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.
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.
The next day when I woke up, 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, then man must be one. Any suggestion of division or animosity could only be an aggressive mental suggestion—powerless to act, influence, or divide God’s innocent children.
The problem wasn’t me but the color of my skin.
I was also reading the book Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer (Yvonne Cache 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 had just been the fact that he was identifying me incorrectly, I could now see that I was also 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 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.
Whatever differences seemed so apparent before have faded in light of the truth of what we both are: children of the same God.
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 and 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.