What I’ve Learned About Living in Community

What I’ve Learned About Living in Community

I originally penned this post back in August when my spirit was high off the joy of camp life. The words fermented in my drafts folder, forgotten, until yesterday. For my current stage of life, I am back living with my parents, which, as a 22-year-old, proposes a relational confusion (am I child or an adult?). As I read the words that I wrote just months ago, the Holy Spirit comforted me. God’s will is that I will be sanctified wherever I am, and I am called to minister to whomever is near me. So for now, I am being sanctified and ministering in my hometown. And when I move to my next dwelling, I will be sanctified there. I hope this post encourages you like it encouraged me.

The last three years of college spoiled me a little.  After freshman year, I never had a roommate.  Although my dorm rooms always had two closets, two dressers, two desks, and two beds, I was the only person living in the room.  It was nice.

And then I graduated, and I worked at a camp in Texas for three months, and my living space shrunk.

For the first two weeks of the summer, I shared a room with two other girls.  It was undoubtedly different from having my own room, but the girls were amiable and considerate.  I couldn’t complain.

When the camp announced our new room assignments, I inwardly mourned.  There were fourteen other staffers in my room. When I first walked into the room and saw all of the bunk beds lined up, my jaw dropped.  This overpopulated tiny space was a recipe for disaster, but, by God’s grace, my roommates were peaceable and easygoing.  I learned to appreciate that rooming situation.

Then rooms were reassigned (again,), and I squeezed into a tiny room with three of my closest camp friends. There were definite perks.  We had great “pillow talk” and prayers together.   There were also struggles, but these struggles taught me a few lessons about living in community.

1. Minimize your footprint.

When you are sharing a room with others, it is helpful only take up a small amount of space.  As much as possible, keep your personal belongings contained in a single area.  This not only makes the room feel less cluttered, but also gives your roommates space to keep their belongings as well.

2. Clean up after yourself.

Leaving a mess for your roommates can easily cause frustration.  Bless your roommates by making your bed, rinsing out the sink, and wiping down the shower.  A few minutes of care can keep you from hours of discord.

3. Be gracious.

There are some frustrations that are not worth voicing.  Maybe your roommate always gets her coffee face scrub on the wall, and you always have to wipe it off after she is done.  This isn’t worth an argument.  Forgive her; she probably doesn’t even realize that she is leaving a mess.  Grace is necessary if you want to live in harmony with others.

4. Be honest.

Does your roommate wake you up every night when she turns on the lights?  Tell her.  It is better for you to have an honest conversation than for your frustration to silently build until you explode.  It takes wisdom to know when to be gracious and when to speak up, but I believe that both have their proper place.

My biggest words of advice for any rooming situation are these: God’s will is your sanctification (I Thess. 4:3a). He can (and will) use every situation to conform you to the image of His Son, but wherever you are, you are thereby God’s appointment.

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