By Alyssa Roat, Crosswalk.com
Maybe you just moved in with your first college roommate, or maybe you’ve been living with roommates for years. You’ve decided that you want to be the best roommate you can be. But how do you do that?
Whether you get along great with your roommate or you hardly know them, we’ve been called to love others.
In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Loving those around us (and who is closer than a roommate?) comes second only to loving the Lord.
Assuming you have a healthy relationship with your roommate (you can read more about that in this article), there are plenty of ways to show your roommate you care.
Considerations Before You Act
Not everyone gives and receives love the same way. For example, compliments make some people feel loved, while they make others uncomfortable. Consider (or even talk about) ways your roommate likes to be cared for. An easy way to do this is through discussing the Five Love Languages.
Some of the ideas below may be helpful for some people and not for others, depending on their personality. With that said, here are fifteen ways you can show love to your roommate.
1. Ask permission, not forgiveness.
It takes a while to learn how someone else lives. Some people are protective of their snacks; others consider the cupboard a free-for-all. Some don’t mind a bit of a mess, while others are more affected by clutter.
When you’re not sure if you should borrow something, be noisy, or leave dishes in the sink, ask your roommate.
Even if they seem okay with just about everything, asking first shows that you care about their feelings and respect them as a person.
2. Learn what your roommate is passionate about and encourage them.
God gave us each unique gifts and abilities (Romans 12:6). Appreciating them in one another is an excellent way to show love.
Does your roommate play soccer? Go to a game or two. Do they paint? Take time to tell them what you appreciate about their art, and maybe hang a piece or two on your wall.
Whether it’s jewelry making, pickle ball, basket weaving, or handbell choir, take the time to find out what your roommate’s hobbies are and figure out ways to encourage them.
3. Leave the light on.
Small gestures of kindness show that you care. If your roommate is out later than you, leave a light on for them.
This isn’t just about a nightlight. Small acts of kindness add up and hold meaning.
In Acts 28, Luke records a small act of kindness that we now read about two thousand years later. “The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold” (Acts 28:2).
4. Have a movie night.
Did your roommate have a rough day? Find a movie in a genre they like, pop some popcorn, and spend time with them. Even if it’s just a normal weekend and nothing is wrong, doing something enjoyable together shows your roommate you value spending time with them.
As a bonus, staying in to watch a movie is cheaper and can be more spontaneous than other activities.
5. Respect noise levels.
“If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse,” Proverbs 27:14 humorously declares.
Whether your apartment or dorm room is constantly filled with guests, or you both enjoy your introvert time, it doesn’t hurt to go above and beyond. Don’t run the blender at five in the morning, try not clatter pots and pans, and respect the tranquility of your home.
Go beyond just respecting established boundaries to exceeding them.
6. Invite your roommate out with you and your friends.
If you know your roommate and your friends wouldn’t get along, that’s a different matter, but it is a kind gesture to invite your roommate along. They might say no—especially if you’re doing something that isn’t their thing—but inviting a person makes them feel wanted.
7. Keep your space clean.
Though your roommate may not be bothered by mess, clutter is known to cause stress and anxiety. Keeping it clean is a subtle way to care for your roommate’s mental health.
“Clean” is relative to each person, and this suggestion doesn’t mean guilting your roommate into also obsessively tidying. However, sweeping the floor while they’re out, organizing the junk drawer, or cleaning off the table can be a relief for you both.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Lorenzo Antonucc
8. Cook them dinner.
One passage in the Bible that always makes me laugh is 1 Kings 19:1-9. Right after the showdown with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18, Elijah should be feeling great. The Lord rained down fire from heaven, proving He is God. Instead, 1 Kings 19:4 finds Elijah lying under a bush, complaining to God that he just wants to die. Then Elijah takes a petulant nap.
He wakes up to an angel giving him food and telling him to eat. After eating and sleeping, Elijah feels better and moves on.
Elijah was tired, hungry, and cranky. God fed him, and Elijah felt better. If God’s solution to a cranky Elijah was food, who are we to argue? Next time your roommate is having a bad day, cook them dinner and listen to their problems.
9. Give your roommate alone time.
It can be exhausting to be around other people all the time, especially if you’re living in a cramped dorm room or sharing a one-bedroom apartment. Let your roommate exist alone in the space from time to time.
Spend the weekend with a friend, or just a day out and about, and let your roommate recharge.
10. Offer to be accountability partners.
If you don’t know your roommate all that well, this may not be the best idea. However, sometimes your roommate is the best person with whom to make resolutions, simply because you live together and can coordinate.
Are you both going to work on eating healthy? Do you want to read the Bible more regularly? Could you work out together?
Invite your roommate to join you, or offer to support them in their resolutions.
11. Pray for your roommate.
Your roommate may never know that you do this, but one of the best ways to love someone is to bring them to God in prayer.
Whether you’re praying for an upcoming test or stressful assignment, asking for patience and wisdom in your relationship, or just generally asking God to bless your roommate, the Lord knows better than you ever could how to care for your roommate.
12. Have a roommate date.
Do something fun with your roommate. Go get coffee, go bowling, go to a movie. It will be good for both of you to interact in a fun way that isn’t just the daily grind.
Even if you can’t afford these activities right now, you could go for a walk in the park, throw a ball around, or even do your grocery shopping together this week, if that’s more your speed.
13. Celebrate their successes.
Did your roommate get a promotion at work? Did they ace a test they’ve been studying for late into the night? Celebrate with them. “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15).
Whether this includes cheering for them, making congratulatory cupcakes, or gathering a bunch of friends to celebrate, show your roommate you care about their happiness and what is going on in their life.
14. Be slow to anger and quick to listen.
James 1:19 admonishes, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
We all have our quirks and annoying habits. When your roommate is driving you crazy, take a moment to figure out why they’re acting the way they are. Often, there is a deeper issue. You may even be able to encourage them and pray with them.
15. Be spontaneous.
You don’t have to plan ahead to show love to your roommate. A compliment here, a helping hand there, demonstrates your care and reflects God’s love for each of us.
Loving Your Roommate As God Loves Us
God’s love for us is unconditional. His concern for us ranges from the smallest things in life to the biggest. Likewise, our love for those around us should be evident in both the big and small, the life-altering and the mundane.
Living with a roommate provides a unique opportunity to pour into the life of someone we may never otherwise have met. There are so many more ways to show love, but hopefully these fourteen suggestions will provide a launching point for you to come up with your own ideas.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Rawpixel
Alyssa Roat studied writing, theology, and the Bible at Taylor University. She is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing Services. She is the co-author of Dear Hero and has 200+ bylines in publications ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Find out more about her here and on social media @alyssawrote.