When the second semester of my freshman year in college began, I had two roommates. Then we were assigned another roommate, Bob, an aspiring violinist. I assumed we’d have an accomplished musician serenading us to sleep at night. However, the second afternoon I came to the dorm from my last class, I knew I was a little more than optimistic.
Now, I was raised on a farm and had heard lots of barnyard sounds, but Bob was in competition with a choir of squealing pigs, running for their morning mud bath. Listening to his bow being dragged across the violin strings was enough to make me want to jump out the 2nd story dorm window to escape the torture.
One day I asked him what he was practicing, and he said, “Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin.” I hoped that Vivaldi was deaf, for if not, he probably turned over in his grave several times when Bob practiced. We convinced him to practice the same time each day and, during that time, we studied in the library or hung out with friends.
I wish I had known this Scripture then: “Each of you should look not only to your interests but also to the interests of others.” I was not much of a conversationalist, but I could have asked him why he started playing the violin, if any of his family were musicians, or what his music goals were.
God was being good to this uncultured farm boy, for he was teaching me, not only to accept others with diverse personalities, but also to learn that others accepted me for who I was. My roommates were not critical or condemning of me for being different from them. I hoped both Bob and I would be fast learners.
Since I was learning that all things happen by divine appointment, not by coincidence, the “Father of Lights” was opening my eyes to practicing Philippians 2:4. Together we roommates started building a fellowship of believers, all under construction, learning, sometimes painfully, that we need each other.
To my delight I got a postcard from Bob a few years later, letting me know he was playing violin in the church orchestra. He didn’t play in Carnegie Hall, but more important, he was playing for the Lord and not for himself.
So when someone annoying works in the cubicle next to you or you have a neighbor that seems disagreeable, get to know his interests and his ideas, and then share some of your life with him. Remember Bob, the squeaking violinist, whose perseverance and determination enabled him to serve the Lord with his music. And remember, we’re all under construction.
Excerpted from my soon-to-be published memoir, Naked With Clothes On.