The Story of My Foreign Roommates and Me
“Ganen, I’m going on a journey. It’s not safe to carry money and the bank card with me, so please keep them for me. Thank you!”
“Ganen, this cosmetic does some good. Please use it, and your pimples will disappear.”
“Ganen, are you free now? Let me curl your hair, and then you’ll look more beautiful.”
Reading these dialogues, do you think they are my family? Let me tell you secretly. They’re my roommates. Furthermore, they are from different countries, speak different languages and have different skin colors. Now, we can live together in harmony. This effect is just obtained after we have gone through baptisms of many “wars.” Do you wonder how I can get on so well with them? What tricks on earth do I have? Don’t worry. Let me tell you.
In reality, we couldn’t live harmoniously at the beginning. We came from different countries, with different languages, living habits, diets and cultures, and all this brought serious trouble to our interactions.
We lived in an apartment, sharing a kitchen, and even a dinner service. Gradually, I found some of my roommates often didn’t wash the dishes, but only put them in the sink after finishing eating; when the refuse bag in the kitchen was full and it was their turn to take it out, they didn’t do it. Every time I came home from work, there came the wretched and disgusting smell to me, and this was what I couldn’t bear the most. So the first thing I would do was, with my nose covered, to open the window to allow air to pass through. … I was full of complaints and I thought: Oh, gosh! The life cannot move on. How do I become roommates with them? This is just horrible.” I just wanted to tell them, “I don’t like this smell. As soon as I smell it, I’ll have a headache and feel nauseous.” Nevertheless, I feared if I said this, my friendly relationship with them would end, with the result that we would not get along later. I thought the Lord Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves and forgive others seventy times seven times, so I was patient with them all the time.
However, my patience didn’t last long, and some friction came upon us. When I saw not only did they not take out the garbage, but they always mixed it, I was annoyed and thought: You even don’t have general knowledge of life. If you don’t separate the trash properly, then we will be fined. I have to talk to you about it. Then I patiently told them how to classify the garbage, and I also explained if they didn’t do it, then we would have to suffer the consequences. After that, I thought they would do so. Unexpectedly, they still stuck to their own ways of doing things, and continued mixing the trash. Seeing this, I became extremely angry and cried, “Come here, please. Who threw the trash and mixed it again? Have I not told you to separate it?” At my words, one of them came and embarrassedly said, “It was me. I forgot to separate it.” When I saw her showing an embarrassed look, more than half of my anger vanished. Then I smilingly said, “It doesn’t matter. Please remember this next time.” I never thought a few days later, I saw another big bag filled with the mixed trash. At that time, I was really speechless. I thought in my heart, “Don’t you understand what I said at the other times? Please separate the garbage. Fine, since you don’t get it, then I’ll tell you again and again. I don’t believe I can’t change you.”
Just when I wanted to do this way, I remembered God’s word says, “Suppose God arranges an environment for you. You say, ‘I love cleanliness; I don’t like there to be any odors, I don’t like people who are filthy, and I don’t like looking at disgusting things.’ However, those people living with you snore and talk during sleep, smack their lips when having their meals, and have other bad living habits. What happens to you is exactly what you dislike. In this case, what do you do? Is it right for you to hate people? You lovingly, patiently help these people change their bad habits; is this right? Is this purpose or intention of yours correct? (No.) So what should you do? You must have the correct attitude. What attitude is that? (Submission.) … When you encounter this sort of situation, both parties should adapt to each other; none of these are actual shortcomings. People live for so many years, and are unhappy with eighty or ninety percent of what they encounter. You frown upon this and disapprove of that, but what do you dislike? Some of these things are actually your own problems, so you should not make a big deal out of them. When people get older, they realize that they are not noble, and that they are no better than others. Do not think that you are superior to other people, or more dignified and distinguished than they are; you must learn to adapt to your environment. To adapt to your environment, you must first realize something: There are all kinds of people out there, with all sorts of living habits. Living habits do not represent a person’s humanity. Just because your living habits are disciplined, normal, and dignified does not mean you possess the truth. You need to get this fact through your head, and gain a positive appreciation for it. Furthermore, God has arranged such a fantastic environment for you. You have too many personal issues; you must learn to adapt, and not pick at the bad habits of others. Moreover, you have to be able to get along with them based on love, and get close to them; you need to see their strengths, learn from their strengths, and then pray to God and overcome your own problems. This is the attitude and practice of submission.”
