by Érica dos Santos Rios
As a foreign student in the United States, one American habit that caught my attention was how common it is for young adults to leave their parents’ house and begin living on their own. Although this habit happens more frequently in Brazil, a majority of Brazilians still live with their parents until they get married or until they receive their undergraduate degree.
If you have lived with people that you didn’t know prior to moving, then you have probably had various thoughts and feelings about this situation. And just like me, you have had all kinds of roommates: the one who goes straight to the room when he or she gets home and never says a word to you, the one who comforted you when you needed and became one of your dearest friends, the one you had a big fight with over a small thing and more. I have had good memories from my college household that I will never forget; however fights about household chores, loud music and other issues always made me picture how great it would be to live alone.
Last year, my thoughts became a reality and I started living by myself. Now, I have much fewer conflicts and situations to deal with. I have been able to focus more on my studies and the things I need to get done. I can make the household chores at my time and rest when I want. In other words, life is easier now. However, a circumstance this year made me rethink my decision of living alone.
Recently, I had to spend time with my last roommate. This reminded me of all the things that I had to put up with when we were living together, which eventually became the reason I decided to live alone. After that, I started thinking if there was something wrong about my attitude towards her.
Have you noticed how easy it is for us to pinpoint the defects of the people we have lived with? However, we don’t realize this is a two-way street. We may disguise our defects really well from people at church, college or work but people that live with us sooner or later finds out each one of our imperfections. Just like our family, those people know you better than we want to admit.
Considering that my last roommate is also a member of the body of Christ reminded me of two Bible verses, which I think are two of the most challenging in the Bible. Ephesians 4.1:2 (NIV) states:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
In Portuguese, the expression “bearing with” is translated as “suportando”. This Portuguese word is commonly used in a sense of “putting up with” something or someone. Consequently, for a long time, I didn’t truly understand the actual meaning of this verse. In the Original Greek, the Apostle Paul used the word ἀνεχόμενοι (anechomenoi) that means “to hold up” or “to sustain” which indicates the real effort someone makes to hold oneself erect and firm. Therefore, we are called to help the participants of the body of Christ to continue to stand up.
As human beings we are always looking for the easier way– we are always trying to sweep our conflicts under the carpet instead of facing them. However, God is calling us to go the other way. He is calling us to do the hard thing. He is not calling us to just put up with other Christians’ defects. He is calling us to sustain them.
To conclude, if you ever thought that living alone could solve conflicts, think again! The most it can do is hide them. With that being said, I don’t want to discourage you from living by yourself, nor am I saying that you must live with others. Both options can be a real blessing to your life if you do it for the right reasons. However, if you decide to live by yourself, just keep in mind that only God knows the future. In a few years from now, you may find yourself having to live with other people because of a financial situation, or because you got married and decided to start a new family. Thus, ask God for patience to live well with other people and wisdom to solve conflicts, especially with the ones He has placed closer to you.
“Thayer’s Greek Lexico” Web. 11 February 2016 <http://biblehub.com/greek/430.htm >