Nancy and I own and manage a set of townhouses located close to several Spokane colleges. We rent space to students (mostly Moody Bible School students) on an individual basis with the understanding that we choose who lives in the houses. The students like this arrangement because they are not financially responsible for their housemates. However, this arrangement can lead to “interesting” housemate dynamics. I am generally there about once a week, so all the students know me and many feel confident confiding in me.
Today, as I was fixing a stove in one of the units, a student approached me and nervously explained a problem he is having. His room is near the washer and dryer and sometimes his housemates do laundry late at night which makes it difficult for him to sleep. I have learned that generally in situations like this the person with the complaint has not talked to the offending party. Surprising as this might sound, people feel more comfortable expressing their discontentment to someone else than to the person who is causing the irritation.
When someone complains about someone else, my first question is always, “Have you talked to the person who is causing the problem?” Almost always the answer is, “No.” Usually some urging is required, but after I convince the offended person to talk directly to the offending person, the problem is resolved. I offer to mediate if the two people are not able to resolve the conflict between themselves, but it almost never comes to that. Almost 100% of the time, if the offended party talks directly to the offending party, they are able to resolve the issue and it is quickly forgotten.
Remember, Jesus instructed his disciples with these words in Matthew 18 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.“
I doubt that I will hear about the late-at-night laundry issue again. Either the offended student will decide to simply endure the noise or he will speak to the offending housemates. If he chooses to ask them to do their laundry before 10PM, I am sure they will honor his request.
Great post, Greg! I love to see a scriptural solution applied to common human problems.