Living With A Roommate

Almost every prayer request I’ve received so far mentions anxiety about roommates, so I thought I should offer some thoughts on the subject.

I’ve had over thirty roommates in my educational career. They’ve ranged from seminary students to drug dealers, and I even woke up one morning to find an unknown neo-nazi sleeping in my roommate’s bed!

In other words, I speak with experience when it comes to roommates, and the best piece of advice I can give you is this: the way to have a great roommate is to be a great roommate.

  1. Forbearance should be your watchword. If you don’t know what it means, look it up!
  2. Be realistic. You’re not guaranteed to become best friends with your roommate. In fact, that’s kind of rare. Usually you get a good friend who’s just on the border of your inner circle, and sometimes you simply live in the same room and respect one another. Just accept whatever comes in that department.
  3. Talk frankly about your expectations. If you don’t want your roommate ever touching your stuff, tell them! Be sure to phrase it in a disarming way, "Listen, I’m just a little funny about my stuff. Please don’t touch any of it without asking me first." Also, don’t make that the first thing you say to them. They’re just as nervous as you are, and you don’t want to be the roomate they had nightmares about!
  4. Never ignore conflict. If you fail to address irritation it grows to frustration, then to anger, and then to full-blown animosity and resentment. A year is a long time to seep in bitterness–don’t let it happen to you.
  5. Be sure to remember these words of advice from God: If you shout a pleasant greeting to your neighbor too early in the morning, it will be counted as a curse! (Proverbs 27:14, NLT) Be sure to respect your roommate’s sleep time. Remember–that one’s from God Himself!
  6. And the most relevant piece of counsel in the whole Bible is the Golden Rule: Do for others what you would like them to do for you. (Matthew 7.12, NLT) Note that this is a command to engage in good behavior, not simply to avoid negative stuff. Be proactive in treating your roommate right!

Follow the above advice, and you’ll do just fine.

But Suppose My Roommate Isn’t a Christian?
What a wonderful chance to emulate Jesus; after all, Christ was known as a friend of sinners! However, if you do have a roommate who isn’t serving Jesus be sure to seek out a network of peers who will bolster your faith.

In fact, let me take a moment to strongly encourage you to find a Christian group on campus that you click with. I’d be thrilled if you chose Chi Alpha, but my prime concern is that you find someplace that will nurture your faith. Make finding a Christian community a top priority: Satan feeds off strays!

P.S. If you found this helpful, you might also want to check out Stanford sophomore Andrew Wright’s advice to freshmen.