When I first moved back to my hometown after I transferred from a prestigious state university to a small liberal arts college, my living situation was a no-brainer. Why would I spend thousands of dollars a semester for on-campus housing when I could just live with my parents, rent free? After all, the house I grew up in was only 10 minutes from campus. I patted myself on the back for having such a mature and frugal outlook on the situation. I couldn't think of many young adults who would forfeit their "college experience" to live with their parents and save a couple of bucks. I was looking out for myself (and my credit), so staying out of as much debt as possible was my number one priority.
About a month into the semester, I was starting to get the hang of things at Lander University. I knew the exact time I needed to leave my parents' house to avoid being late to class and which commuter parking lots filled up the quickest in the mornings. I was enjoying myself and my situation. Even as I saw all of my new friends enjoying their independence in their cozy apartments, I was confident in my decision to live at home.
As the weeks passed by, I started to break. Honestly, my parents were starting to get on my nerves (sorry, Mom and Dad). I didn't feel like I had the privacy or the independence that I craved; not because they were invasive, but simply because I longed to be on my own. So when a friend announced that she was looking for someone to sublet her house for the next semester, I jumped on the opportunity immediately.
Waiting on the next semester to come was like waiting for Christmas. Time passed so slowly and I was so anxious to finally regain my independence. However, I found ways to pass the time. I was passing all of my classes with perfect grades and I'd met a wonderful man who I am lucky enough to now call my boyfriend.
Here's when a wrench got thrown into things. When a misfortune with the school left him homeless, I knew I had to step in. Even though we'd been dating for less than four months, my heart yearned to help him in the only way I could: offering him a place to stay. To my surprise, my parents and roommate were completely supportive of the situation.
Seven months have passed, and we are still living together. I have learned more about him in these past few months than I could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, I have learned a lot more about others, too.
You see, when you move in with your significant other before you are even entertaining the thought of marriage, everyone seems to feel the need to get involved. From the sweet old lady at church to your grouchy professor: everyone has an opinion. And more often than not, those opinions are judgmental beyond belief.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that I was living in sin for building a home and a future with my boyfriend, I would have enough money to donate to every church in the tri-country area. Those who say these things are the same people that mumble racist remarks under their breath and praise radical evangelists for picketing the funerals of LGBTQ+ community members.
I respect that they have opinions about my spiritual well-being. But was it not Matthew 7:4 that questioned: "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?"?
This is my living situation, therefore it is my business. I don't need anyone's validation because there is not a sinless person living on this earth. If my spirituality is of concern in this position, then it is on me and only me. I am taking full responsibility for myself.
This experience is teaching me so much about the girl I am and the woman I want to become. It's also teaching me how to love endlessly and unconditionally. I am learning how to be an independent adult, with my best friend by my side, and I'm a better person because of it.
Living with my boyfriend is not a mistake, and if it is, it's mine to make.