This past Monday was Labor Day and for most American families it is a time to gather and have one last hoorah for summer before school and fall activities begin. However, for me it is just a day that I most likely had to work. But this year was different, my roommates and I decided that we would host a housewarming party that day to celebrate our new apartment and to intentional about seeing all many of the people we had gotten to know over the last year. Granted to say it is a large amount of people, far more than we could hope to host and feed.
I spent Sunday afternoon prepping the 15 pounds of chicken breast to be grilled the next day for tacos. It took me an hour and half to debone and season the breasts. Then I went on the prep my chicken for the next week or so, about 12 pounds worth. I spent about three and a half hours prepping and cooking on my lazy Sunday afternoon. It was time well spent.
Monday everyone pitched in to clean the house in preparation for our guests. We finally got the last few boxes unpacked that were lingering in the common area and got the mountain of recycling put out to pasture. We managed not to burn down the the complex or cut off a finger. People showed up and ate and talked with each other. It was an overall great time of reconnection. However, I think it was too many people for me to actually get to talk to people in depth.
Since moving in here, I have recognized that my cleaning habits have changes since I last lived on my own. I have a desire to keep my kitchen and common areas tidy. This was something that I desperately lacked when I lived in Mission Springs- maybe it has to do with the fact that I am sharing this space with three other people who I care for and respect. I also recognize that my confidence in cooking has improved- which is good because the amount of cooking I need to do to feed my self requires me to be competent…
I am slowly learning about everyone’s routines and quirks. How they like to cook, clean, study, take showers, express their displeasure or concerns, etc. When I start to get frustrated, I remind myself that I have quirks that may irk my roommates and I start to take perspective. I am not changing who I am necessarily, but taking time to recognize that world is not Me, Myself, and I and how I live at home has affects on these people I have only know for less than a year. We sat down within the first day and talked our expectations about food sharing and cleaning, we are confronting issues big and small in ways that are more mature than I expected.
I believe that people, no matter how similar they are or how many shared views on life they may have, there will always be different expectations that they have of themselves and others. My roommates and I are all Christians, older than the average undergrad at Biola, and glad to be living off campus; but we all have arrived at this place by different means; we are in different places in our Christian walks, have different life events that have shaped us; which results in different expectations of each others in the house.
I do not think I have been in a living situation like this before. I have lived with roommates, but usual for only a few months at camps and we were rarely in the room, rarely risking conflict or confrontation. I have lived in host homes, but their I was considered more of a guest, not a roommate. But here, we there is a laundry list of guidelines and expectations that needs to be established: study habits, cleaning schedule, shared/sharing food, accountability, sleep patterns. Living in community is messy because people are messy. People are a messy because our human nature is messy and sinful and we are constantly being sanctified. And messy people drip on to other people and cross lines and people do not necessarily like their lines being crossed. I have found patience and grace are paramount.