God’s words calmed my impulsive heart immediately. I pondered, “That’s right. Every one of us has our own lifestyle and habits, as well as some shortcomings. I shouldn’t force the others to act according to my requirements. When they didn’t listen to me, I hated and complained about them, and even wanted to change them with my ability. I realize that I was so arrogant. I let the others learn how to classify the garbage. This isn’t wrong, but what I revealed and expressed all became controlled by the disposition of arrogance. This was so unreasonable. Even if I have common sense about life and have a good and disciplined living habit, this does not mean I own the truth. I can’t force the others to obey me, for we all are created beings and equal. What’s more, they haven’t been abroad for a very long time and don’t know the local language. So it’s normal that they don’t know about local laws, and I should be considerate of them but not ask them to agree with me.” At that moment, I understood God’s will: That He arranges this environment is to perfect me. No matter whom I get along with, I should let go of myself, pray to God to seek His will, submit to the environment, be a reasonable Christian, behave and conduct myself based on God’s words and live out the likeness of true human beings.
In the following days, I no longer fixated my eyes on my roommates nor did I want to change them. Instead, I did my best to do what I should do, such as actively separating the trash and taking it out. Once, when I was separating the garbage they mixed, they saw and gave me a thumbs-up, and said, “Ganen, you’re so capable. Can you tell me how to classify the trash in detail again?” Seeing them actively asking me, I felt very happy. Then, I took all sorts of the trash and explained to them with gestures. From then on, they all began to consciously separate the garbage.
On another occasion, when I went to take out the trash, I collected the others’ trash. One of my roommates said, “Ganen, this trash shouldn’t be taken out by you. It’s theirs. Put it down.” Hearing this, I smilingly said, “It doesn’t matter. Since we live in the same apartment, we are a family. We should help each other, shouldn’t we? There’s no need to make such a clear distinction.” In her surprised eyes, I took away all the trash, humming a tune. At this point, I felt sweetness, which was the comfort from my spirit. Little by little, I found whether I busied myself with work so that I didn’t take out the garbage or someone forgot to do that, the others didn’t cry any longer, “Whose turn is it today？Who didn’t take out the trash?” But instead, we understood and tolerated each other. If someone was free, then she would consciously take out the trash. When I saw this happen, I especially thanked God. We haggled over every small thing at the beginning, but now we could be considerate toward and tolerate one another. All changes just resulted from my conducting myself by God’s word.
A few days later, a “war” broke out among my roommates because one of my roommate sang songs loudly every morning, and this affected us. Moreover, this made me unable to calm down to pray or carry out spiritual devotions. Due to this, I have some resentment in my heart and was very upset. Then, I prayed to God to protect my heart so that it could become tranquil in front of Him. At that time, other roommates suggested that the roommate who sang not to sing loudly. However, she not only didn’t accept it, but she sang more loudly. When I saw she was being unreasonable, I suppressed my inner anger and went to persuade her, “Excuse me, we need to understand and be sympathetic to one another. Now everyone is resting. Could you keep your voice down or sing with your door closed?” Unexpectedly, as soon as my voice subsided, she shouted at me with her face full of anger, “Get off! Get off. I just want to sing. It’s none of your business” Seeing her unreasonable look, I angrily turned and left. I thought to myself: “I persuaded you with good intentions. But you spoke to me like this, just as the saying, ‘You really don’t know what’s good for you.’ Go ahead and sing. When the others are all against you, it will be too late for you to regret.” Because she still insisted on singing, another roommate was so angry that she cried. Then they had a huge fight. Afterward, we spent our days fighting this cold war. Sometimes, we cooked in the kitchen or had meals on the same table, but we didn’t speak to one another. We all lived in an atmosphere of depression.
