I Hope He Doesn’t Offend Y’all

Weed out offense, plant in holy ground

Do We Understand?

The only working elevator opened. Kay and I stepped inside with our cart of boxed dinners. Cindy needed to go down so she got inside the elevator, too.

And said this to us, “I hope he doesn’t offend y’all.”

She was talking about her dad.

Kay and I had just spent time with Mr. M, like we do every Wednesday afternoon. He’s elderly and wheelchair-bound. We talk about the weather, about what’s on the news, about our latest trips. It’s really just a few minutes. We give Mr. M his meal, then we move on to the next door.

But Cindy wanted us to understand more.

She is already in her dad’s apartment most of the afternoons when we come. Arriving after work, Cindy is quietly busy in his kitchen, organizing, cleaning, cooking. Smiling.

She continues in the elevator:

“Dad is really a good man. He’s just lonely. He’s by himself a lot. I try to come every day but I work 10-hour days and it’s hard.”

She’s seen how her dad jokes with us about keeping his suitcase packed, ready to travel with us our next trip. How he asks for hugs. How he wants us to come in and talk as long as we’re willing.

And honestly? Sometimes he is a hard visit.

Mr. M can barely hear us so we have to yell. We grimace at each other through his bear hugs. And he can slow us down when we think we need to hurry.

People Are Offensive

Some people truly are offensive. They cause pain and shame and spread ugliness. We aren’t to overlook it. Issues need to be addressed and problems need to be solved. And sometimes we have to walk away.

Other people simply expect too much from us. They don’t hear us. Their humor or personality or politics is different than ours.

Mr. M sometimes gets our stories mixed up. He asked me Wednesday, “How’s your mother doing?” even though I’ve told him several times that she died in 2010. It’s not my mom but the chronic pain of Kay’s mom that we’ve talked about with Mr. M.

Then he asked Kay about her vacation the previous week, even though I was the one out of town, and she was the one here who delivered his meal.

Yet here’s what we’re learning. Mr. M may talk too loudly and hug too tightly and confuse who is who.

But Mr. M is NOT offensive.

He is more than we see.

He is someone’s dad. He was once someone’s husband. He was an employee and a boss (he tells us he was a detective for years in our town). He’s now a friend to the neighbors on his floor.

  • He is all the things he once was.
  • He is all the things he is now.
  • He is all the things he will be when he leaves earth.

He is another of God’s children, here in our path today, that we are to love and be loved by.

And as time goes by, that task is getting easier and easier.

When we weed out offense, we plant in holy ground.

And grace grows there.

Love Covers the Difference

The past few weeks, Mr. M has started something new with us. The long afternoons of August were extremely hot. Our sweat proved it.

Instead of waiting for us on the 6th floor of his apartment building, he wheeled down in his wheelchair to our car as we unloaded the dinners on the cart. He held two cold water bottles in his hand. One for me and one for Kay. He didn’t want us to overheat. We accepted his gift.

And the next week, he met us in the lobby, again with bottles of water. He puts them in his refrigerator early in the day so they’ll be cold when we arrive. He gave us two again last week.

As we were trying to love him, he was trying to love us, too.

And God let both happen.

I still may notice the crumbs on Mr. M’s shirt. But what I see underneath is a heart that loves enthusiastically.

If God can call me beloved and beautiful, not offended by my selfishness and hard-heartedness and brokenness, then can’t I do likewise?

  • Take the water.
  • Give the hug.
  • Speak a little louder.

To his daughter Cindy, know this: we understand. We see—through you—that your dad was once a good man. And we agree with you: he is still a good man.

No, your dad doesn’t offend us. He loves us. We love him.

This is what matters.

“Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.”
1 Peter 4:8 (The Message)

* * *

Who have you grown to love more as the years go by? Please share in the comments.

23 thoughts on “I Hope He Doesn’t Offend Y’all

  1. Cindy Wilkins

    Well now I have tears in my eyes! What a wonderful story! What a wonderful testimony! And what a wonderful lesson that I need and our world does too! I’m so glad I am your neighbor at Inspire Me Monday today!

