us away as much as anything from ministering to others. I’m trying to learn that God just wants me to show up, just as I am, and that is enough. I’m a slower learner though. ha.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it’s just more natural for all of us to be more comfortable around those who are like us. But we miss out on so much when we do that! I can be quite boring; I need different kinds of people in my life to liven things up. ha.

  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I agree with Debbie – Daryl does need you, and shows it by being willing to talk with you. A lot of people in that position won’t; they’ll be thinking you’re part of The Conspiracy. He is reaching out in the only way he knows how.

    And yes, Lisa, you are too judgemental…towards yourself.

    I have been in places like that, and have worked with people like that. By being willing to stay, you’ve shown a level of compassion that’s really quite rare. Saying “I’m still not a good person” somehow undercuts and devalues what you did. You did great, and I wish there were more people like you.

    Also…you might consider that you are subconsciously picking up on things that limit your visits, and your contact. First, it might be very good to be skittish, as there could be things in his past, or even in his mind, that would be frightening. That skittishness could very well be God, saying “this far; no further”.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re speaking truth to me on several levels, Andrew. Now that you mention it, I can see that you’re right—I am being too judgmental towards myself. I need that to be pointed out to me. How can we expect to be compassionate toward others if we haven’t learned how to be compassionate toward ourselves? It doesn’t mean we don’t still work toward change, but we can cut ourselves some slack and trust God’s grace.

      And yes, you’re also right that “this far and no further” might be far enough for now. There is definitely a need for caution with some of the people that we deliver to, and we’re not always the best judge of that ourselves. That’s one reason we always go in pairs, and I’m grateful for that little “rule.” It protects everyone involved.

      Praying for your comfort today. I always appreciate when you are extravagant with your energy to spare some here. Your words are valuable.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      There are days where I really have to fight getting out of my comfort zone though; it seems like such a safe place. 🙂 But safety isn’t our goal, right? Giving honor to our Father is. Thanks for your encouragement, Mari-Anna.

  5. Sharon

    Lisa, first of all, being a germophobe, I admire your willingness (and courage) to go into this situation. But you are so right – Jesus entered all the messiness. Can we do any less? God has a way of taking us out of our comfort zones for the working of His purposes. And I agree, there seems something quite *holy* about these encounters with Daryl.

    You asked if there was someone unusual in my life – and I’d have to say it’s my mom. As she slides into dementia, she is becoming someone I don’t recognize. Her thought patterns are skewed, her reactions are based on her perceptions, she has odd behaviors, and she is beginning to blur the lines of fantasy and reality. She isn’t keeping up with her hygiene, and sometimes it’s so hard to be physically close to her. I pray for more patience, more grace, as I continue to be stretched in this situation.

    She has loved *weird me* all of my life, it’s my turn now to love her back with my whole heart.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right, Sharon—Jesus never shied away from the messy people. I’m so sorry with all you’re going through with your mom. 🙁 Dementia is definitely a messy disease. It was only during the last 6 months of my mom’s life that I was more hands-on with her dementia, and it was very difficult. A dear friend of mine told me back then that when her own mother got dementia, that she had to learn to love the “new” lady that had replaced her mother since her own mother was not really the same anymore. That stuck with me. Praying you have peace with all the things you’re having to go through, friend. It’s a difficult journey, but you’ll be rewarded for your faithful love and service toward your mom.

  6. Susie

    This was the theme of my weekend. A weird person that is in our lives calls and asks for $1800 for what may fix his car. When my hubby said we didn’t have it he responds with come on you know you are rich. Blew my mind. My hubby did take him out and buy a new battery, and now the person wants my husband to do some auto work that would take hours which my husband doesn’t have time for. He isn’t a mechanic and hasn’t even fixed our own vehicles for years. I was angry and am still struggling. This person is a user, he insults people and gets offended very easy. I don’t want him in my life. So I feel like a horrible person and a failure as a Christian. I don’t even want to try anymore. I feel like I’ll never get it right.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re sounding too much like me, Susie—so hard on yourself. ha. As Andrew pointed out in an earlier comment, I’m too judgmental toward myself. You’re definitely not a failure as a Christian; if you are, then we all are because none of us ever get it right. But that’s why we need Jesus, right? I’m grateful for his grace that covers all our humanness!