After several days, my roommate who sang fell ill and had a fever, and lying lonely on the bed. The others said, “That’s great. We eventually will have a quiet environment these days.” I nodded with agreement and thought: “Right. I can finally not be annoyed. Who let you not care for the others’ feelings? I advised but you didn’t listen to me. You even shouted at me. You really bring this on yourself.” However, seeing her lying lonely on the bed, I felt she was pitiful. Then, looking at my own revelations and living out, I realized I did not have the likeness of a Christian.
At that moment, I remembered a passage of fellowship: “He who is kindhearted has no malice in his heart. You may owe him, yet he does not reckon with you; he feels he absolutely cannot owe you, so he will not owe you. Besides, you may offend him, yet he does not want to offend you, much less to harm you. Isn’t this being kindhearted? If someone has done a thing unbeneficial to him, he can put himself in his position, can forgive him, and can sympathize with and understand him. This is also a manifestation of being kindhearted. Some people did much evil in the past and now they believe in God and can pursue the truth; they can forgive others all the more and can treat them rightly and fairly. Such people are kindhearted ones. A kindhearted person has forbearance, mercy, forgiveness, endurance, and even more love and sympathy for others in his heart. So, people all like to contact such people and all want to make friends with such people.” In this passage of fellowship, I saw people who are kindhearted have no malice, won’t harm others, and can forgive and be considerate of others. However, what did I live out? When my roommate was ill, I not only didn’t care for or help her, but just looked on and took pleasure in her misfortune for she didn’t follow my advice before. What was the difference between what I revealed and lived out and what the unbelievers did? Today I encountered this environment, and God’s will was to awaken my heart and soul, and allow me to live out the likeness of true human beings, being able to forgive others, sympathize with them and treat them with love.
Having understood God’s will, I thought she still didn’t have a meal and maybe she was hungry. So, I went to the kitchen to cook a bowl of noodles, poured a glass of water, took them to her bedside, and raised her up for the meal. When the others saw what I did, they also came to her bedside. With surprised and unimaginable expressions, they looked at me and gave me a thumbs-up, saying, “Ganen, you’re so kind. She always sang songs loudly and affected us. Now she’s ill and we think we can finally have the quiet environment. We never thought you would pour water and cook for her. You’re so good.” As they said that, they applauded me. At this point, I felt special sweetness and comfort. I knew this was not because I was good; this was the result that God’s words achieved in me. Then, I seriously said word by word, “Please don’t praise me. Just thank God. I’m a Christian. God asks us to help and tolerate each other, and I practice based on His words. Since we live together, we’re a family. I can cook for her and this is because of His teachings and love.” They all said, “Thank God! Thank God!”
Afterward, we got along with each other more and more harmoniously. We could communicate with, tolerate, bear, and understand one another. During this period, even if I encountered some things that couldn’t be in accordance with my own conceptions, under the guidance of God’s words, I could understand them soon. Gradually, we felt as if we were of the same family. They all knew I’m a Christian. Seeing my living out, they were all willing to come into contact with me and trust me.
One day, one of my roommates was going far from home. Before leaving, she gave the purse, bank card, and all the certificates to me. I felt surprised, asking: “Why do you give them to me? They are very important, so you can let one of your friends keep them for you.” Unexpectedly, she said, “I feel uneasy letting my friends keep them. My friends are all two-faced, so it’s hard for me to trust them. Instead, you’re a Christian, kind and honest. You put me at ease, so I want to entrust these things to you.” Hearing her saying this, I particularly thanked God in my heart. If it had not been for God’s enlightenment and guidance, what I lived out would have been the same as what the unbelievers did. It was God’s leadership and guidance that made me live out the semblance of a human. The feeling of being trusted was so good.
Later, our relationship with each other became more and more harmonious. The difference in language, living habits, and diets was no longer an obstacle to our interactions. We often shared delicious food that we enjoyed; we talked about characters of our own countries; we went shopping together in the supermarket …
After these experiences, I genuinely appreciated that only when we conduct ourselves in accord with God’s words can we live out the likeness of true human beings. Thus, we will no longer conspire and scheme against each other and we will live in harmony. All the glory be to God. Amen!