As I started to reflect on 2012 last weekend, I realized that I need to count my roommate Kim among my greatest blessings. She is one of the many people I’ve met so recently and yet already consider among my closest friends.
But I didn’t expect to write that.
I found Kim through an ad she posted with Wheaton College, advertising her need for a roommate to care for her dog, Kane, while she traveled. It said, “DOG LOVER PLEASE APPLY.” I thought, “Well, if you insist.”
I was looking for housing; I found a home. I was looking for a roommate; I found a mentor, role model, and friend.
I met Kim the day I drove up to her house with my tiny car packed full of my belongings. The next day, she left on a weeklong business trip, and I was catapulted right from the get-go into my first experience with Kim’s hectic, often-crazy schedule.
It was difficult at first. Kim had lived alone for eight years, and sharing her space was an adjustment, she told me recently. And it turns out that I have quirks of my own: I turn off the radio that she constantly plays; I turn up the heat that she constantly turns down; I unknowingly stole her favorite chair in the living room and relegated her to the couch. Kim didn’t know at first if she could adjust to having someone else “be there all the time,” she said.
But I remember one Saturday morning in September when things changed, and Kim and I realized that we are together for a very important reason: We are walking the same path in life right now, because our lives aren’t what we thought they’d be.
That Saturday morning in September, I told Kim about the struggles and heartbreaks in my life. She told me about how her life hasn’t turned out exactly as she imagined it would, how she came to know Christ and then spent many years angry at him. And we embraced the fact that we are living together this year because we are in different, yet nearly identical, stages of life. We are waiting for God’s “big reveal,” for the moment when the curtain rises and He shows us, “I have been making all things work together for you.”
After all, when I’m honest with myself, I struggle to see that right now. I always wanted to be the woman who fell in love, married soon after college graduation, and lived in Seattle near my family. I wanted that so badly. But I made peace with the reality I wasn’t going to find my husband at SPU and my dreams shifted when I went to D.C. (as is probably clear to anyone who knows me). I wanted to move there after graduation—and I even was offered a good job.
It is not right for me to say or imply that I haven’t gotten what I wanted—or that my life is not blessed. It just isn’t what I expected.
It was a life-scenario twist that I never imagined when I chose this Midwest option over D.C. I had never been to Illinois. I had no desire to work at Christianity Today, really. Yet I told myself (and everyone else) that moving to Chicagoland for a good job at a well-respected publication would be my “great adventure.” What I didn’t know is that my great adventure would be so hard and so lonely. And I didn’t know that would matter so much.
Kim, too, had dreamed of marrying young and moving to a place she loved—the Pacific Northwest. But now she’s 40, has never been married, and has made her career in sales support for companies that sell chemical solutions. She owns a home but has never been able to make that move to the Northwest. Within the last 5 months, two potential job changes that would have allowed her to move there fell through. And that, to me, would be devastating.
But Kim has shown the most beautiful courage in spite of those losses. I continually have seen her choose to wait patiently rather than curse God for not allowing her to move. I have seen her resolve to embrace her life’s unexpected blessings rather than its shortcomings. I have seen her step into other people’s pain, feel it with them, and look past her own for the sake of her great love for others.
Even now, I was interrupted from writing this when she announced having had a difficult conversation—but one that brought a sense of closure—with a dear friend at church today. It’s a friendship that, like so many other things, didn’t end the way she thought it would. And that hurt her, but it didn’t break her spirit.
“I don’t understand why it is this way, Melissa,” she said, “but it’s okay now. I just don’t have time to be angry. I have so much life to live. I have other dreams.”
Kim loves to live. She gets outside into the woods every moment she can. She goes to concerts in the city and makes friends with the band members. Actually, Kim makes friends with almost every person she meets; I was blown away when, at her 40th birthday party in November, we packed our house with 50 of her friends from so many aspects of her life—family, work, church, swim team, book club. She loves people so passionately.
Kim still dreams that she will move to Oregon—somewhere in the Cascades—with Kane.
“We have mountains to climb,” she told him this morning. “We’ve got trails to bike and cougars to avoid, huh? We gotta get out there.”
It has taken 40 years—and it could take many more—but I know she’ll get to the Northwest. She trusts and believes God’s will is for her to be there, yet she does not force God to change things because Carol Stream isn’t where she’d choose to be. Instead, she keeps obeying God and waiting, and she does so in spite of the fact that her life hasn’t been exactly what she dreamed it would be when she graduated from college.
And when I think about it, those are words I’d want someone to write about me.