A Year in Washington DC

By Tuesday, October 03, 2017 ,

Hello friends and readers and hello October! I feel like I’m constantly apologizing for long breaks between posts, so can we all just agree to understand the delays? Life, guys. Just life. I need to start scheduling them more ahead of time. It’s just hard when blogging isn’t your full-time job, though I’d love that. But I promise I’m still reading away, constantly planning the next trip to England, and always looking for stories to share here. I have post ideas that I’m excited about and hope to get published here soon. But today I want to share some reflections on my first year in DC that I’ve been turning over in my head for a while now.

A little over a year ago now, my mom and I rolled into Washington, DC in a car stuffed to the brim and only a vague idea of where we needed to go first. I remember feeling pretty in over my head once I spied the Washington Monument from the beltway. Upon arrival in the city and getting our bearings, we hastily arranged my things in the glamorous intern dorm, a task that was naturally not complete without an emergency trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, and then spent the night with friends in Annapolis before flying out to England the next day. That vacation was very good for me in many ways – I needed to get away from normalcy for a while and I was also excited for an adventure that I’d planned and wanted for a long time before facing the unknown adventure of DC. But when I returned and began to fall into a routine in DC, I was a little surprised to realize how much I was enjoying myself and that I maybe wanted stay longer than the mandatory semester. A year later, I couldn’t be more pleased that I did. 

Why I moved to DC 
To be clear, I will always have a special love for my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. But I hadn’t ever been far from it for an extended period. I went to college only two hours away and went back there as soon as I graduated. I had worked there a good while and was feeling stuck. I couldn’t see my frustrating job situation (unfulfilling work, dead ends, etc) changing anytime soon. So even though it scared me, I figured it was right to take a leap into something new where I knew no one and could start fresh in a lot of ways. 

What I immediately liked about DC 
Ah, where to begin?! For those who can’t handle long chunks of text, I shall now trick you with bullet points.
  • All the history and memorials and stuff: History nerd that I am, I do think it’s pretty neat to be so near the heart of our country’s history. DC can get a bad rap for all the snooty politics and elites, but at its core, it’s still a beautiful city with a rich heritage worth seeing. I feel fortunate that I not only see it, but live in the midst of it. I still stare in awe at the Capitol at least twice a week even though I walk by it literally every day.
  • It does each season well: I arrived in DC on the cusp of autumn and was delighted to see that it’s a REAL autumn, unlike the measly 4-5 days of fall Alabama gets. The leaves actually change colors and the temperatures stay between 50 and 70 for a good two months. Later on, winter, spring, and summer followed the same pattern. A good sampling of all four seasons comes to DC in full force, which has been a welcome change from Alabama’s summer-winter-summer pattern.
  • The variety of people to be met with: Since moving here, I’ve met people from all corners of the country and the world – the people in my everyday circles hail from states as different as California, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Others came here from even farther away places like South Africa, Australia, England, Kenya, and Korea. I’ve never lived in a place of such varied backgrounds and it’s been a joy to get to know them. 

    Capitol Hill in the fall... I couldn't get enough
Cool and unlikely moments that wouldn't have happened if I'd lived anywhere else
  • Talking with a TV reporter from Norway about American politics
  • Listening to an abortion survivor testify at a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill
  • Meeting THE Ben Shapiro in my work building
  • Getting to go for a bike ride down to the Lincoln Memorial after work one night
    Probably the biggest reason I stayed in DC
    There have been many things I’ve loved about DC – the internship that brought me here, my fellow interns that semester, the city quirks, and the snug coffee shops and bookstores. But my first real Sunday here, I walked the four short blocks to Capitol Hill Baptist Church and sat in a back pew a little nervously as I watched a sea of unfamiliar faces file in around me. About five minutes into the service, as we were singing “He Will Hold Me Fast” in the loudest, most beautiful harmony I’d ever heard from a church congregation, I knew I’d be coming back for the rest of the semester. This conviction to stay at that church only grew stronger as the weeks wore on, and a year later, Capitol Hill Baptist is unquestionably what has made this city home to me more than anything else. Here are just two things that I think make it such a special place: 

    • Good ecclesiology in action: Admittedly, I probably couldn’t have explained ecclesiology before I came to CHBC, and I’m sure other members would say the same. That’s not to say that previous churches of which I was a member were unhealthy or unbiblical, but CHBC emphasizes and makes transparent what is often behind the scenes in many churches. The pastors and elders talk regularly about how their responsibilities of shepherding and teaching are serious callings and sacrifices – I’ve been told that elder meetings can go till late hours of the night, and preparing for members’ meetings has to be one heck of a job from their end. But they do it because they love the congregation and they expect much of the congregation. If I were to disappear from services for a month, they’d notice and take steps to find out where I am. When they know they’ll be praying for me in an elder meeting, they’ll email me and ask if there are specific ways they can pray. I’m so thankful for their commitment. 
    • Jesus is truly our unifying foundation: All those states and countries I mentioned above? They’re represented at CHBC. People of every background, custom, age, upbringing, and nationality imaginable come together there every Sunday. It’s been more valuable than I can express to tangibly see how Jesus unifies people who might experience division by human standards. 

    And otherwise, this church just loves well. I feel richly blessed to be part of this family called Capitol Hill Baptist Church – my brothers and sisters there have encouraged and challenged me well and speak truth to me consistently. One of the most precious things in the world to me now is the sight and sound of all one thousand and twenty (?) of us singing a hymn in thunderously loud harmony together. I can’t wait to sing with them in eternity!

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