By Wang Liang
“I really can’t stand my roommate! Last night, when I was sleeping deeply, he suddenly woke me up and asked me to play computer games with him. He’s a real pain!”
“What was that? My roommate has gone even further that I just wanna have a fight with him someday.…”
Hearing my classmates’ complaints about their roommates, I recalled how my relationship with my roommate had changed from incompatibility to harmony, and then I offered my sincerest thanks to God.
Act One: My Incompatibility With My Roommate
I am a university student, and came to the new city as an intern in February of this year. Here, my classmates and I helped each other, and we were happy with each other. But the only thing that made me unhappy was that I couldn’t get along well with my roommate Xiaolan.
Xiaolan is my friend’s cousin, and we had met once before we were assigned the same dormitory this time. Originally, I thought that as we had already known each other, there would be more mutual help between us. But out of my expectation, on the first day when we moved in, she said to me: “I am an only child, so you should take care of me in everything. There is some trash in the garbage can. You go and throw it away.” Immediately, I developed an opinion of her, and thought, “Although you are an only child, are you superior to me? Do I have to wait on you hand and foot?” Although I was reluctant, I still took the trash away without saying a word after thinking that I am a believer in God and should live out normal humanity. But what was more unbearable for me was that she was extremely spoilt and headstrong and never cared about my feelings. Each day, she would ask me if the clothes flattered her or which of her clothes looked more beautiful on her and so on. Gradually, I got a little tired of that. One time, when she once again asked me how she looked in her dress, I answered with some impatience: “Not bad.” Then she said angrily: “What do you mean? Am I pretty or not? Why are you so perfunctory and so indifferent to me?” Seeing she looked angry, I really didn’t know what I should say to her. I thought: “How should I be enthusiastic about you? Do I have to spend every day watching you trying your clothes on?” Another time, when she came back late and saw I was in the dormitory, she said to me: “I came back late today. How come you didn’t ask me where I had been? You don’t care about me at all.” Hearing that, I thought: What she said was reasonable. As roommates, we should care about each other, and what’s more, she is my friend’s cousin. Therefore, when she came back late the next night, I said to her: “It’s not safe outside at night, so you should have come back earlier.” Unexpectedly, she said loudly: “Why do you care? It’s really annoying!” On hearing this, I couldn’t help but get annoyed and thought, “When I didn’t care about you, you said I was indifferent; and when I did, you said I cared too much. Well, then from now on, no matter what you do, I will say nothing about it. I’ll see what you will say.”
Thereafter, I felt more and more indifferent toward her. And I also felt more and more dislike of her behavior. For instance: She always talked loudly on the phone till 1 or 2 in the morning, which made me unable to sleep; she never tidied up our dormitory but left things around; once she was unhappy, she would take it out on me and find fault with me, saying that the sound that I made when I closed the door was too loud and that the noise I made when I got up in the morning waked her up. … How many times I wanted to have a fight with her, but thinking that it was not in accord with God’s will and not what a Christian should do, I swallowed it all up. But over time, I really couldn’t stand her and began to counterattack. If she kept me awake the night before, when I got up the next morning, I would make noises willfully as I washed up, without considering if I would disturb her, wanting to show her how it felt to be woken up. When she said that I made so much noise when I closed the door, I didn’t care but thought in my heart: The sound you made when you talked on the phone at night was much louder. In this way, we refused to give in to each other, and thus our relationship became more and more strained.
Later, she strung up a cord across the wall and hung a sheet on it to block out the daylight. Every time when I came in and out, I had to walk through under the sheet. One day, after I had just passed under it, the sheet and the cord suddenly fell down. Then Xiaolan yelled to me: “Can’t you be careful?” I got extremely angry at her shout, thinking: “Usually, I didn’t start a dispute with you, but you really think I am easy to bully? And you even showed no respect for me! You’ve gone too far!” Now, the anger that had accumulated in my heart burst out all of a sudden. I retorted: “Your sheet was clearly in my way, and you still have the gall to yell at me? If you hadn’t hung it here, would it have fallen down?” Then we got into a more violent argument; in the end, we gave the silent treatment to each other. At that time, I really hated her, and even wanted to change a dormitory so as not to see her anymore. But because all the dormitories had been already assigned and couldn’t be exchanged for the time being, I had no choice but to continue to tolerate living with her.
One day, I was studying in the classroom alone. When Xiaolan pushed the door open and saw there was only me in the classroom, she walked right away and slammed the door unhappily. Seeing her act and thinking of her past actions, I felt very awful and wronged, and I hunched over the desk and prayed to God in tears: “Oh, God! I feel so very awful and painful in my heart. I really don’t know how to get along with my roommate. God! I know everything I encounter contains Your good intentions, but I don’t know what aspect of me You wish to make perfect through this environment. Please guide me and lead me.” After praying, I thought of the words in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.…” Then my mind became somewhat clear. Yes! Everything God does contains His good purpose. Even though the environment God has arranged for me is not good in my eyes and not to my liking, it must be beneficial to my life. I should rely on God and obey first, and then learn lessons from this environment and gain the truth.
Act Two: Seeking Truth
Therefore, I consciously found some God’s words to read, and then I saw the following of God’s words: “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 thenand overcome your own problems. This is the attitude and practice of submission. … When it comes to submitting to environments, your environments are often not so simple. You do not merely come across people with bad habits; there are even more things, such as issues to do with disposition, issues to do with personality, and issues to do with how things are done. When you do and handle things, or have some thoughts while encountering things, do not rely on your own intentions or your hot blood. Pray to God and come before Him. This, first of all, is a submissive attitude; it is the first psychological quality you should possess.”
