Here I am sitting on the roof of our house in Philadelphia. It’s a surprisingly warm and breezy day for early March. It’s late in the afternoon and many people’s work days are drawing to a close. I can hear the murmur of voices in conversation in all directions on the streets below. Straight ahead of me, less than 10 blocks away, is the Philadelphia skyline. To my left and right are roof tops after roof tops. Dakota, our dog, is pacing to and fro, sniffing for any crumbs I may have dropped when I finished my cheese steak five minutes ago. The sun is piercing through the clouds, landing on my face with a gentle warmth. I must say – this isn’t a bad life for a guy who can’t even pay car insurance this month.

Yeah, things are financially tight. Some of that is just part of living off of financial support. I hope and pray checks come in and bills can be paid. Food in my mouth is nice too. But the other part of it is being unwise with what money I do have. I make some pretty self-indulgent choices sometimes. Don’t tell anyone, but my life can be kind of a wreck sometimes. And it isn’t exactly always somebody else’s fault.

The reality is, I do a fairly decent job of covering up my tracks on all the mistakes I make. I can paint a grand picture of myself if I want to. I can be the guy who has it all together. I moved half way across the country, leaving behind people I love, a ministry I was plugged into and producing fruit in, not to mention stepping out of school. My music has begun to gain national attention. I’ve even had some out-of-country orders lately for albums. I do ministry now full time, with the official title of worship director. Recently, I have been sought out for both my work as a writer and a musician. Some of the musicians I grew up calling my idols now bounce their ideas off of me. Yeah, I can paint a good picture.

But there’s one problem. Roommates. Just when you think you can fool everyone, you turn around and have to walk back in the door of the place where you live. These people ruin everything. They know how late I sleep. They see me at 3:30 in the afternoon still in my pajamas. They see me check the caller ID and choose not to pick up the phone. They hear me through the walls, talking on the phone, saying unkind things to friends far away. They see me hesitate momentarily from changing the channel, taken in by some scantily clad woman. They hear my spout out ideas and statements before I have the chance to write them down and edit them. They know when I’ve been at counseling. They know when I’ve been hanging out with a girl, and are just annoying enough to grinningly inquire if something is going on they should know about. They even hear my attempt to make funny jokes and are kind enough to act like they didn’t hear them (because they weren’t that funny).

It’s quite a terrifying thing for someone like me. Sure, I can sit down and write a lot of great ideas. I can write some beautiful articles about the essential need for community. I can paint an alluring image of the fruit of community. I can keep community tucked away safely in my head. But my roommates screw it all up. They force me into community. Whether I like it or not. All philosophies are out the window. We’re dealing with the fine art of living now. I can deal with the rest of the world. It’s coming home that’s usually the hardest thing. And it’s not because these people are horrible. It’s because I can be.

They are a mirror. I get to see what it’s like to live with me and deal with me day in and day out. It’s not always all that fun. Thank God for grace. Thank God for not getting what I deserve. Thank God for the fruits of the Spirit my close friends show me time and again. These people save me from wrong turns and aid in the deflation of my ego (a daunting task to be sure). If I get caught by my roommates trying to play myself up to someone, they’re there to bring me back to reality. They’re there to talk with, laugh with, watch TV with, run errands with, fight with and make amends with. They drive me nuts and fill me with joy all in the same breathe. It’s usually not an ideal way to live, but I am thankful for them nonetheless. They are my curse and my blessing. They are my mirror.

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