      It sounds to me that you and your husband have healthy boundaries with this “weird person.” And that’s a form of love too. It’s hard not to feel resentment toward those who are willing to take advantage of our kindness, but keeping your boundaries is a valid way to counteract any bitterness that wants to set in. Sometimes I feel God uses people like this in our lives for a season to sharpen all of us, then allows them to move on. Praying that this person won’t be a thorn to you much longer! 🙂

  7. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, you are showing us all how we need to change & for this, I am most grateful. God is using you in more lives than you can realize. May we all be a little more loving & caring to the “weird” ones as some day it may just be us in need of a visit. Blessings!

  8. Laura

    I love these little glimpses of the people you serve and the ways you are blessed by them. This is a good story–a convicting story–and, as always, you have me questioning my own commitment to following Jesus into the hard places. Thanks for that, Lisa. Very much.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Laura. I was reading in Isaiah this morning about God covering the earth with people. He sure is quite creative with it, yes? 🙂 I’m not always grateful for some of that creativity, but I know it is all good in its own way if God made it.

  9. ~ linda

    Oh, what a reminder to accept and be okay with whomever God places in our lives at any given moment. I had to smile, Lisa, when I read about how we are ALL weird, in our own ways. Yes, we are!!! Looking at my own weirdness ought to wake me up to that of everyone else and let the judging vanish down the drain!
    I love you, girl…~ linda

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m sure there are quite a few people in our lives who would classify us as weird. 🙂 Just look at our book choices. ha. But God knows what he was doing in how he designed each of us, yes? Thankful he made you just the way you are, Linda!

  10. Bill (cycleguy)

    I’m not sure I agree it is because you are not a good person. In fact, i would tend to disagree and i have never met you! LOL You are allowing God to soften your heart to the obvious need of this man…whether he realizes he has one or whether he realizes you are making the extra effort. I don’t think “good” is measured by what we do or don’t do. We are not judged on how “good” we are. Your heart is being touched. That is what matters.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “We are not judged on how “good” we are.”
      Amen to that, Bill. It took me a long time to understand that, and sometimes I still wonder if it’s too good to be true. But I know in my head that it is—it’s what grace is all about. It’s who God is. Thanks for spreading that grace here with your words of encouragement. I’m soaking them in.

  11. Beverley

    I don’t think you are alone, Lisa, in wanting to tiptoe away from ‘weird’, I know for certain i would want to do so too. But you may be the only person he speaks to each week and i am sure he is grateful for the moments you give him.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      [apologies if this is a duplicate reply–the first one vanished in thin air!]
      You made me think that if *I* were the one sitting there alone each week, I hope there would be someone who would come by and speak to me, even in my weirdness. Thanks for encouragement to keep going back, Beverley.

  12. David Rupert

    Weird, huh? Well, if you insist!

    We all have our “ways” and “idiosyncrasies.” Some of them are just different. Some are dangerous. Some are sinful. It’s a matter of sorting all of them into tolerable vs. intolerable vs. annoying. But I’m thrilled you take the time out to see him and be there…that says something.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      [Hmmm….not sure where my original comment to this went…sorry if a duplicate] But yes, weird might not be the best word choice; perhaps different would be more appropriate since I doubt God would call any of his children weird. 😉 And also yes, those differences aren’t always just matters of style or choices, but often between life and death….

  13. Kathy

    I think you’re loving by walking in the door and bringing food to him..many, can’t even walk through their door! I love your post, how to love the different, searching your soul for more kindness, for a way to be Christ’s eyes, ears and heart in the world. I wrote last week about the Gifts of Love, sharing the special gifts of the Down Syndrome and Mentally disabled folks I meet at the YMCA and in the world. These are those at one time I may not have stopped to talk to years ago before I knew Christ’s heart, I don’t know if I knew what to say to them, or I felt they were different. I learned, they have so much to say, to teach me. If you’re interested:

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Loved your post, Kathy. Thanks for sharing the link! It’s a perfect example of what I’m trying to say here. Sometimes those who are most different from us are the ones we have the most to learn from. And in the case of your special friends, sometimes also the ones we receive the most love from.

