Roommates: A Blessing, Sometimes in Disguise

By Hohna Cass

“Ha any se my low andals?” My muffled voice called from the back of the closet.

Emerging from the tangle of dresses and blouses, I shoved my hair away from my face and bellowed, “Has anybody seen my yellow sandals? The new ones?”

Two distant voices called back, “No!” — “I haven’t!”

I glanced at the clock and my frustration mounted. I was my usual five minutes late, and heading toward ten. Hastily, I shoved black sandals on my feet.

Three minutes later I pushed open the front door and headed across the lawn. A familiar blue car pulled into the drive, and one of my roommates slid out from behind the wheel.

“Hey!”

“Hey yourself! Where are you going?”

“Dinner! With Tracy and some friends!”

“Have fun!”

As I pulled away from the house, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw my roommate opening the front door. Her feet looked happy and bright in my new yellow sandals.

Living with three other women is…an experience, and not one I expected to extend much beyond my college days. Nevertheless, one hot August, nearly five years ago, we moved into our first home together—a townhouse. It was a relief to live in a place where we could share an occasional meal and split the expenses. And maybe we knew, or maybe we didn’t, that lying ahead of us was the gigantic task of melding four individuals into one household. Either way, it was out there, a challenge just waiting to be met.

Adjusting to each other was frustrating and sometimes painful. At times, our differences in personality became glaring points of conflict, and we argued as our household boundaries took shape. We argued about the kitchen, we grumbled about the bathroom, and we strongly disagreed over the living room. Inevitably, we hurt each others feelings as we learned how to communicate by trial and error.

And yet, proximity and shared experiences drew us to each other, and we formed a bond in spite of our struggles. At night we debriefed about the day’s work. On a slow Saturday morning, we ate waffles, drank coffee, and talked about the future. And on Sunday night, we bemoaned a weekend so quickly passed.

Friends suggest we will be much more prepared for marriage after all we’ve been through. Not being an expert on that subject, I feel safer saying we are simply well practiced in the art of compromise. Imagine decorating one smallish home with four female opinions. Though the end result probably defies any true categorization, I like to call it…eclectic.

With a few years under our belts, we have fallen into a routine with only occasional flair-ups. Singles who live without roommates marvel at our ability to live together in relative peace. They ask how we get chores done and when we ever get a moment to ourselves. Their questions are valid. After all, when you find yourself mowing the lawn for what feels like the tenth time in a row, or lying awake at one a.m. listening to the loud laughter of roommates and their friends, you start wondering the same things.

I admit I daydream from time to time about a clean kitchen sink, organized cupboards, unlimited access to the remote control, and inviting friends over on the spur of the moment. If I lived alone, I could have all these things and more. The problem is that when I add up those personal conveniences, they do not equal the value of good roommates. A well-organized apartment doesn’t lend much of a listening ear, and a clean kitchen sink offers little in the way of companionship.

Months and years of being together have revealed the blessings of a shared household. Thinking back, I remember uncontrollable fits of laughter, intense discussions, tears of joy and of pain, and comfortable silences over good books and warm drinks. I see that we are not the same people we were when we moved in together, and that who we are today is greatly influenced by the friendship grown during our time as roommates.

Most importantly, I recognize that when you live with people who share your faith in Christ, and take their own faith seriously, you have access to support and accountability that can be difficult for single adults to find. Roommates who are seeking God will unconsciously bless you through their daily lifestyle choices.

For example, one of my roommates decided to clear time out of her schedule, just so she could be available to her friends in need. I consider myself somewhat stingy with my daily 24 hour allotment, and her decision made me stop and question how much time I allow for others in my schedule. Another roommate has made a regular habit of showing me forgiveness in the small things, inspiring me to extend grace to those in my debt.

Of course, my roommates are real people who make mistakes, offend, and stumble in their walk with Christ. But they are sincere and regular in turning back to God. Living with them makes me the beneficiary of God’s love at work in their lives.

I know that it is possible to find Christian friendship and accountability outside the four walls of a home. And I can understand that hodgepodge—I mean, eclectic—decoration, an overall lack of personal space, and compromise, compromise, compromise do not sound like the best way to spend the “freedom years” of your singleness. Even so, if you are up to the challenge, the right roommates can touch your life forever. From the inside looking out, I’d say the hard work is worth the blessing.

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