Cowboy boots, Tolkien shirts, massive belt buckles, a sweet southern drawl — those were my first impressions of the man who would be my roommate sophomore year.
He was no boring Michigander, but a character straight out of my imagination of the South. I came from a totally different direction: the barely-represented Northeast. I sported an aspiring prep style: boat shoes, Nantucket red (practically speaking, pink) pants, and lots of linen. We may have been placed on the same floor, but we were two very different people. The possibility of rooming together was far from my mind at first.
But then again, our surprisingly common upbringing and mutual search to glorify God drew us into a more meaningful connection, and moved us closer into the position of becoming roommates for our sophomore year.
It was an accidental, double-booked meeting with Associate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers that launched us into weekly conversations together.
When considering getting to be roommates, Clay told me he wanted to “get on my schedule.” My schedule is far from typical for a college student: 9:30 p.m. bedtime and wake-up around 6 a.m.. No homework past 10 p.m., no exceptions. This yearning for my abnormal habits was something I didn’t understand at first, but was what ultimately brought us together.
That first fall, he also fell into my other routine: working out at 7 a.m. at the Splex with Chief.
It was here that we began to really bond over memorable quotes from our virtual workout leaders — Tony Horton and Shaun T. — which became inside jokes that kept us laughing right up to bedtime.
Then there was our post-workout obsession with listening to a wide variety of worship music, from age-old hymns to the latest releases. During these impromptu praise sessions, we explored and analyzed a mutual pet peeve of ours: song lyrics that appeared doctrinally questionable or just plain funny.
It was during this time that the ’90s worship music like “Made Up Mind” by Geron Davis became forever part of our story. This song, along with many others, would fill up our quote book of lyrics to both tease and encourage each other on to the truth of living for Christ.
Through these conservations, with jaws exhausted from laughing and smiling so much, we would head to classes just a little more jovial.
But that did not eliminate space for serious conversations. Over the last two years, we have made it a priority to meet with one another for a special time of prayer at least once a week. In those conservations, we would go deep into accountability — sharing our thoughts, desires, and fears, and encouraging each other by pointing back to Scripture and God’s faithfulness in our lives. Our drives listening to worship music on the way to church and talking about what we learned on the way back also pushed us toward a mature faith.
This initial bond of brotherhood formed us not only into better friends, but also into better roommates.
A roommate is not just someone who shares your room, but a special individual that shares a part of your life. Through rooming with someone else, you have the unique opportunity to practice humility, patience, and bearing with each other in love.
Whether it’s committing to go without desserts for a month, encouraging each other about papers, or figuring out how to make our room as dark as possible for sleeping, working together as roommates was rewarding for both of us:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 10).
Having a good relationship with your roommate takes work. But if you make time to learn each other’s needs, it will be a huge blessing.