  2. blankBeth

    What a sweet and inspiring story, Lisa! You are such a great “lover” of people, that is! You inspire me to go into places where I’d rather not go by your bold and relentless love for the marginalized and broken. Hugs to you and pinning this post for sure!

  3. blankBarbara Harper

    Loved this. Sometimes it’s not easy to look beyond the exterior to the heart of the person underneath. But we’d so appreciate if others did that with us, and we can do unto them what we’d want others to do unto us.

  4. blankMichele Morin

    Oh, this is so good. We fail to look beneath the surface and miss so much of the real person. For a while there was an elderly woman who attended my ladies’ SS class, and her hearing aid whistled, she monopolized the conversation, and the list of offenses goes on–and yet she was a student of the Word and had a heart for God, so we let ourselves love her. And it was so hard…
    Thanks for this peek into your own struggles to be more loving of the unlovable and accepting of the “unacceptable.”

  5. blankYvonne Chase

    How sweet and thoughtful of Mr. M to refrigerate bottles of water for you and meet you outside in his wheelchair. That made me smile. I didn’t see anything offensive about Mr. M in this post. Instead, I see an elderly man doing the best he can with his current limitations. God bless you and God bless him. I hope you continue to visit him and love on each other in your own unique way.

  6. blankLinda Stoll

    Yeah, love covers the difference. It fills our hearts to we can offer grace and kindness and empathy. We see the brokenness and pain in others and in their eyes we see our own woundedness.

    And His.

  7. blanknylse

    I enjoyed getting to know Mr. M through this post. I do think there are times when we have to overlook an offense even in offensive people; especially those we consider offensive. May God give us wisdom to know when to do so.

  8. blankPatsy Burnette

    Oh, man! I dread getting old! 😐 I hope someone will love me as you all love on Mr. M. He’s fortunate to have you and a daughter to take care of him. So many needy people out there that need to be loved on, just like him

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  9. blankAnita Ojeda

    This is beautiful, Lisa. I struggle to remember this lesson–that we are all good people under layers of dirt. God sees the good in us, and we need to train ourselves to look for it in each other.

  10. blankDanita Sullivan

    I have grown to love my elderly mom more and more as the days go by as I am her primary caretaker and she is in hospice. I share this with you because she receives meals on wheels and the service you guys who deliver the meals make all the difference in a day…a smile , a prayer , a hello ….means the world not just to the recipients but to the children the sweet people belong to…God bless you and all the volunteers!

  11. blankJulie Dibble

    Hi Lisa, this line spoke loudly to me:

    “When we weed out offense we plant in holy ground”.

    I can relate to this post in many ways. I cant say much more than that.

    May God bless you and keep you in this ministry He assigned to you. In Christ, Julie

  12. blankLaurie

    What a wonderful post, Lisa. I needed to read this. I deliver meals on wheels. for some people on my route, I am the only person they will talk to all day. I sometimes have a hard time “escaping”. I am always thinking about the meals I must deliver to people who live later in my route and the volunteers waiting for me back at the church kitchen. They cannot leave until I get back, but the clients are (or were) all someone’s mother, wife, sister, brother, husband, father. They need some love and attention too – not eye-rolling!
    “If God can call me beloved and beautiful, not offended by my selfishness and hard-heartedness and brokenness, then can’t I do likewise?” Beautiful!

  13. blankJean Wise

    I am learning even the anger ones, the offensive ones and the hard to love ones I find more compassion, patient and lessons from once I listen and get to know them better. Love the title of this post, Lisa. should be meme or a printable!

  14. blankFaith

    Wonderful post!
    I’ve had to learn to grow in love towards my mother in law. On a shallow level she’s amazing. Butmshe doesn’t know the Lord and definitely doesn’t believe in the saving miracle of Jesus. A complainer and grumpy as she ages. But we continue to pray, sow seeds when we can and cling to the Hope that she come to know Him..the only one who can truly give her Peace, before she dies. Dave’s dad is not as difficult but also still not saved. I’ve learned to just love them where they’re at,.

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