WORK AS RESTORATION
I love to recall when work was more of an idea rather than a daily reality. I vividly remember sitting at dinner, just my parents and I, expressing for the first time that I thought I was called to work in politics. At fifteen there was something deep within me that longed to bring healing into the brokenness that is American politics.
Fast-forward seven years and you have me, a fresh college graduate, moving to Washington D.C. to begin the career of which I had always dreamt. Tears streamed as I shut the door to my little car, waved goodbye to everything I knew, and started my journey half way across the country, trusting that this was all for a greater purpose.
I started as a Staff Assistant, as almost everyone on Capitol Hill does, booking tours, answering phone calls, and doing all I could to get promoted ASAP. Within one month, I felt like this place had beaten me into the ground. It was shocking that thirty days in a congressional office could squash years and years of processing and dreaming about how work could be used to bring restoration to our broken world.
I think much of the frustration with working on Capitol Hill is feeling like so much of our work is useless. We write bills that rarely pass committee, sit through eight hour long markups to debate spending that will never make it to the President’s desk, and send out press releases with the same party-line talking points to keep constituents happy. After a while, it just feels like a massive machine that got stuck on autopilot, leaving our work devoid of value or even truth.
It is easy to look at all of this and feel helpless, but I have to cling to the truth that God has called us to bring light into darkness and restoration into brokenness. Right now, the place He has called me to is the Hill. It is where I sit in my cubicle for too many hours typing letters and reading bills and listening to frustrated constituents, begging for some hope.
But during some of my most difficult days, I dream of running away, thinking that surely my work could offer value somewhere else: somewhere less messy, somewhere less hard. In these moments, I have to be reminded that God ordained work. He spent the first six days in Genesis working to create beauty and speak truth into our world. He created Adam and called him to work and keep the Garden of Eden. Jesus came, and He worked as a carpenter, using His hands to craft wood into pieces of furniture. From these examples it is not only because of the Fall that works exists .
Meaningful work is not exclusive to high-paying, influential positions, and as Christians, we are all called to work to help bring redemption and restoration into our world.
By the grace of God and a few timely promotions later, I am still on Capitol Hill, a little less starry-eyed, but still just as hungry for God to move here.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” I think this is where we have to start. We have to start by laying down our pride and doing every single task, no matter how useless it feels, to the glory of God. We have to pray fervently for God to move, and when He gives us the opportunity to speak truth, to do it boldly, trusting that He is going before us.
I know this place is not easy, and there are much simpler ways to make more money, work shorter hours, and probably feel much more fulfilled in your job. However, I urge you to take a step back, to consider that maybe God has called you here for such a time as this. Maybe, just maybe, God is ready to do mighty things on Capitol Hill, and He is just waiting for some of His children to lay down what feels like empty workdays to say, “Okay, God, use me.”
The writer is a Legislative Correspondent in the U.S. House of Representatives.