Black and white? Or brothers?

Originally appeared online in the teen series: Trending - February 12, 2018

It was my first week in college in the United States, and I didn’t understand what was going on with my roommate. At first I’d been friendly, but he wasn’t very responsive. So I backed off—thinking he needed his space. However, I soon noticed that, while he didn’t seem to want to talk to me, outside of our room he was friendly with others.

I had never been in a situation like this before—of being around someone, having to live with someone, who was pretending I didn’t exist. The atmosphere in our room was tense, and in our limited interactions he was always unfriendly and impolite.

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One day, a guy across the hall told me he knew what was going on. My roommate had a reputation for being racist. The problem wasn’t me but the color of my skin.

I had never faced anything like this before, and I didn’t know what to do. I was trying to pray, but I was also struggling with feelings of confusion and hurt.

When I woke up the next day, I wasn’t feeling very well. This heavy burden seemed to be pressing down on me to the point that I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t even go to my classes.

I spoke with my mom and my host family about what was going on, and we prayed together. We worked from the standpoint that because God is One, man, which includes everyone, must also be one. Any suggestion of division or animosity could only be a mistaken view of man—powerless to act, influence, or divide God’s innocent children.

Whatever differences seemed so apparent before have faded in light of the truth of what we both are: children of the same God.

I was also reading the book Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer (Yvonne Caché von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck) and had been thinking about what Mary Baker Eddy truly meant when she referred to our affections for our fellow man. It dawned on me that this kind of pure love that heals includes no judgment—including my own judgment toward my roommate. Yes, I realized, I’d been judging him by labeling him as a racist. While I’d thought the problem was just the fact that he had been identifying me incorrectly, I could now see that I had also been misidentifying him. At some point that misidentification had turned into a feeling of hate. But now, divine Love was purifying my affections and enabling me to see him differently—to truly love him as my brother. 

I felt better soon after that and returned to my classes. Over the next couple of weeks, my continued prayers also brought more light to my thoughts, and I began to see my roommate more clearly as a child of God. I could admit and even cherish the idea that we both have the same Father. Because we were both created by God, there was nothing he had that I didn’t have, and vice versa. And having the same Father-Mother God meant that we live under the same divine laws of harmony. The labels I’d put on him began to fall away, and I was able to begin thinking about him without judgment.

At the end of the third week of school, it was his birthday. I was surprised when I walked into our room to find him there with the cookies his mom had sent him, wanting to share them with me. To be honest, even though I’d been expecting healing as I’d prayed, I didn’t expect this! He said he wanted this moment to be just for the two of us.

As we sat there eating cookies, he began to say things that showed even more clearly how divine Love had been working in both our hearts. He acknowledged that there were many people he hadn’t treated right, including me, and that he’d been praying to overcome that; he said he was having prayerful help from a friend as well. 

“I’m really sorry for anything unkind I’ve done,” he told me. “I truly didn’t want to hurt you.”

After that, we actually became friends. It was amazing to see the change in him and the way he continued to grow that semester. I never felt any lingering resentment toward him. In fact, to this day we’re friends. Whatever differences seemed so apparent before have faded in light of the truth of what we both are: children of the same God. Brothers.

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