Some Tips and Tricks
Having a roommate, floor mates, and a brother or sister floor can be one of the greatest joys of your college years. Friendships, adventures, late night talks, sharing joys and sorrows, meeting people from all over the world are enormous opportunities that you can take advantage of. They can also be a point of conflict, misunderstanding and distress. It is absolutely critical to understand that community, both intimate and extended, is the work-out room of your relationship with God. It is not by chance that Jesus said, “If you love me, love your neighbor.”
And, it is not by chance, that Wheaton College has campus living as one of its four pillars of education (along with academics, co-curricular activities, and chapel). For eight months of the year, you are intentionally living with roommates and floor mates in all their glory and uniqueness. There are challenges of communication, expectations, teamwork, reconciliation, conflict management, and the working out of 1 Corinthians 13 within a real-life scenario. You are not only building mental muscles while you attend Wheaton, you are putting your faith into practice with real people in a real community. That is why we have students living in campus housing during their college experience and why we do not simply change up housing situations within the school year when things feel uncomfortable, challenging or overwhelming. The Residence Life staff walks alongside students, giving them both support and challenge, and helps walk them through the practices of the Christian life as it pertains to their living situation.
The purpose of Residence Life is:
to create physically and relationally supportive environments
where students are challenged to live out the body of Christ and grow in His likeness.
With that as our overarching Res Life purpose, we do have some practical tips and tricks to help you through your exciting roommate adventure.
Tip number 1- Even if you cloned yourself and roomed together, at some point you are going to think about leaving your totally incompatible roommate for someone “better.” Although your roommate has been created in the image of God, and for that fact alone, is worthy of your love, they also have a lovely stamp from Adam and Eve’s playbook of sin, and will be trading personal injuries with you throughout the year.
Tip number 2 – Just like the man from the Bible, forgiven of a gigantic debt, who then ran to his neighbor’s house and demanded the small sum that was owed him, you are going to want to throw your roommate “into debtor’s prison” at some point during the school year. When you feel wronged somehow by your roommate, whether being woken up at 1:00am by a crackly bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, or climbing over a mountain of their clothes graded at a 5.12 climbing wall difficulty, you have two good options:
You can overlook the offense; or
You can humbly communicate with your roomie (like the forgiven sinner you are) and come to a practical arrangement that works live-ably well for both of you.
All other options have been thoroughly tested in the residence halls to disastrous ends.
Some fan favorites
- Over-Inflated Tire: The hold it in until I explode method
- Gang’s All Here (except Mary): The talk to everyone BUT your roommate approach
- Microwaved Marshmallow: The I’m a righteous martyr ego-booster method
- Cut and Run: The I’ll sleep on my friend’s couch and now the conflicts gone approach
- Judas, Judas, He’s our Man: The I’m paying big money, move me now method
- I’d Appreciate It If: The passive aggressive post-it-note distribution method
- SubText: The why talk about it as humans when we can text our frustrations method
It is almost impossible not to fall into one or some of these fan favorites depending on your particular temperament or proclivities. But, just like C.S. Lewis’s, Screwtape Letters, it can be helpful to name and call out the pathways that look so broad and tempting but lead to eventual ruin of relationships. The guidelines that God sets up for us regarding loving our neighbor are not for his thriving but for ours. The disciplines involved in loving our neighbor (or more specifically our roommate) might feel like work, but they are the planting, pruning, watering and waiting that is involved in producing the garden of delights that God intends for Christian community to enjoy.
You will discover that no matter where you came from, city-or-suburb, domestic-or-global, you will find that people on your floor (and in your room) will have different values, different methods of interacting, and different functions in the body of Christ.
- Feeling vs. Thinking
- In-the-box vs. Out-of-the-box
- Direct vs. Indirect
- Extrovert vs. Introvert
- Challenge vs. Harmony
- Intuitive vs. Sensory
- Caution vs. Risk
- Expressive vs. Restrained
- Process vs. Efficiency
If we assume that we are the measure of what is good and right, we are going to miss out on the fullness of the reflection of God in His creation. We can look at our neighbor with a critical and limited lens, and our eyes will become darker, or we can see the signature of God in the very thing that feels bothersome at the moment, and realize that there is a true reflection of God in our neighbor that we can fan into fullness. The once irritating “indirectness” becomes a reflection of God’s gentleness in our life. The “emotional wreck” shows us the beauty of God’s willingness to be affected by his creation. The “pushy and hasty” study group member is a reminder that God is the master strategist, efficient and forward leaning.
We know that you are coming into your room and onto your floor with both excitement and some trepidation. We encourage you to hold your expectations very loosely because community, if it is one thing, is imperfect. We also challenge you to spend less time thinking about yourself and how you will fit in or if you will have a good time, and more about how you will love and encourage the people that God puts directly around you with the gifts and passions that He has given you.
Please know that the Res Life staff is praying for you by name and is here to encourage, challenge and support you during your time at Wheaton.
Upperclass Halls RD
Apartments and Houses RD