I wanted to share with you a third personal update, drawing from a revelatory three months in my life.
Over these past three months I have explored the meaning of friendship and place.
First, I want to point out a common misconception about my life that may surprise you. I don’t actually live in D.C. I don’t actually work in D.C. (I know, I am extremely guilty of labeling myself as a “D.C. denizen” as well; see my first personal update). I both live and work in Reston, VA, a suburb in Northern Virginia about 20 miles from D.C., which is a world away from the so-called “D.C. life.” In Reston, VA, you can actually find a decent parking spot. Rent isn’t half your salary. And in Reston, VA, politics doesn’t make the world go ’round.
Don’t get me wrong: I go to D.C. very often. When there is a political event that interests me, I go. I keep up with what’s going on. But let’s just say I’m more of the exception rather than the norm in my community. I live in a place fully ensconced in the strip of land known as the “Dulles Technology Corridor” – the home of so many technology servers that over 50 percent of US Internet traffic goes through my neighborhood. Let’s just say if bandwidth were radiation, I’d be fried to a crisp. When you meet someone by chance here, they are more likely to be a programmer or engineer than lobbyist or political operative. I realized early on: my conversation opener isn’t exactly going to be my thoughts on supply-side tax policy. (Though, knowing me, it isn’t necessarily not, either :))
how do I feel about this arrangement? Well – who knew, making friends
with people outside the political world isn’t so bad after all!
Over the past several months, I have built strong bonds with local young people who I have the pleasure to call friends. I give a ton of credit to my church, Reston Bible Church. RBC is a mid-size church focused on Biblical teaching. Being able to serve and live in community with my friends from church has allowed me to develop lasting bonds and Christian accountability in a world where both are quickly falling out of favor in society. I play guitar (and also do tech) for our Young Adults group, which is growing quickly after launching in September. We do church events like Christmas parties and lunches, and I help to organize these fun ways to fellowship together.
Yet, I have also developed friendships in eclectic, almost random, places. One of my best friends met me on a late-night metro ride back from D.C. Others come from reconnections with past internships and even some old high school bros. I’ve made friends with coworkers over board games, happy hours, and swing dances. And I’m blessed to have friends in places as far away as San Diego, Virginia Beach, Princeton, and of course, Charlotte, NC. My circle, as usual, is as scattered as ever. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One thing I have learned in this unique time of my life is how the old Biblical axiom: “You reap what you sow” really plays out in real life. There was a time in my life when I took friendships for granted. I don’t anymore. Bonds take time to build. If anything, my job in development for YAF has taught me this. People will take chances on you if you present yourself well. But you have to reward them with faith, loyalty, and commitment. Otherwise, good presentation just leads to wasting time. It’s why in fundraising, they teach you that at least initially, it’s not about the first gift. The first gift is just a starting point, an invitation to play. But if you play with honor, and respect for people’s intentions, those relationships can go a long way. Whether in expanding people’s philanthropic horizons or building lasting friendships, that much is true.
So I’m approaching this world with a heightened sense of the value of relationships, and the value of pursuing life honestly, in helping to show God’s love to people. I’m so blessed to have a foundation of amazing people, like you, to really build me up and build up my spirit.
As for other things: I have continued in my journalism while here in D.C., spending many nights and often weekends going to places to interview people and learn about the world, and then write about it. I have a monthly blog on The Daily Signal, a national news and opinion site sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, which you can find here. I have continued in my dancing training. Now I’m adding Balboa swing to my repertoire! And I’m rooting for the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Go Chiefs!