  14. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Lisa, I love the honesty, the heart, and the wisdom of this post.

    Too many of us feel the same way, but we haven’t admitted it and we certainly haven’t shared it.

    I have learned many times that I thought I was the one doing the ministering only to realize that God was using someone “weird” to minister to me. That’s just the way He works, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing this touching story. May it be a lesson to us all.

    May He continue to fill your cup to overflowing as you seek to serve all in His name.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Heather—God often works in that upside-down way, right? 🙂 Love that about him. So unpredictable, yet always good. One day I’ll learn to more fully trust him as a result of his proven faithfulness!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Dolly. I know I’m weird in so many ways. Just ask my friends and family. ha. But I guess our uniqueness is all just one more fingerprint of how creative our Father is!

  15. Cheri

    Ouch. This hit home for me. I have so much compassion from a distance yet struggle when it gets too close to home. Poignant reminder that Jesus calls us to love all- not just from far away, but up close and personal. Blessings.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hear you, Cheri. It’s when we get up close that we can get sensory overload, right? The smells, the sights, the sounds… I’m thankful God isn’t as squeamish as I am! 🙂 It’s easier to keep a distance, but we miss so much when we do.

  16. Betsy de Cruz

    This is a beautiful story, Lisa. You’re reminding me of Ahment-Who-Works-at-IpraGaz. A REALLY weird guy, probably emotional disturbed or developmentally disabled, who used to go to our church. It was hard for me to talk to him, but my husband was kinder than I. For about a year or more, this guy called our house almost every night to say hi. He would say, “Hello. This is Ahment-Who-Works-at-IpraGaz.” We think his job really gave him security. It was a ministry just to listen to him a few minutes each night. But I needed it!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I love this, Betsy. I’m sure Ahment-Who-Works-at-IpraGaz looked forward to calling your house every evening. I know what I would have done; just quit answering the phone. Sigh. Glad you didn’t choose that option. Sometimes those “small” ministries can have more impact than any others we do.

  17. Jennifer Dougan

    Hi Lisa,

    I resonated most with your wonderings about what Darin thought of you too, and the reminder that God molds us to become more like him, loving like he does.

    Re your comment ages ago on my post, hi Lisa, Yes, I find myself hovering around the same chapters in Romans for a while, processing them slowly bites at a time, and then returning to get the whole chapter chunk feel too — with brain breaks away to Psalms some days too.

    Thanks for stopping in,
    Jennifer Dougan

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your comment makes me think about all the “weird” people that Jesus ministered to. Actually touching the lepers, putting his fingers on blind eyes, etc. He definitely is a hands-on and loving God! I do long for more transformation in his image too.

  18. Betty Draper

    Great story Lisa, I think all who read it will relate. Years ago we had a church bus route down in the low income section of Louisville. Some of those houses we got into were beyond anything I had ever seen and grew up in low income. Those kids we drew from those house were sometimes so smelly you did not want to get close to them. My kids got their first head lice from one of those kids. Each time we went into a house where alcohol or drugs was kind I was reminded of my own growing up years. And the preacher who lived next door who loved on me, despite the smell. So when we went over seas and sit in our first remote village and smelled those unclean smells I knew God was going to use my early years to teach me deeper truth then I learned back then. From me to you, thank you caring about this man, it’s the same touch that neighbor preacher and his family gave me, it’s a touch of God. Bless you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Wow. Your story means a lot, Betty. I’m grateful that your neighbor preacher wasn’t skittish about smells. It’s a lesson for all of us to not back away from the “messy” people but to come alongside them to show God’s love.

      I relate to your lice story too. My daughter Jenna just returned from 6 weeks living in an orphanage in Guatemala. All the girls there have head lice, so of course she got it too and couldn’t get rid of it until she got home. It brought to the surface even more of my own messy attitudes. So grateful the Lord has unending supplies of mercy for all of us weird kids!

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