Friday, July 19, 2019

10 years of living with a ton of people from all over the globe: 3 take-aways

I live in a mansion in the woods with a bunch of people. 

Last night we had a ping pong tournament and watched a Chinese movie called "Red Cliff." I'm not into staying up past 9 or watching movies but I miss Asia, so I joined the whole clan on couches in the basement. 

My bedroom is across the hall from the kids' room, I share a fridge with two men and a seven-year-old, and the three-year-old is in my bed 95% of nights. 

Community it's called. Been living with wild assortments of people for 10 years now. Unless you call my family a wild assortment of people, then I've been living in community my entire life, minus one year (it was a gloriously easy year after graduating college).

From the farm house where I grew up into a 12x15 feet dorm room with a Japanese girl. We had some different habits, me and her, our floor stayed covered in long black and blonde hairs, but she was kind and so was I (most of the time) so we managed along just fine. She made sushi for me before she moved. I drove her to the airport and she gave me her favorite pair of jeans. 

The next nine years entailed roommates like this: sisters, women from six countries in a little house in Mozambique, a girl I'd met once in my Grandma's renthouse (she became my good friend even though I wasn't really into the 'roommate' thing at the time, having just come out of the gloriously easy living-by-myself year and was a jerk to her frequently), 95 kids in a children's home in India, a pretty and creative blonde South African and a coffee-loving and thoughtful American in Hong Kong, a missionary in Thailand, a barely-knew-her-interesting girl in a hotel room in Myanmar for a few weeks, six African queens and an American BFF in Hong Kong, and now, the commune in the woods.    

The guy who lives upstairs has red facial hair, is the loudest laugher I've ever heard, and has a tender heart. He asked me how my dentist appointment went the other day. The man who lives with his seven-year-old daughter in the floor below me has an unusually deep voice, cleans a lot (hallelujah) and just bought his daughter a trampoline, which is set up in the grass right below my bedroom window and I often get invited to jump on it by all the little roommates. His daughter may be an angel. And she has awesome hair that she ties handkerchiefs around. Because that's what angels do. The guy in the basement is a musical mastermind and gave me a piano lesson this week, the husband and wife who brought all the other little roommates into the world are my sister and brother-in-law (and friends and life-encouragers), and the guy who lives out back with his new wife is a caring computer genius, his wife a polite ping pong prodigy from China. Oh, and we have a new dog and two kittens. 

I'm an intro-intro-introvert. Some people are surprised by this, some even argue with me; because I like people, they tell me, I must be an extrovert. But as much as I like them, being around them isn't how I get fueled--being alone, very alone, is how I do that. And being alone, very alone, is challenging when you live with half the population of Kentucky. 

For 10 years now, I've been learning to adapt--to wake up at the crack of dawn before the others emerge from their beds, to relax about spilled stuff on the kitchen counters, to not flip out about all the activity happening in the fridge, to go on lots of walks, and to be nicer.  

Life isn't about me. 
But boy do I forget that. 
Living in community is a super good reminder. Life is about loving God (and thus becoming more like Him), and loving people. 
Love--that's the whole big point of life.  

It would be easier to live by myself--only my shoes at the backdoor, decorate how I want, go to bed without trying to drown out the roommates' noise--easy stuff. But then I don't get a pair of Japanese jeans or piano lessons or in-depth lessons on mothering or become family with women from Africa as we dine on Ugandan dishes at the dinner table or become family with the odd collection of people in the big house as we watch Chinese-subtitled movies. Living with all these people--God is growing love in my soul. 

He said He made human beings in His image. I've noticed there's quite a bit of variety in human beings (20 year-old Japanese girl roommate and 46 year-old American man roommate have a few differences) so it seems to me, the more people I live with, the more of God's image I see up close and personal. That makes sense.  

Don't get me wrong, you don't have to live with a bunch of people to have community or have love grow or see God's image. You can live by yourself and find community and all it's benefits (and trials) in a number of ways. 

This week I got to hangout with a couple friends who believe in me; it's amazing what a nice friend can do for a person's heart. God made it that way, where we need and help and lift and refresh and encourage each other. Whether we share a house or just coffee, we can regularly help someone's heart by believing in them and being nice. 

 3 take-aways:

1. improve on loving your neighbor (and not be a jerk) 
2. all the mercy (God floods us all with it)
3. sorta how Heaven is (tons of people together)

Community: it's hard and good for our selfish hearts and fun.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
-Psalm 133:1