Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Harmony in a Dormitory

Daughters like to ask about growing up.  Where will I live? Who will I marry? Where will I work? When Hope was about 4 years old, I read a story and talked to her in bed for awhile, and she asked those questions.  The 'Where will I live when I grow up?' required extra time, and our conversation went something like this:

Will I live with you and daddy when I grow up?
You can live with us until you get married if you want to?
I want to live with you, mommy. She began to rub my hand with her soft little fingers.
You'll probably live with us until you go to college.
I don't want to go to shallege. Still rubbing my hand.
Of course you want to go to college.  College is wonderful.  You'll love college.

Carnegie Dorm, Erskine College
I don't like shallege. What do you do in shallege? You'll meet new friends and learn about what you want to be.
I'm not going to shallege.  I'm living with you. Still rubbing my hand.
Hope, when you go to college, you get to live in a dorm, and you'll have so many friends. You can go to their room anytime and talk. 
I don't want to live in a dorm. I want to live with you. Still rubbing my hand.
That's ok.  You don't have to go to college.  You can live with me.

A few minutes went by, then..
What's a dorm?
It's a big building where you live in college with other girls.  It's kind of like a hotel.
Hope stopped rubbing my hand...
I want to go to shallege!!!!!!
The girl always loved hotels.

Hope at Bates House
University of South Carolina
And while both may be big buildings with rooms, we don't develop relationships with other hotel guests.  Living in a college dorm is an experience like no other.  My freshman year at Erskine, I shared a hall bathroom (showers, sinks, toilets) with two dozen other girls. And for four years, I walked to the dining hall with my new friends, visited their rooms to talk, and tried to live in harmony.  Now, Hope lives in a dorm where she also shares a bathroom with dozens of other girls, walks to dinner, talks, watches movies, and tries to live in harmony with new friends.  This is the part of college that's the most memorable.  Who actually remembers what they learned in math? Who remembers what happened in the dormitory? We don't miss the classes after college. We miss the people.

Hope & dorm
Living with someone else is one of life's most difficult experiences, and I can't think of better practice in harmonious living than a college dormitory.  We have our own ideas, dreams, quirks, and moods. Today might not be the day I want to hang out with friends.  Maybe I want quiet, or maybe someone made me mad yesterday.  One day, I'm difficult.  The next day, someone down the hall is.  Eventually, freshman learn that perhaps mom, dad, sister, and brother were actually normal.

Romans 12:15 "Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep."

And I love New Living Translation of Romans 12:16 "Live in harmony with each other.  Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all."   

How unfortunate for my college friends this version wasn't around thirty years ago. 

Whether we're freshmen in college or a relationship, everything is exciting and new, so we do our best, act nice, and live happily together, but how do we live in harmony when the new wears off (because it always does)?  There's only one way to live in harmony continually. Agape love: the attitude or emotion of deep affection for another, with a focus on loving action and not feelings alone.    

 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14(NLT)

Hope & Jennifer
Agape acts. It's happy when something great happens to you and sad when you're hurt. Agape patiently waits when you take the 5th selfie of the day and doesn't remember when you were not in the selfie mood yesterday. It's the kind of love that overlooks an unmade bed or clothes on the floor, or maybe it lends a hand with the laundry. Agape doesn't act ugly when you have a new dress or car.  It listens to an ipod to study when you watch television. It's the love that lets you borrow shampoo or a sweater, and it's happy to give you the last pop tart.  Even when tired, Agape walks with you across campus on a hot day. It tells you there's something in your teeth before you leave the dorm and agrees to ice cream whether you need it or not. Agape understands a bad mood or silent treatment but genuinely cares about what's bothering you. It's there with a listening ear and a desire to help. This love helps you endure science and math, hoping and believing you'll graduate together.  

This love is from God, so expecting everyone to show agape love is futile. It's for believers. It lets others know we love them like God loves us, unconditionally.  The kind of love that continues when the new grows old and the fresh turns stale.  Agape love makes harmony in a dormitory possible.
Me & 2 of my roommates
Robyn and Jane 2006

Much love,