Only through reading God’s words did I know that the reason why I couldn’t get along well with Xiaolan was because I was lacking insights and unable to adapt to the environment. Think back on how I got along with Xiaolan. When I saw she always spoke and acted with reckless abandon, although I didn’t say anything, I was dissatisfied with her in my heart and thought she was too egocentric, and thus had a bad impression of her. And in the following days, I always felt she was too troublesome and lazy, that she was so selfish that she cared only about herself and not about others; also she often lost her temper with me. … What I had seen were all her disadvantages, so I grew tired of her. Consequently, when she sometimes asked me some questions, I would be unwilling to answer. When my sleep was interrupted by her, I would maliciously treat her as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth to show her how it felt to be woken up. Additionally, when she gave me attitude, I would get angry and quarrel with her. In this way, our relationship became more and more strained to the point that we even became as incompatible as water is with fire. At this point, I saw that although I had believed in God, my corrupt disposition still had not changed. When I was faced with the things Xiaolan did that affected my interests, I lived in my corrupt disposition and even used the malicious way to counterattack her, which brought both myself and her harm. Thinking carefully, actually, everyone has their own advantages and disadvantages. Xiaolan is an only child who has lived pretty cozy lives since she was young, so it is inevitable that she is a little spoilt and headstrong. However, her humanity is not bad and she speaks and acts in a very straightforward way. What’s more, she regarded me as her true friend, so she often asked me questions and wanted to listen to my advice. Yet, living in my corrupt disposition, I couldn’t see her advantages but just focused on her disadvantages and had no tolerance and patience toward her, causing us to be unable to get along well with each other and thereby live in pain.
From God’s words, I also saw that God had pointed out the way to practice. As in our life there are all kinds of people and everyone’s living habits are different, I should not live based on my arrogant disposition and hot blood, but should put myself aside, learn to pray to God, and obey God in all things; I also should learn to forbear and be patient with other people, and to treat others correctly. Meanwhile, I too understood that the purpose of God arranging for me such a roommate who always picked fault with me was to allow me to know my own corrupt disposition and to learn how to live by God’s words. After understanding God’s will, I felt a considerable release in my heart.
Act Three: Practicing the Truth
One morning not long after this, I went out to do something and forgot to take my cellphone with me, so I had to go back to my dormitory for it. On the way, I suddenly remembered I had forgotten to turn off the alarm on my phone. I thought Xiaolan would certainly be angry at me for being woken up by my alarm. Sure enough, when coming back to our dormitory, I saw she had sent me several messages and one of them said: “If your cellphone still doesn’t stop ringing, I will throw it away!” After I read these words, a gust of anger in my heart shot straight to the surface, and I thought: “Couldn’t you turn it off? I have always tolerated you, why can’t you understand me for once? You even wanted to throw my phone away. Well, I’d like to see if you dare to do so!” However, when I put my bag on the bed and was going to argue with her, I suddenly realized I was exposing hot blood and that it was not in accord with God’s will. At that moment, one passage of God’s words occurred to my mind: “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God.”
Yes! The thing I encountered today was permitted by God. Now, He is watching my every word and movement and so is Satan, who likes to see people fight with each other and live in pain. I should see through Satan’s evil and not fall for its tricks. Thereupon, I prayed to God in my heart: “Oh, God! After reading the messages Xiaolan had sent me, I am really angry and want to argue with her, but I can’t behave that way. I should rely on You, and not speak or do things according to my corrupt satanic disposition and thus fall into Satan’s tricks. God! Please guide me so that I can be able to live by truth in my daily life.” After praying, my heart gradually calmed down. Thinking that Xiaolan was woken up as a result of my forgetting to turn off my alarm, this was my fault. If we switched positions and I was Xiaolan and was wakened up, I also would be angry. If I didn’t reflect on myself but went argue with her, wasn’t I more unreasonable? So I called on God in my heart and asked Him to give me strength, so that this time I could practice truth and apologize to Xiaolan. Then, when I saw her, I said sincerely to her: “Xiaolan, I am so sorry that I forgot to turn off my alarm this morning, which caused you to be woken up. It won’t happen again. I promise.” After hearing my words, she, who originally stared at me with wide eyes, stunned for a moment and then looked at me in amazement, and said nothing.
Act Four: Living in Harmony
Several days later, our teacher handed out some materials to us, but I was absent at that time. When Xiaolan came back, she proactively said to me: “Here you are. These are the materials Teacher Zhang handed out.” After I took them, I felt really happy, not because Xiaolan proactively talked to me and brought the materials for me, but because when I was willing to put the truth into practice, the relationship between us began to grow warmer. One day, our teacher asked Xiaolan and me to deal with some things. When we returned to our dormitory, Xiaolan said to me: “These things are so complicated I am really afraid that we might not be able to do it well, but you look very calm. I have never seen a person who has such a good attitude like you.” Hearing what she said, I quickly comforted her: “Things can’t be done because of our worries. As the saying goes, ‘Making plans is up to people, while accomplishing them is up to Heaven.’ Worries not only will be of no help, but will affect our mood. So, just try our best and let nature take its course in all things!” Then with a smile, Xiaolan said: “You are right! From now on, I shall learn from you!” Afterward, we often talked with each other; sometimes when she encountered some problems or difficulties, she would ask for my advice, and I would not be impatient like before but would put myself in her shoes and try my best to help her. What’s more, in order to not disturb each other’s repose, we adjusted our respective bedtime; Xiaolan also took off the sheet. Eventually, the conflicts between us were completely ended!
Now, I have finally found the way to get along well with others: learning to obey the environments God arranges, knowing our own corrupt nature through God’s words, and living by God’s words. Only by doing in this way can we have genuine understanding and tolerance toward others and finally live in harmony with others.