Kathy Johnson is a politically moderate Midwesterner who now calls DC home and works in the U.S. House of Representatives. She speaks fluent sarcasm (thanks mom!) and most days needs two things to function: grace and coffee.
I've never been one who can sit still for very long. I'm a social creature (and a medium amount of type A) so I'd much rather be doing something—catching up with friends, working on a project—than sitting still. My thought process goes something like this: Sometimes sitting still makes me feel like I'm doing nothing. Doing nothing is boring. I do not want to be boring. Therefore, I do not want to sit still.
I think this is why I have such a hard time with the idea of resting. Rest means taking it easy and learning to not constantly be on the go; it’s quieting your mind and letting go of the little things so that you can refresh physically and mentally. Instead, I like to run up to the edge of the burn-out cliff and peer not-so-cautiously over the side.
This lifestyle is commonplace in DC. People who move to this town to work in politics tend to work hard, distracting ourselves with work, answering emails at all hours of the day, always rushing from one event to the next. We over-schedule ourselves and never really take a chance to turn off because we are afraid of missing some opportunity or of failing to be available to handle the next crisis that our office will face. To top it all off, many of us juggle two phones—one for personal use and one for work. Sometimes keeping our work phone and personal phone separate is legitimately necessary (for security purposes, for example). Often we do it because we want to feel more important than we actually are. (And then there’s the fact that having two phones offers us more opportunities for excuses if we need to get out of something.)
But every August, the District shuts down and this lifestyle gets thrown into crisis.
In many ways, this city revolves around Congress, but members of Congress spend the entire month of August back in their home states, connecting with the constituents they're elected to represent, investigating the issues facing their states and districts. The two months leading up to August recess are some of the hardest weeks of the year for Hill staffers. At the end of July, we’ve been in session for eight to ten weeks straight, staffing our bosses in hearings and meetings, putting together memos and researching legislation. Then, abruptly, we hit August and have to deal with five weeks of quiet.
Sure, we have meetings and projects to fill the time, and often these five weeks are used to catch up on all of the things we didn't have time to do during session. But with every member of Congress out of town, it’s suddenly slower paced and we aren’t ever ready for the switch. It feels like you just drank five cups of black coffee and then tried to go to sleep.
When August rolls around, I think a lot of Hill staffers want to check out but don’t know what to do with themselves.
This week, take some time to pray specifically for the men and women serving on Capitol Hill. Pray that they can learn how to be still (Psalm 42) during these slower weeks, that they can enjoy deep rest (Psalm 127), and that God could be glorified in their lives through these final weeks of August recess.
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