A while back I wrote a note on my mirror that said, “How can I reflect You today?” I immediately felt like it was a little too cheesy-punny for me so I changed it to “What can I do for You today?” The point of the question remained, though: what attitudes can I have, what actions can I take, what smiles can I offer… to show the love of Christ to the people I encounter?
Sometimes God answers me with something very specific – He tells me to call someone and pray for her or He tells me to encourage a certain person with His words. But sometimes it’s the really hard stuff that doesn’t look at all glamorous… sometimes it is “Do your roommate’s dishes.”
I've been blessed with many great roommate relationships, so please know that I’m not using this as a space to vent frustrations. This is about MY flaws. I am selfish, and living with others has revealed this to me on a few levels, but mainly this: when things are left in the sink, I get frustrated. I used to wash my own things and leave hers sitting in the sink, sometimes for weeks. It was a passive-aggressive move, for sure—intended to convey the message, “I am keeping score.”
One night at 2:00 a.m., I returned from a month-long tour, knowing that the sink would be full of the dishes my roommate had accumulated while I was away. I started to get frustrated before I even got home. “It’s not my job to clean up after her mess!” I thought. “I paid rent for a month on a place I didn’t even see and now I have to come home to a filthy kitchen and clean it. It’s not my job!”
And that’s when God interrupted me and said, “Yes. It is.”
And then I started to remember things like, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Consider others as better than yourself.” “Serve one another in love.”
Um. Ouch. Yes, God. You washed the feet of Your betrayers. You said to bless those who curse us, so the very least I can do is lovingly serve a roommate that I adore. And here’s the other thing: These acts of “love” are pointless if I continue to keep score in my head. I can’t walk around thinking, “Look at me… I’m washing her dishes without even complaining. I hope she notices.” Or “I did her dishes. I’m such a servant. I’m really being like Jesus.”
Being like Jesus implies the willingness to forget myself, to commit the act of love without trying to draw attention to it, to die to self in a way that completely extinguishes the desire for validation or reciprocity.
So when I wake up and ask God “What can I do for You today?” and God says, “Love your roommate. Do her dishes,” I know it’s going to be a lesson in self-forgetfulness, which I desperately need. God, help me.