(Note: Some of the names in this article have been changed to respect privacy.)
As I'm writing this, it just so happens to be the birthday of one of the most beautiful souls I know: my roommate this upcoming year and the last. So today I want to celebrate the blessing it's been to have her in my life. To thank God for bringing us together. To express my gratitude to her for making a consistent effort to bring me closer to Him.
She has been a voice of reason when I'm addled, my consolation in times of trouble, and a devoted companion even when I fall short. In her consistent patience with me, generosity of her energy, and dedication to holding me accountable, she has inspired me to put others' needs before my own, regardless of their worthiness.
And looking back on how it all started, our "roommate-tionship" has been a reminder. A reminder of how God's brilliant plan and timing often far exceed what we have in mind.
If you've been following my articles thus far, you might recognize some of the themes present in this story. They will all be recurring here because this is kind of where they all come together.
Just a little over a year ago, I was convinced that I would be satisfied if my roommate and I simply got along well. We didn't have to be close friends. Heck, we didn't even have to be more than acquaintances. As long as we were on good terms and could communicate well when necessary, I would be content. Nonetheless, I was still ecstatic at June orientation, when I received a slip of paper that informed me that I was assigned Room #241 in St. Thomas More Hall with Brooke Holt. Eager to meet her, I asked a guy on the Orientation Staff if she was signed up for that weekend. To my dismay, I found after he checked the list on the clipboard, that she wasn't on the list for that weekend.
I remember sighing, trying to combat my envy of the roommates I saw meeting all around me.
"That'll be me soon enough. I don't have to wait too much longer," I thought, as I sent a text, explaining who I was, to the number for Brooke listed on the sheet. I couldn't wait for her reply. I wanted to know how many siblings she had, what movies she liked, her favorite snacks. However, days passed. Days became a week. Until two weeks had passed, and I still hadn't heard back. Around that point, I realized that the number I had texted could have been a landline, so I called it. When it went to voicemail, I found that I had indeed been foolishly awaiting an SMS reply from a home phone number and left a message.
I received a call back a few days later from Brooke's mom, who explained a situation I had never anticipated:
"Sadly, we just made the family decision last week that Brooke won't be attending Franciscan next semester. We just weren't able to make ends meet financially. I'm so sorry you've had to be involved in this mess... Best of luck though!"
I was pretty bummed at the news, but I called the university and told them my situation, and they told me it would take about a month to work out an updated room assignment and mail it to me. So I waited week after week, while continuing to pray intensively with my family that God's will be done...
After what practically seemed like forever, I found an envelope from my college in the mailbox. Finally!
I tore it open and found that I was once again in Room #241, but this time with a girl named Chloe Kurtz, and was thrilled when I saw that she lived in a city that my family would be taking a trip to in a couple of weeks. "How convenient," I thought, "I might get to meet her before we even arrive on campus!" I called the number provided on the sheet, and she answered the phone on like the second ring. The conversation went down something like this:
ME: Hello, is this the Kurtz residence?
HER: Yes, it is.
ME: May I speak with Chloe?
HER: Speaking! Who's this?
ME: Hi, Chloe! I'm Rachel Hamilton, and I actually just got a letter from Franciscan University that says I'll be rooming with you...
HER: Oh... Well, I'm sorry about this, but I decided a few weeks ago that I'm taking a gap year, so I'm not going to Franciscan this year.
ME: Oh, I understand. Funny, this has already happened to me once before... You're the second roommate I've been assigned with.
HER: Wow, that's awkward... Yeah they called me a while ago, and when I told them I wasn't sure, but I probably wasn't coming, they were like, "Well, we'll put you down anyway." I'm sorry about all of this!
ME: It's okay. Well, it was nice to talk with you! Best of luck with everything!
So once again, I called the school and updated them on the whole thing. As you can imagine, I was baffled by this frustrating irony. Would this happen again? How much longer would I have to wait? "Everyone else knows by now who they will be with. It's not fair," I thought to myself.
However, I was so unaware that the "unfairness" of my situation would soon lead to a sweet, unanticipated gift.
I was actually on a road trip with my family about three weeks before I would move in when my aunt (who had been checking our mail for us) called and told me that I had received a third rooming assignment. Staying in room #241 with me was Mary.
Soon thereafter we got in touch, and instantly hit it off. And even very early on I was convinced: never could I have dreamed to have a roommate more perfect for me. I could tell that she was wise and incredibly sweet, and I learned that like me, she is a foodie and a huge Tori Kelly and Disney fan, who loves to play the ukulele and harmonize.
Little did I know, however, of her huge heart and abundance of patience she exudes. Little did I know of the amount of care and thought she puts into every tiny letter she pens. Little did I know of all the laughter we would share and all the hugs she has to give when your heart is heavy. Little did I know of the extent of meaning that the phrase "true friend" can hold.
That year, I was soon to discover that I was hurting and broken in areas of my life that God was waiting to heal, and that He was calling me to develop a charity and humility far deeper than any I've possessed. And with her patience, compassion, fidelity, and her own selfless example, Mary contributed to this growth every step of the way; God gave me exactly what I didn't even know I needed through her. And looking back, I discovered that both roommate misunderstandings are what allowed this to occur.
See, Mary was a transferring sophomore who applied to Franciscan University late that summer. It was the very end of July when she got admitted and received all of her housing information. Had I been paired with someone who was actually 100% committed to the university one of those first two times, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to live with Mary. Had I not needed to wait so long to receive an assignment and/or get in contact with both Brooke and Chloe, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to live with Mary.
By putting me through circumstances that at the time seemed "unfair", God allowed me to experience something rare...
As far as I know, a very low number of college students opt to live with the same person two years in a row that they were assigned at random with the first year... but Mary and I are among that few. Our friendship has far exceeded the mere compatibility, decent communication, and pleasant memories I was hoping for.
Mary, if you're reading this, I hope you know that you have been beyond an answered prayer to my life, and since God has mercifully strengthened me in altruism and morale over this past year, I strive to be as self-giving of a sister to you as you have been to me.
And to anyone else who may be reading this, please remember to entrust and to trust. Entrust your every day to God because He truly knows your every need and wholeheartedly desires that each be fulfilled. Allowing Him control of your life is the best decision you can make. He wants to help you so badly at every moment, but He's letting you have the final say; He seldom interferes where His work isn't desired.
And trust. Whether you've lost a particular job. Whether you've found you must move for whatever reason. Whether you didn't get into the school of your dreams. Whether someone you love has deserted you. Trust. You will go through phases in life where nothing seems to make sense and it is unclear where things are leading. Like my situation, it will feel like never-ending waiting to be freed from uncertainty, but God knows what He is doing. One day you'll look back at every little enigmatic frustration will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and you'll think, Oh.