He’s rude. He’s inappropriate. He’s foul-mouthed. He thinks he’s funny and cute. He makes snide remarks to people and doesn’t care about the outcome. He speaks his mind with total disregard for whomever he wipes out in the wake of his words. He makes more enemies than friends and couldn’t care less.
He’s the topic of frequent conversations and complaints among other residents at the senior living community where I work.
Sometimes he can be charming. Occasionally he can be sweet. But my experience is more the former than the latter.
As I walked up to the table where he was seated recently, I heard him tell his table mates, “This lady here is a real b*tch.” I don’t know if he was kidding or serious. It didn’t matter really.
This summer I personally registered him to vote and hand delivered his form to the Clay County Board of Elections in Liberty, Missouri. I’ve answered questions that he’s inquired about. I always say hello, am always friendly and reach out to him. But quite frankly it’s not easy. To be honest, I’d rather toss him out with the rest of the trash at the end of the day.
Every month, I run our Resident Council meeting. Yesterday he came. Shocker! He doesn’t attend anything…ever. Before the meeting, I make coffee for the residents and serve each one of them. It was all I could do to serve this man—who is rude, difficult, and unkind—without wanting to “accidentally” spill the coffee on him. But serve him I did. I’m pretty sure he muttered a “thank you” somewhere in there. And I thought for a hot second, “maybe this is progress.” I thought wrong. Later in the meeting he got ticked off at me and stormed out. I shook my head and moved on with the meeting.
Loving the unlovable is a real struggle. It’s frustrating. Loving the unlovable is work, there’s no reward, and it’s not any fun—three things which we spoiled, self-centered Americans aren’t particularly fond of.
I was kinda frustrated at the end of the day as I reflected back. My conversation with Jesus at that point went something like this:
“I’m done. I’m not wasting my time with that guy anymore.”
“Love him anyway.”
“But it’s pure work.”
“Indeed it is. But love him anyway.”
“But I never see any progress in my love for him.”
“Doesn’t matter. Love him anyway.”
“But I served that guy coffee today, adding cream and sugar just the way he likes it, and this is the thanks I get in return?”
“Yes! And by the way…it’s not about you!”
“This straight up stinks!”
“Maybe to you. But your loving the unlovable is a sweet fragrance to Me.”
Deep breath. Reboot. Got it.
You see…whether we know it or not…whether we feel it or not…whether we see progress or not…the sweet fragrance of the likeness of Christ can be an irresistible pull toward the Savior.